Question: Principals asking for lesson plans and doctor's notes unlike in the past. What can we do?Mulgrew Answer: The administration could always ask to see a lesson plan but they cannot dictate format or collect them ritualistically. We are not publicizing what we are doing behind the scenes but we are working on reigning in onerous administration. We are also waiting for a decision on the lesson plan arbitration.
Many teachers are still being told that lesson plans, while only "suggested," must contain specific criteria as "suggested" by administration (including AIM, learning objectives, standards met, timed activities, and assessments), must have all activities with exact times, must have assessments for all activities and all activity assessments must have expected outcomes/student responses in detail.
Some administrators are taking lesson plans on mini-Danielson drive-by's and handing out "ineffectives" and "developings" if the lesson plans do not meet the administration's "suggested" format.
Now I'm no lawyer, but it seems to me what I have just described in the two paragraphs above is dictating lesson plan format, collecting them ritualistically and using them in an onerous way against teachers.
I hope the UFT leadership works this problem out, either in negotiations with the de Blasio administration (which is the most preferable) or through the arbitration process.
One of the new delights brought to us by Sheriff Andy Cuomo's APPR teacher evaluation system as imposed upon us by NYSED Commissioner King per Cuomo's dictum has been the absolute fetishization of the lesson plan to the point of absurdity.
Teachers are being told lesson plans are as important as the lessons themselves and even if an observed lesson is declared excellent during a Danielson drive-by, teachers can still be dinged "ineffective" or "developing" on the lesson plan component if the administrator decides the teacher's lesson plan does not live up to the "suggested" format.
Now I have always written lesson plans throughout my entire career but I do not get bogged down in the minutiae that some of the "suggested" formats I have seen handed around get bogged down in - in particular including every expected student response for every question asked and exact times for every activity.
In short, I use lesson plans for big picture stuff - AIM, objectives, standards, activities - but not absolute scripts to be obsessively written and followed throughout lessons.
The EngageNY lesson plans promoted by NYSED are exactly that - obsessive scripts devised to be followed to the letter - and what I hear from teachers and students unfortunate enough to be using those scripts is that the lessons are stilted and boring and students feel disengaged from the material.
Part of the problem there is not just the planning format but the lessons themselves - the material there is close reading of the same text day after day after day with nothing but text-based questions for students to respond to with text-based evidence.
But the obsessive detail in those lesson plans (a one-day lesson plan can be 10 pages long) is a problem as well and points to a bigger problem overall with Danielson, APPR and the teacher evaluations.
This is all about compliance, plain and simple, and using these mechanisms to keep teachers in constant fear for their jobs.
A ten page lesson plan does not make for better teachers nor for better lessons.
It does ensure compliance in every classroom with exactly what John King wants taught, however, if every teacher is afraid to deviate from the lesson plan format in case of a Danielson drive-by.
I am happy to hear the UFT knows the lesson plan fetishization issue is a problem, but I am not so sure they understand just how big a problem it is.