As classroom teachers we sometimes get bored with the same old lessons. But trying new ready-to-go lesson plans can backfire. Here’s why.
A million years ago when I first started teaching, I spent way too much time and money at the Teacher Supply Store hunting for teaching ideas and ready-to-go lesson plans.
Today it’s Teachers Pay Teachers, Pinterest, Education World, and other on-line databases instead of the Teacher Supply Store, but the idea is the name – fresh new activities to do with your class.
We tend to think we need to keep coming up with brand-new ways of presenting information to our students so they won’t get bored. And that’s true, as long as we don’t overdo it.
But changing things up all the time in our classes may not always be the best strategy because it can waste valuable instructional time and undermine our classroom management.
Here are seven ways ready-to-go lesson plans can backfire:
Backfire #1 – You Won’t Be as “With-It”
A key to great classroom management is “withitness” – the ability read the room and take the right action to prevent problems before they occur. When we are concentrating on following an unfamiliar lesson plan or leading an activity for the first time, some of our attention will be used up and we won’t be as “with-it.”
Backfire #2 – Boredom
This lesson plan backfire is counter-intuitive. After all, aren’t we trying to keep it interesting by doing things differently? But when we are using a new teaching method, we will need to give more instructions, directions, and explanations to our students, which many students find boring. Bored students sometimes misbehave just to keep things interesting.
Backfire #3 – Lost Confidence
Many students enjoy feeling capable. It gives them confidence to know the “right” way to approach a learning task. When we change it up too much, some students can feel uncertain or lost. And unfortunately, sometimes this feeling causes them to act up in an attempt to feel better.
Backfire #4 – Avoidance Misbehavior
Some of our students use misbehavior to get out of an activity if they perceive it as “too hard.” And learning a new procedure at the same time they are trying to learn new content can be too much.
Backfire #5 – Rocky Transitions
Smooth transitions are crucial for good classroom management. Transitions that are confusing or that take too long are student misbehavior magnets. This is why effective teachers spend weeks developing systems around transitions, and teaching them to their students. When you introduce a new type of lesson plan, even a ready-to-go lesson plan, there will be new transitions to learn, and they will not be as smooth.
Backfire #6 – Teacher Stress
Even if you are excited about a new type of activity, leading it for the first time can be stressful. Stress can make it difficult to respond well to your students.
Backfire #7 – Choppy Momentum
One of the best ways to avoid behavior issues in the classroom is to keep things moving. Even if the ready-to-go lesson comes with great directions, you may need to pause and refer to them from time to time. This can stop momentum and cause student misbehavior.
What To Do Instead
When you find a cool new activity or idea on Pinterest, see if you can fit it into the learning routines your students already know. Or if you decide to try a brand-new learning method, use that method for more than one lesson. Not only will you make it less likely for the lesson to backfire, you will be able to shift more of the responsibility for learning onto your students, go deeper academically, and save yourself tons of time.
How about you? Do you agree that changing routines can lead to behavior problems? I’m always interested to hear what you think.
Now go create a great day for yourself and your students!
Katrina Ayres, PositiveTeachingStrategies.com
PS – Would you like more practical classroom management strategies that work? Check out the Monday Morning Sanity Boost archives. If you like what you see, you may want to gain access to even more strategies that I only share with Awesome Teacher Nation members. You can join here. It’s free!