Back to School Lesson Plans and Activities

If coming back to school is hard for teachers, they should stay home. It would be far better for their students if they did. Back to school lesson plans and activities have much that is touchy-feely-good about them in these papers. Everyone has empathy and a charismatic touch about the job that teaching entails. If what is proposed by and large is what is happening in the classroom there is much to fear.

A teacher going into the classroom should know a lot about her students before she, the teacher, enters the classroom. She also ought to know her subject or subjects. Far too many elementary school teachers are not sufficiently knowledgeable about some of the areas they teach. For far too many it is math and science. Although I did meet a middle school teacher of English who insisted that paragraph and essay were one and the same. When she asked for essay, and the students wrote essays, she downgraded because the students had been asked to write paragraphs; after all, she knew this because she had been a lawyer in another life. Point goes to the teacher.

All lesson plans ought to be taught based upon knowledge of the subject and knowledge of the students’ knowledge of the concept one proposes to teach. Plan well, know what concept one want his students to learn, teach it well by modeling it well, step by step, make sure that students understand along the way by periodically checking for understanding and then assess what they know by testing their knowledge and correcting as you check their progress and re-teach when it becomes necessary.

This formula is as true for high school students as it is for elementary school students. Why send elementary school students home with homework to do that they do not understand. Better to make sure that they do before they leave. But teachers are so made to believe that all activities have to be fun that hardly any learning takes place in the classroom that is better than fun stuff. Those attitudes inculcated in teachers somewhere along the line, even in those teachers who recall their own experience of being side by side with students who did not understand while they teacher went on and on about lovely things that mattered for the moment but not for the long run.

So the measure of good lessons plans is that it helps the student to understand the concept, the idea, the method, and the process that are presented in a lesson. A lesson has an objective the objective is to present a concept for students to learn and master. It matters not that the student is in first grade or in an advanced class somewhere.

Yes! Yes! The teacher needs to be sensitive, has to be understanding, has to be alert, has to be conversant, and has to be able to connect with his students. But all the while, he must be guided by the goal of his lesson, which is to teach something that students can grasp, put their minds around so that they can smile and think. Yes, I understand. I can do this.

All this check and check plus may matter, but what matters to the student, really matters, is that he/she gets it.