Planning, Management, Motivation- Week 3
As week three is upon us, it seems appropriate that the focus of chapter 3 of Instructional Strategies for Middle and Secondary Social Studies by Larson and Keiper is titled “Planning, Managing, Motivation”. My partner and I presented our first lesson plan this week, so I feel that the importance of time management, having a designated way of planning, and motivation for teaching has been on my mind. I like the way that Larson and Keiper break down planning from a broad, yearlong scope down to the unit and eventually lesson. They discuss using textbooks to guide yearlong planning, which is a very simple strategy that will make the chronology a little more clear. I feel like as a new teacher I worry a lot about timing and going too fast/slow with planning and using the textbook is a good starting point. In my CT’s classroom, he uses the textbook very strongly to guide his lessons, but he personally thinks the textbook leaves out a lot of important info so he scaffolds the info in the text with his own handouts. I also remember having teachers use textbooks out of order during grade school because of the different organization of textbooks, so that is something to keep in mind.
The next point that I think is critical is the discussion of the “four commonplaces in school”, including teacher, students, subject matter, and milieu (environment). One of the strategies that I have gained from my CT is being flexible with planning, depending on the class period. Each of his classes has a very different dynamic and he sort of “rolls with the punches” in that he will change the way he presents information, amount of work the students are expected to do in class, etc. depending on his knowledge of student ability and the milieu of each classroom. For example, the honors class often gets much more into discussion and sometimes even a little off topic, but my teacher will let them explore their ideas for a while because he knows they will get through lectures and remember specific information faster for the assessment.
The idea of unit planning is very appealing to me because I like to chunk information into time periods and think it would be cool to present a “theme” for what the class will be learning. I also think it would help in adding creativity because I could brainstorm activities that would work cool with each individual unit. I do see a challenge in actually keeping up with writing specific plans like this, but think it would be helpful, especially in terms of timing.
Another section that made me feel a little more at ease was on discipline and management of the classroom. Larson and Keiper even mention how discipline is especially important for new teachers. I often worry about establishing my presence in the classroom and setting boundaries as a young teacher. Out of the different models presented, I especially liked Kounin’s because of the different suggestions for engaging students, being aware of what’s happening in the classroom at all times, and providing challenging expectations as a means of behavior management. I do think that behavior problems and establishing teacher presence is much less of an issue if the students don’t have down time to cause problems. It will be important to balance the idea of engaging and fast-pace learning without creating a stressful classroom environment.