I try my hardest to be a perfectionist. I really do. Honestly. But no matter how much I try, I know that I simply cannot make every piece of work that I do perfect. The same goes for planning for STARS and teaching.
I recently had a conversation with my CT about perfection and planning. She had figured me out and told me that I wasn’t a perfectionist. Well, yeah, totally. I always like to give myself a little wiggle room when I plan (be it for STARS, a class, or hockey practice) because if I completely script out the entire thing, I get stressed out when I deviate it in even the slightest bit. This is a little strange considering that the million page document called the Warner Lesson Plan requires that you think about every tiny detail about your lesson.
At first I was put off by the idea of backwards design. I want really fun activities during class and then my kids should be able to ace any test I give them, darn it! But, after planning by backwards design, I can’t imagine planning any other way. How else can I plan my activities for the day if I don’t know what my assessment will look like? You have to know where you’re going before you can make a plan to get there!
This doesn’t mean that this path is the only one you can take to determine student understanding. Today, I was able to put an idea from STARS into practice in my CT’s room by putting up an “I wonder…” board on the front of the room. DB is great at taking tangents and answering them without wasting 20 minutes or telling the student to save it for when we reach *this particular topic* in the unit. Today, she had Hayley write a note to herself to talk about types of diseases (like diabetes or hepatitis) when we get to the immune system. I took this opportunity to present DB with the “I wonder…” board idea as a way to listen to student voices so that we actually do remember to address that topic when we finally get to the immune system in a couple of weeks.
This is what planning is about–making sure that your students have every opportunity to understand what you want them to and also allowing them the opportunity to determine what they want to learn.