Ability to Plan, Organize, and Prepare for Teaching

"For every minute spent organizing, an hour is earned."

Benjamin Franklin

Planning for teaching is the second professional domain, and represents three of William and Mary's Student Teacher Competencies. The ability to plan, organize, and prepare is essential for student teachers and all educators. Teachers must be able to organize their instruction for the entire school year. To achieve this goal requires adept long-range planning of semesters and units, and more short-term preparation of lesson plans. Planning connects how students learn, and when they learn. It enables teachers to create a blueprint for instruction by establishing activities and sequences that promote learning. Successful preparation reduces discipline and class management problems, and maximizes instructional time. Many students, including those with disabilities, learn better in an environment that is organized, structured, and contains planned routines. Overall, planning and organization give the teacher a clear pathway to instruction while providing expectations for learning. In return, students receive an instructor that is confident, prepared, and ready to teach.

Teacher Competencies for the Ability to Plan, Organize, and Prepare for Teaching

  1. Plans lessons that align with local, state, and national standards

  2. Selects appropriate instructional strategies and activities

  3. Selects appropriate materials and resources

1. Plans Lessons that align with local, state, and national standards

Developing unit and daily lesson plans offers the opportunity to reflect on my alignment with local, state, and national standards. I view these standards as a minimum requirement for what my students learn. Standards are helpful guidelines, but they are merely stepping stones that begin the path to an authentic social studies education.

To educate my students I develop innovative and creative ways to enhance learning. Using a structured academic controversy lesson, my students learned about the debate surrounding Columbus Day. In doing so they learned historical content concerning the Age of Exploration, colonization of the New World, the Colombian exchange, the Mid-Atlantic slave trade, and some facts about Columbus that did not make it into their textbook. Students were able to watch a video, read articles, and deliberate in order to reach a consensus while simultaneously learning state standards as outlined in my objections and lesson plan below.


2. Selects appropriate instructional strategies and activities

Before developing content and instructional strategies I produce a rationale. This rationale allows me to consider whether a lesson is appropriate or not. I confirm that the topic of content meets local, state, and national standards, and contributes to an understanding of the discipline of social studies. Next I ensure that classroom activities are engaging and will prepare students for my identified assessment. Finally, I check to make sure that the assessment measures my objectives and expectations of student learning. All these steps must be taken in order to validate my planning and preparation. Examples of my rationales can be seen here: Lesson Plan Rationales.pdf

3. Selects appropriate materials and resources.
My inquiry lesson on the causes of the French Revolution demonstrates a proficiency in selection of appropriate materials and resources. It has a clear rationale describing the purpose for teaching the topic and using an inquiry lesson as the instructional model. Its objectives align with local, state, and national standards and are correctly measured in an assessment in the form of an essay. It also provides accommodations and adaptations for students with disabilities by providing explicit oral and written direction, cooperative group work, and scaffolding. The lesson differentiates learning by providing opportunities to analyze written and visual documents, work in groups or independently, and share ideas on paper and with the class.

The lesson incorporates a variety of supplemental materials from the textbook, internet resources, and primary documents. Outside resources present alternative data sets with various levels of reading ability to match the skill level of students. Lastly, extension activities engage students by allowing them to act as historians and create their own meaningful understanding of the causes of the French Revolution which are measured by an essay.

Multimedia instructional technology has also been integrated into the lesson. The lesson begins with a short photo story I created in order to "hook" students and engage them in the days activities. The use of a document camera provides students with visual information and the ability to closely analyze a political cartoon. It greatly assists in classroom management by displaying worksheets or data sets that students should be working on. This assists students diagnosed with AD/HD to stay on task and promotes self-regulation. The lesson also uses inspiration software and a wireless keyboard; both of which make students part of the lesson by displaying their ideas and allowing them to physically alter the direction of learning.