Micromanagement in Teaching – A Closer Look at Lesson Planning

By Sudeshna Mairal | Jul 8, 2019 | teachersofindia.org
It doesn't make sense to hire smart people and then tell them what to do, We hire smart people so they can tell us what to do.  ~Steve Jobs
This adage doesn’t seem to be understood by many school managements in India. They hire good teachers, and then tie them up with so many instructions that the teachers lose their freedom, their unique style of teaching, and are eventually labelled as unsuccessful teachers. One of these instructions is about the planning of a lesson.
It has been a debatable issue for quite a long time that how much detailed planning is required for a teacher before he/she goes to a class; or whether it is required or not. If required, what all should they make? Annual plan?  Monthly plan? Weekly plan? Daily plan? - Commonly in India, teachers are required to prepare all of the above, and sometimes even more.
The entire content to be taught in an academic year is broken into monthly chunks. It is further divided week wise. Some private schools have a practice of sending a fortnightly overview to the parents in advance. In that case a fortnightly planner is also required to be prepared by the teachers. Then comes the daily plans and daily logs. As if that is not enough, teachers at some schools are expected to write down minute-wise details of the teaching-learning process that is going to happen in each class of 40-45 minutes duration. The planner is then to be submitted to the academic heads, and upon approval, has to be executed meticulously in the classrooms- if there are multiple section in a class, the teaching is expected to be exactly similar in all of them.
Sounds intimidating? Yes, for a teacher, it is. Though there is no denying the fact that proper planning is the first step towards a good execution; but the question is - how much detailed? And at what cost? Does it really benefit the students?
Let’s see how it really affects the classroom transaction.
1.    Teachers are so overwhelmed with documenting the details, they have practically no time or energy to work on the actual classroom transaction and hence, the result is exactly opposite of what was expected from them.
2.    Secondly, since the written document – the lesson plan or session plan, as it is called in some schools, are given the utmost importance by the management, some teachers put in a lot of effort to make it look impressive rather than putting in the same effort in the classroom. In some cases the focus shifts to ‘how to impress the higher authorities’ ; whereas it should have been ‘ How to help the students in a better way’.
3.    In an attempt to maintain parity across the sections of the same class, all the teachers are asked to follow the same planner that has been made by one particular section teacher or someone from a different branch of the same school. This kills the creativity, innovation and individuality of a teacher. Teachers work like robots and teaching-learning process becomes boring, monotonous and predictable.
4.    This kind of micromanagement pushes the teachers to an edge where they start losing self confidence. They do not feel respected and trusted anymore as they are not allowed to do what they are supposed to know better.
5.    To top it, in many private schools, lesson plans are made months in advance, which might lose its relevance when it is actually being taught.
In my opinion, its high time schools understand that a lesson plan is a teacher’s personal plan which he/she should be able customise as per the needs of the students. It can be of any format, as long as it solves the prime purpose of helping the students.  It is not the plan, but the actual classroom transaction that has to be looked into. The teacher should be given enough freedom to teach the students in his/her own individual way because that’s why a good teacher was hired in the first place – to make learning enjoyable and impactful.

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