If you are a laid-back, in-the-moment, fly by the seat of your pants kind of person, you may want to consider reading the following post in small increments. Or drinking a glass of wine before you read it. It’s up to you. You’ve been forewarned.
When it comes to lesson planning, I am overly thorough. I leave nothing to chance. I plan for every imaginable eventuality. My colleagues at Key Ministry think this is rather funny, and enjoy ribbing me about it a good deal. When I mention, “I went over my plans and tweaked a few things for my lecture., and I redid the notes,” I’m usually met with a deadpan, “Really? YOU revised and rewrote your notes? Color me surprised.”
But here’s the thing, folks…this kind of over-planning WORKS. I promise. When I first learned this way back in undergraduate school, I, like many of my fellow student teachers, balked at it….until we were faced with 6 hours of solo teaching. Suddenly, this made perfect sense. I can still hear my professor, Judy Butler, admonishing us with her southern drawl, “Girls. I promise you. You have to plan EVERY SINGLE MINUTE. Kids get in trouble when they don’t know what they’re supposed to be doing.” Her no-nonsense wisdom has served me extremely well over the years, and I want you to benefit from it as well.
Let’s compare two lesson plans for a second-grade mid-week program. Here is the first, an outline of activities:
Kids arrive, do worksheet
Opening activity (procedure in teacher’s manual)
Read Bible story
Have kids write in their journals
Talk about field trip to the nursing home (next week’s activity)
Work on class mural
Discuss the importance of obeying God
Clean up the classroom
Sing closing song
Let’s look at that same lesson, “Judy Butler” style…
7:00-7:05 Kids arrive, write on “Weekly News Board,” work on tabletop activities
7:05-7:06 Transition to front of the room by playing follow the leader
7:06-7:10 Introduce the evening’s topic, have kids pick color cubes from basket; break into small groups according to color to do opening activity (See teacher’s manual for activity)
7:10-7:20 Read the Bible story from manual; have kids write three facts in their journal
Stand and play “praise ball” (kids tell the group something they’re thankful for when they catch the ball)
7:20-7:28 Return to seats while singing “This Little Light of Mine.” In preparation for next week’s service project (visiting the nursing home), practice introducing each other and asking “getting-to-know- you” questions.
7:28-7:30 Give verbal and visual directions for group activities. Transition to small group activity rotations (15 minutes each)
- Small group discussion with teacher (questions in manual)
- Mural project with teen helper
- Free choice from the back table supervised by teen helper
8:15 clean up, closing ceremonies
8:20 “Veggie Tales” movie until parents arrive
Do you see the difference?
I know it seems tedious. You might even be saying, “Really, Katie…you are planning down to the minute!” Yep. That’s right. I am. And it works. Planning arrivals, transitions and breaks is just as important as planning your content. You need to plan how these procedures for your class so that everyone is on-task, engaged, and learning. This helps kids learn kindness, turn-taking and respect…it helps them to function like a church family!
Will this method of planning make all of your lessons perfect? Will it prevent all difficult behavior? Nope. But it will help tremendously as you move through your curriculum, and as you endeavor to build a cohesive, caring classroom culture.
Oh…Judy also said, “If kids know you love them…REALLY love them…they’ll follow your lead.”
Tune in for the final segment of this series later this week!