Planning – What plan?

Image by:  Stuart Miles

I remember approximately ten years ago  …  my school just received the opportunity to utilize classroom webpages.  Instantly, I thought that posting class letters, general information and homework on my class website would benefit the community.  The webmaster at that time told the staff that we were only able to update the pages once a week.  I’m not sure why, but I assume they wanted to slowly roll out this “new” technology.  I naively thought that I could just post a weeks worth of homework on my webpage on Monday and just update it on the following Monday. To say the least, my idea needed extreme tweaking. By Wednesday of that week, I was finding myself behind the homework schedule.  I was definitely finding out that my plans were not working. Around the third week of school I decided to utilize my homework idea later. After much reflection and having to explain myself numerous times, I would consider my webpage homework situation a learning experience.

Fast forward nine years later –>

Last year, I tentatively placed specific academic units in certain months and time periods in my planning book.  I used pencils with this because inevitably there are always edits to the schedule.  As the year progressed, my eraser was definitely getting its use.

These eraser marks/edits are often the caused by variables.   Scheduling conflicts and students are just two of the variables.  I appreciate the fact that students are a variable in the classroom.  Why?

Not all students learn at the same rate or the same way.  I tend to emphasize this concept during community interactions.  Advancing through the curriculum at an accelerated pace doesn’t necessarily mean that students understand and are able to apply their learning. Accelerating curriculum may mean that some topics are lightly coated.  The learning experience can be impacted (positively/negatively) through acceleration.

Now –>

I’m not advocating for less planning, but instead, I feel that educators need to tentatively plan their instruction and communicate that the pace and lesson sequencing may change.  I’ve already purchased my official school planning book for the fall and have started to sketch in a few key dates.  I’m just about ready to start mapping out the curriculum for the year.  Before writing any curriculum events, I always remember my homework situation in the first paragraph of this post.  That humbling experience has allowed me to be more proactive in setting realistic goals for students to learn and (more importantly) apply their learning.

Educators can plan until their heart is content, but their plans will not be perfect. Modifying and differentiating instruction will always need to occur for students to reach their optimal potential.

Author: Matt Coaty

I've taught elementary students for the past 14 years. I enjoy reading educational research and learning from my PLN. Words on this blog are my own.

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