It seems like we’re always getting tested, doesn’t it? We’re either testing our students on what they’ve learned or being tested ourselves on our abilities as a teacher through our yearly evaluations and observations. While this testing may make us yearn for the end of the year even more, there’s one more place where assessment really should take a priority: for our lesson plans themselves.
An important part of an arts integration (or any other) lesson plan is assessing what worked and what fell flat. It’s so critical to go back through your lesson with a fine toothed comb and honestly provide yourself with some feedback. Did this part of the lesson flow to the next part? Did my assessment truly reflect the objectives I wanted my students to learn? Were both content and fine arts objectives taught or did I use the artform as a supplement to my lesson plan? What parts did I really like? At what point were the students actively engaged in their learning? The list could go on and on. In fact, I’ve made a handy little checklist that I include at the end of every lesson that I write and implement to provide myself with this honest feedback. It can also be used by a colleague as an informal peer review if you’d like to get another opinion. But I tend to use it privately when I’ve got a minute to think (which is rare!).
Another way that I’ve seen teachers assess their lesson plans is through a reflective journal. Either an actual physical journal or through a private/public blog. The method used doesn’t really matter. What is beneficial is being able to sit down and write about what you saw, heard, discussed, noticed during your lesson plan. Sometimes, writing it free-form gets those ideas flowing again and you become even more excited about your teaching. What an exciting place to be as a professional!
Once you’ve “assessed” your lesson plan, then you really need to go back and edit it with what you’ve discovered. Add some pieces, take some out, really refine your lesson plan. Then, place it back in your lesson plan binder to use again with even more success. The next time, you’ll get a richer, deeper experience for both you and your students. And that’s what teaching’s all about!
No matter how you do it, assessment of your lesson plans is an essential part of what makes a good lesson plan great, and what makes a great lesson plan fantastic. Don’t be afraid to take that last step – I promise that you won’t regret it!
Susan Riley is the founder and President of EducationCloset.com. She focuses on teacher professional development in arts integration, Common Core State Standards, 21st century learning skills, and technology. She is also a published author and frequent presenter at national conferences on Arts Integration and Arts and the Common Core.
Susan holds a Bachelor of Music degree in Music Education from the prestigious Westminster Choir College in Princeton, NJ and a Master of Science in Education Administration from McDaniel College in Westminster, MD. She lives in Westminster, MD with her husband and daughter.