Teachers, I have your attention right? I’m not talking about waiting until Sunday night to figure out what you’re doing this week. I am proposing a strategic mindset that will make your instruction more malleable, meaningful, and thought provoking.
There is value (backed up via research and evidence) in daily lesson planning and unit planning strengthened by a culture of collaborative PLCs.
On the flip-side, there are many lesson plan templates, forms, processes, and mandates that force teachers to be overly detailed in the name of compliance. Teachers may be asked to submit plans far in advance and it must match exactly to what is happening in the classroom at the moment described in the plan.
By all means, yes, plan. But don’t plan a detailed lesson plan in advance. Why?…
I’m really enjoying Adam Grant’s book, Originals. In his book he speaks to the moments where procrastination inspires innovative ideas, because it allows a person’s mind to wander, leading to more divergent thinking.
He also shares that some of the greatest moments of human history are due to procrastination, including Martin Luther King’s famous “I have a dream” speech, Abraham Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address and Leonardo Da Vinci’s Mona Lisa. The greatest speeches in history were re-written, revised, and in some cases created at the last minute so that there was flexibility to improvise in the moment, as opposed to getting the script set in stone weeks in advance.
Here are 3 ways to help you procrastinate lesson planning without the stress.
1.) Futurecast. This sounds diametrically opposed to procrastination, but it’s actually not. You know 3 or 4 weeks (even further out than this) from now you’ll be teaching a particular concept. That means you’ll be mulling over a sundry of strategies, possibilities, and ideas, not really settling on one. You will always be future casting for learning opportunities down the road, but it’s a a picture that’s coming into focus. The plan and it’s component parts will be a work in progress leading to the day the lesson is taught.
2.) Sketch. Sketch out your plans. Use tech or a pencil and paper. (I’ve really enjoyed learning the Paper App @FiftyThree, thank you master @aaron_hogan!) Regardless of the medium, plans should be changing based on new evidence, how students are progressing toward current goals, and how current instructional strategies are working.
3.) Experiment. Innovations always result from a source (problem/error). The first iterations are never where we want to live nor will they yield the most success. We make progress through experimentation and refining different possibilities. Within your PLC teams, decide who will teach the lesson before anyone else on the team (this “first-timer” designation rotates each time). Coordinate a time to observe, reflect on and debrief the lesson, and decide collectively how you will make the lesson even better. You’ll have to synchronize your pacing and embrace a “trial and error” perspective on teaching, but it’s worth the opportunity to innovate and improve teaching and learning.
Intentional procrastination isn’t apathy, laziness, or poor planning. It is about actively being present in the now, while keeping options open for the future. It is the space in which we root ourselves, not in delaying the inevitable or being governed by circumstances, but in the hope of growing and doing something even more remarkable.
So, what idea sparked in your mind today that will change your lesson tomorrow?