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Tutor Tip of the Month: Loosening your grip on your lesson plan and having more fun!

(Courtesy of Zero Prep by Laurel Pollard and Natalie Hess, Alta Book Co, 1997; by way of Livermore/Pleasanton Adult Literacy Program)

Over-preparation — working too hard — can spoil our teaching life in at least three ways:

(1) Over-preparation can make us too controlling. We as teachers feel that we need to learn it all, know it all, use it all. Even when we have planned a student-centered lesson, the plan comes from our heads, not the students'. An over-planned lesson will inevitably make us less responsive to the moment.

(2) Over-preparation can sometimes make us too busy and teacher-centered during class time because we are tied to a plan. True learning is more exploratory and allows for digressions and adjustments of time and focus based on students' interest and attitudes. This approach increases the responsibility and investment on the part of the students because they see their role in their educations.

(3) Being too busy makes us exhausted and takes away some of the joy of learning and teaching. When we are too tired to notice and tune in to our students, we are less able to do good teaching. Lesson plans have value. Noticing the difference between preparation and planning, however, allows teachers to have a vision of where the class will go, while still allowing for unexpected and valuable lessons to unfold.

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