Sometimes I think we teachers are so invested in our work that we exhaust ourselves and flame out before spring break. What fatigues me the most is the endless chase for the perfect lesson. I feel like I’ve been on a treadmill logging miles, getting tons of exercise, but in the end I’m right back where I started. I can’t tell you how many hours I’ve spent searching 3-Act Tasks, Desmos, Shell, #MTBOS and other resources for that perfect lesson. What caused this endless search and what am I truly looking for?
Shortly after the Common Core was adopted, our math department took on the task of breaking down the standards to write our own curriculum. At the time, you may recall, textbook publishers were simply slapping the Common Core label on their lessons.
Our math department knew there should be something more, but we lacked the time and curriculum development expertise to write a coherent and cohesive scope and sequence. Following a structure and level of rigor based on our previous textbook adoption wasn’t enough. Thus the endless search for the perfect lesson.
Since we’ll be piloting the 6-8 IM curriculum this year, I won’t be searching for the perfect lesson. That’s not to say every IM lesson will be perfect, but we need to stay true to the pilot if we want to evaluate the curriculum with fidelity. This pilot will allow me to hop off that treadmill.
But the question remains, what am I truly looking for in a lesson? If I am to trust that each lesson has clear learning goals and is sequenced appropriately, my job then becomes to ensure continuous, embedded, formative assessment so I can offer effective feedback to advance learning. That’s a mouthful; it may be a cliche; but it’s true.
This year I’ll be spending my time and energy on the least dazzling but most essential part of a lesson.