Lesson Plan Frustration

Discussion in 'Elementary Education' started by RainStorm, Oct 4, 2009.

  1. RainStorm

    RainStorm Phenom

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    Oct 4, 2009

    We have gone Title 1, and with that comes all kinds of additional scrutiny from our district. I have no problem with random lesson plan checks -- I always have my lesson plans. Our district refuses to give us a "sample format" instead giving us about 15 different possible formats, and none of them meet all of the requirements. Each year, they add some new requirement. I try to adapt and add it in.

    Week before last, we had a "random lesson plan check." No problem. However, in our school of over 700 students, not a single teacher's lesson plans "cut the mustard." I should add we do not have even one "new teacher" this year. Most of us are 10+ year teachers, who try incredibly hard to follow whatever rules they give us. Yet none of us met the requirements.

    So anyway, I was a bit frustrated, but this morning (Sunday) got up at 6am to do what their comments recommended. (It was a check-off sheet.)

    Now mind you, these are all lessons I've taught before, and that I have lesson plans for -- so there was absolutely no "research time" involved.

    It took me FOUR AND A HALF HOURS to write them out the with all of the new requirements. My plans for the week are 16 pages long! (single spaced) I teach 2nd grade! We have never been allowed to use a "planner book" and have always had long plans, but usually I could get them done in about 8 pages.

    For example, we are required to have 3 different reading groups each day, 5 days per week. For each one of these, and each day, they want complete plans, not just Madilyn Hunter style, but with more added to it.

    Name of Reading Selection:
    Relevant SOLs (Standards of Learning Numbers & Descriptions):
    Materials:
    Purpose for Reading:
    Genre':
    Skills to be Taught:
    Anticipatory Set: (Yep a different one for each day of the week.)
    What we will do Before Reading:
    What we will do During Reading:
    What we will do After Reading:
    Introductory Activity:
    Closing Activity:
    Evaluation and Assessment:
    Differentiation for All Learners:

    Okay, so I had to have that for each group, for each day -- so 15 times in one week's plan. And that doesn't even include Shared Reading, Independent Reading, or Read Alouds (all are required components.)

    And then there are all the other content areas.

    Now mind you, I'm an experience teacher. My students tend to average between 90-98% on all city-wide assessments (the citywide average tends to be between 65-70%) so there is no issue of my performance being in question.

    Is it just me, or does this seem excessive?

    I teach in an inner-city school where we always have teacher shortages. It is hard work. The schools are old, the spaces don't work with modern technology (I only have 3 electrical outlets in my entire classroom), many of the students come from very low income environments -- it is just plain a tough place to work.

    This year has me totally reconsidering my dedication tothis school district. It seems like they continue each year to dump more and more requirements on us (and threaten us with plans of action if we don't manage to find a way to comply) but they never take anything off the plate. It is just too much. I can't help but wonder if there are other places where the workload is more reasonable.

    I can't imagine spending the rest of the year spending 4 1/2 hours of my weekend each and every week doing lesson plans. (I also spent 4 hours on Saturday grading because the district just got us the new grading guide, and we have to have grades in for progress reports by Tuesday.)

    We are a non-union state, so there is no help available. Even when we are all go to the admin and state our views, we are told there is no negiotiation -- this must be done, no exceptions.

    Am I just being whimpy, or does this seem excessive to others?

    The really sad thing is this -- after I go to all the trouble to do the plans the way they want them, they are totally useless to me. There is so much written on the page, I can't absorb it. I end up putting them in my lesson plan binder on my desk, and then I don't refer back to them at all. It is information-overload.
     
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  3. RainStorm

    RainStorm Phenom

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    Oct 4, 2009

    Oh and I should add -- we are not allowed to say "See Teacher's Edition page ___" We have to actually type it all out for each thing. grumble
     
  4. Jem

    Jem Aficionado

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    Oct 4, 2009

    Yes, I believe this is completely excessive. My condolences, RainStorm. Especially if you have shown that you are a great teacher without them. I have no suggestions, but I do feel for you.
     
  5. kcjo13

    kcjo13 Phenom

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    Oct 4, 2009

    Holy moly. No way. No way. I couldn't-wouldn't-do it. My lesson plans have to be turned in each week, but once you are beyond your probationary period, you can do them however you want. My plans for THE WEEK are on 2 pages, which I do with a table in Word. Criminy, that takes me long enough!

    Incidentally, we are Title 1 also.
     
  6. RainStorm

    RainStorm Phenom

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    I am beyond frustrated. And our district wonders why they are always losing experienced teachers. I wouldn't mind putting all this work in if it would make me a better teacher, but the truth is, when I finish this four+ hours of work, I have a lesson plan that I can't even use.

    I'm one of those people who needs to see a week at a time. They want a day at a time. Once I turn the page to Tuesday, Monday ceases to exist to me. If I didn't get to something, I don't think to turn back constantly to see. On a weekly plan, I can just circle or highlight what I don't get to, and then I see it the next day, or if a lesson goes quickly, I can see what comes next and figure out how to move on. Flipping through page after page, I lose track of it.

    I wouldn't mind having a page chart for each subject for the week, that would only be 5 pages, but here I am with 16 pages of words, words, words.

    I'm tired. I need to go to bed.

    I feel so defeated.
     
  7. Ron6103

    Ron6103 Habitué

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    Oct 4, 2009

    It amazes me how little standardization there is on lesson planning, nationwide. Granted, I teach high school.. but I teach four different subjects. And I too have to turn in plans each week, but all my plans ever are, are this:

    Topic: Egyptian Religion
    Activity: PowerPoint, Discussion, Map Assignment
    Classwork: Read Chapter 2, Section 4. Complete Reading Questions
    Homework: Complete Unit Assignment #1

    ... and that's it. That's my plan for a class period. I just cannot imagine doing a full, formal lesson plan, for every class. I'd go insane, and it wouldn't help. Heck, I don't always even need to look at what I write down anymore. Such a detailed plan would be useless for me, and the admin would almost never even look at it....
     
  8. kcjo13

    kcjo13 Phenom

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    Ron, that is almost exactly what I do for each subject. I add standards, since ours are checked for standards (well, they say they are checked, I have never heard of anyone in my school actually doing the checking or what would happen if you didn't. I actually forgot to include standards the week before last-accidentally, I meant to go back after I was finished, and just forgot-and no one said a word).

    I just have to think I would be organizing a protest. If no one does it, what are they going to do? OK, not probably realistic, but seriously!
     
  9. lilmisses1014

    lilmisses1014 Comrade

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    Oct 5, 2009

    Rain, I am TOTALLY with you on this one. It took me about 4 hours to do my plans as well... that's not counting the time put towards my small groups plans.

    My school (which is been Title 1 for quite a while) didn't meet AYP for the third consecutive year, so we're a focus school now. On top of everything else we have to do, we also need to complete tier reports for our weekly math, reading, and writing assessments. If the students don't make at least a 70 on an assessment, we have to review the information with them and give them another assessment... if they still don't master the SOL, then they are triple-dosed. I don't know what happens after that, but apparently our evaluations are based on these reports. What's really frustrating is that all of the teachers at my school are fantastic educators who bust their butts... the problem isn't that the teachers and administrators aren't doing their jobs, it's that we have a large population of parents who couldn't care less about their childrens' education.

    Don't even get me started on the new grading guide...
     
  10. JoviHawk

    JoviHawk Rookie

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    Ridiculous!! OMG!! I can write my lessons how ever I want to. Do you have a teacher's union? My union would NEVER let that be mandated. We do not get paid enought for that crap. "They" are going to lose good teachers because of policys like that.
    So sorry for that BS.
     
  11. czacza

    czacza Multitudinous

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    Oct 5, 2009

    Unfortunately, when required to do the inane types of plans that are required of you, Rainstorm, it kind of takes the joy out of it. More time for writing plans, less time for creativity, learning in the moment. Sad.
     
  12. gottagoodgig

    gottagoodgig Companion

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    CRAZY! We have a lot of our plates too. RtI, PLC, common assessments, but NOTHING compared to what you are doing. My plans are in a plan book (as are all the other teachers I know at my school.) I do post "Targets" for every lesson which are tied to state standards but are written in kid-friendly language. Even for my formal observations, I can photocopy out of the teacher's manual. I usually add some writing about my instructional groups, my differentiation, etc. What you are being asked to do seems OVER THE TOP. I'm sorry and I hope that you find a place to work that affords you the professional treatment you are entitled to! Good luck!
     
  13. Tasha

    Tasha Phenom

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    Oct 5, 2009

    I cannot imagine this. My LP have to include objective, procedure, materials, and evaluation but it all gets on 3 pages in a table format so I can see the whole week for a subject on one page. It is one thing to write out lesson plans with enough detail that a sub could follow it and another to waste your time. Lesson plans that are that lengthy are no longer useful, you can't follow that during class or glance at it to make sure you covered your points and completed activities when it is that long and at some point you are searching for words to fit in a box, not reflecting real teaching practices.
     
  14. swansong1

    swansong1 Virtuoso

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    WAAAYYY over the top!!! I was trying to think of a way you could get them on the computer and write as much as possible that is repetitive (like the categories you posted). If you can at least get the repetitive stuff done, you can fill in by hand the particulars. Is that possible?
    I know what the job market is like right now, but, I would seriously look for a change. You can't be expected to remain the high quality teacher you are and continue to be demeaned in this manner.
     
  15. newoldteacher

    newoldteacher Companion

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    It's hogwash...as we saw in the deep south! We're a Title I School, too, but have no such requirements. My lesson plans, and I do them for our grade-level, take front and back of ONE page. I do list course of study standards numbers, but haven't changed my math since beginning of the year. It makes no difference in how I'm teaching my kids. You need to organize as teachers and say "we can do one of two things...teach, or write lesson plans THIS INANE way. We can't do both."
     
  16. Bumble

    Bumble Groupie

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    Rainstorm, I'm in the same boat! They want us to use those crazy long LPs that only college students use! I keep handing in what I think are correct lesson plans, but they keep changing the requirements. We are beyond a Title 1 school. We haven't made AYP in 6 years! We are starting to be "reconstructed". Reconstruction is crazy they expect too much in a short period of time.

    I was handed an inch thick stack of rubrics/papers that need to be turned into posters. I only have a certain amount of wall space. I guess I need to start creating more wall space. I still need to post student work somewhere too. I hope a special ed teacher tells me my posters are too distracting for the LD kids because I actually think they are.
     
  17. schoolteacher

    schoolteacher Habitué

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    We have to post those same rubrics and posters. We hang them on the window shades.

    Luckily, our plans are only three pages long. And even luckier for me, we use the same plans as last year, just cut and paste them on this year's dates.
     
  18. Brendan

    Brendan Fanatic

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    I keep my plans organized by unit. I number the days within each unit and assign the date to each day the week previous. My plans would look something like this:

    Monday October 5, 2009 (Unit 1, Day 12):
    Topic: Unit Assesment
    Work Due Today: Christianity Ethics Packet
    Class Activities: Collect Friday's CW and Unit Test
    Homework: Complete the "Preamble to Islam" reading and complete a Proof of Reading on the Assignment

    Tuesday October 6, 2009 (Unit 2, Day 1):
    Topic: Beginnings of Islam
    Word Due: "Preamble to Islam" Proof of Reading
    Class Activities: Collect/Review Homework, Origins of Islam Notes, and Islam History Stations (begin).
    Homework: None, Station Packets (Classwork Grade) due Friday.
     
  19. glitterfish

    glitterfish Comrade

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    Your precious time could be better spent on other activities, school-related or otherwise.

    By requiring this of you, your school is truly failing its students. Think of the other things you could be doing for the kids if you weren't required to do this nonsense.

    It is time to change schools!
     
  20. dannyboy

    dannyboy Companion

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    Time to look for a nearby school district!
     
  21. Yank7

    Yank7 Habitué

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    Who are you writing these plans for. It is much too extensive to be of much value during the hectic school day. It sounds like it is being required by a school board that has no idea what a classroom is like,but is more interested in impressing any visitors to their schools.
    It isa shame that your state has no union presence as this would never be allowed.hope when teachers start complaining an leaving for more reasonable jobs someone will realize the teachers effort and energy is beinf sapped by these requirements. Good Luck.
     
  22. Hoot Owl

    Hoot Owl Aficionado

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    Do a lot of copying and pasting. Who is reading all that junk anyhow?

    It just burns me up that common sense has been thrown out the door!


     
  23. missamie

    missamie Rookie

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    I used to have to put standards and everything in my lesson plans when I taught in the public schools. Now in my small private school we just have to have plans for a sub.
    With that being said, however, we have a small staff of very experienced teachers, no union and teachers are fired quickly if they don't perform. But it is nice to determine for ourselves how best to get the job done.
     
  24. ranchan1_2

    ranchan1_2 Rookie

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    Lesson plans should not be that excessive.. Lessons change and things happen throughout the day that you cannot control (random fire drills, students this year don't get it as fast as last years) so you need to spend either less time or more time on a lesson. Lesson plans are meant to be flexible. Also there are those times when a kid's question would spark a tangent and the lesson explores that question. That is how real learning is supposed to be.

    Most of my colleagues and myself write our lesson plans in point form or one sentence. We know what objectives we have to teach by the end of the term. It is up to us and the students on how we want to fulfill them. The lesson plan should only be a guidance and quick refresher on where we are. I'm not going to stand in front of the class with my lesson plan in hand, reading word for word on what I'm supposed to teach.

    If you believe you're not alone on this then let yourself be heard; by colleagues, principals and parents on this. In Alberta, the standardized provincial exam for grade 3 is on its way to be axed because a parent/teacher started to voice her opinion. There will be a lot of supporters on your side.
     
  25. teacherforlife

    teacherforlife Rookie

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    So what would happen if you just didn't make all the changes? I would write lesson plans but I would not take my weekend to do it. I stay after school one day to complete my plans. They are very good and I only take up two pages. You know what I would do just to be irritating. I would type them in the smallest font as possible so that you have included everything they have requested and then say you just didn't want to waste paper. Hee Hee Do you really think they will fire you because you didn't do your plans like some obsessive compulsive person?
     
  26. EMonkey

    EMonkey Connoisseur

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    You might just cut and paste. It will take a long time to do it the first day but after that it won't take that much time.

    You might contact the Virginia Education Association. Even if you are not a member they may give suggestions that can help.

    You also might put together a letter to the board from the entire staff who are required to do this.

    You might as a staff do it together at the next meeting instead of listening to the admin (you would need the whole staff). If they ask why, explain on the spot that it takes more than 4 hours on the weekend to do this and that you all are not getting the necessary sleep and relaxation time; so as a staff you decided it would be better to try and listen to them while doing it during paid hours so you could get the rest you need on the weekend.
     
  27. RainStorm

    RainStorm Phenom

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    .
     
  28. cutelilram

    cutelilram Rookie

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    Oct 10, 2009

    I am not required to write up my lesson plans in any specific way and I do use one of those teacher planner books. It currently takes me about six hours to write my lessons each week, which kills my Saturdays. Maybe it is because I only have two years experience and I like to think through each lesson as I plan. I also like to read through the teacher guides that we need to follow to get a better idea of the topic. This is my third year of teaching and my first year of teaching a new grade in a new school. But I too am looking for ways to cut down on the planning time so that I could have more time to read PD books which would help me grow as a teacher.

    Last year, my other school gave a format for lesson plans that they wanted typed and it took me 8 hours every weekend to type the 25 lessons for the week. It really does take all the joy out of teaching and when you finish planning, the last thing you want to think about is making charts or grading papers. Your mind is mush.

    My current lesson plans that I write in my teacher plan book follow this format (it is a format that I received from my mentor who had over 20 years of teaching experience):

    Focus
    Mini lesson
    Independent/group work:
    Share

    The mini lesson section is the largest and includes questions that I would ask the students and major points that I want to touch on. I found that when I typed all of my plans last year: A) I never sat and held them as I taught or read from them like a script, B) Come Monday, I had already forgotten much of what I had spent 8 or more hours planning, and C) Nobody ever looked at them! They collected the plans once! And like an idiot I continued to type while the other teachers went back to planning the way they had prior to the new format. Also, I teach in New York City and both of the schools where I have taught are Title 1.
     
  29. TeacherGrl7

    TeacherGrl7 Devotee

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    Oct 10, 2009

    Ridiculous! I remember having to write lesson plans like that in college, and asking if all teachers did this for every lesson plan. The response was, "These types of formats are for students that need to see and be acutely aware of the why and how of teaching a particular lesson. This is unnecessary for professionals."

    I think that they are undermining your professionalism by requiring this. If the students are not performing up to par, there must be a better way of improving than this! I feel for you in this job market, but I would start looking for something else NOW.
     

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