I would think that there are few jobs in our world require people to plan, research, and prepare for each minute that they spend on the job. As a teacher I feel I often spend almost as much time out of class preparing for the lessons as I do teaching the actual lesson in class. I’ve heard of some people who have a file cabinet full of all the materials that they will need to teach during the year. These file cabinets have each worksheet carefully filed away in order so that the teacher simply needs to get copies and stand up in the front of the room to present their knowledge. However, this stereotype rarely rings true in teachers today.
As a reading coach one of my jobs was to go into various K-3 grade classrooms and model a lesson for the teachers. We would later collaborate and improve both of our pedagogy. I had the luxury of taking time to adequately prepare each lesson with perfect visuals, lesson progression, and attention to the students needs. Even with all of this preparation, I could never prepare for everything that the kids would do.
My first stop for the day was to do a read aloud in a kindergarten room. The students were ready for me to arrive and as I went through the lesson I found the students engaged and responsive to what was being taught. At the end of the story the students even broke out into rapturous applause. After thanking the students and teacher for allowing me to join them I went next store to another kindergarten class fifteen feet away and gave the exact same lesson in the very same way, and at the end of the lesson I got a totally different response from the students. I had to get one students arm unstuck from his twisted shirt, wake another student up, and save a third student who was attempting to eat his crayon. The students were confused, distracted, and as I left I was wondering what had gone wrong?
As I went over the lesson in my head I thought about the variables that could have created the different outcomes. I thought about the teachers, classroom layout, student abilities, etc.? As I looked at the teachers schedule I realized that the second lesson took place closer to playtime than the first lesson. My small window of teachable time had evaporated.
Teachers spend hours deciding what to teach and how to teach it. They then spend even more time collecting materials, manipulatives, and examples. Then when all the preparation is done they have to be ready to throw it all out and adjust to the constantly changing dynamics of their class. With various student needs, classroom interruptions, behaviors it is amazing that students make the gains they do each year. The reason they do is because professional educators are awesome and can accomplish amazing results with the little time and resources they are given. Maybe someday soon the world will realize what accomplished professionals educators really are.
(What are some of the reasons you have had lessons bomb? )