Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Lesson Plan Flops

As a 2nd year teacher, I've had my share of project lessons that have ultimately failed.  Each one has a different reason for failing, whether instructions aren't clear enough, students don't understand, students don't listen, it just wasn't a good idea to begin with, etc. but nevertheless it is an idea that either needs some major overhaul or a trip to the garbage!
When you're in the middle of a project and you see it start falling apart, do you keep going and try to work through the issues/problems or do you scrap it all together and move on to something else?  I have yet to figure out the right thing to do.  My thought process leads me to want to believe that something can be learned from anything, even if it is learning what not to do.  However, is it worth the headache of trying to hold something together when it is just determined to fall apart?


  1. I think the "right" thing to do is to maintain a sense of humor. After 36 years in the classroom, I have a LOT of stories about those things that went wrong, and laughing made a huge difference - like the time I turned over a bucket of gesso that someone had left the cover off of, to show the students it was now hard as a rock - except it wasn't. I had to strip down to a lab-type smock. And that's only one story...

    Anyhow, I don't think there is right answer for you. I think the truth is, you have to decide whether to scrap the lesson or forge ahead, based on the lesson, the kids, and what went wrong. What works one time won't work the next. There are times I've forged ahead and times we've switched gears when stuff went wrong. But remember (and remind the kids, too, when something goes wrong)that in the end, it's just a sheet of paper (or whatever you are using) and include the kids in a good laugh!

  2. I always try to save it first- I'll stop the whole class and re-teach a step or clarify something. I've had a few classes where the lesson was such a disaster that I did something totally different with the next session.

  3. This just happened to me this week! I teach high school, and we started perspective. The problem was, about 1/2 my kids didn't do the homework assigned, which would've made it a breeze, so after a stressful, confusing, frustrating day with little to no success, I came in the next day and literally said, "Okay guys, so you know what? That didn't work, and we're not going to waste any more time, so let's forget the last two days and start fresh." I did a step-by-step lesson which ended up taking two more days, but in the end they all said, "I get it now!!'

    Sometimes it's worth just addressing the failure head on and saying, "I messed up. Let's try this a different way."