Ditch the Plan!

Screen Shot 2013-11-15 at 8.31.43 AMGoal 21: Ditch the Plan! of The 30 Goals Challenge for Educators

“I’m going to keep the door open, and keep the page blank, and see what gets painted upon it.” ~ Tom Hiddleston

This year’s 30 Goals Challenge theme is, “This is MY Moment.” Each goal focuses on getting educators to believe their plans of action now will lead to positive changes and transformation in their teaching and learning environments. Join our our 30 Goals Facebook community to vote on goals and receive support.

My Reflection

Lesson plans and a curriculum make life as an educator manageable. Thanks to the thousands of creative teachers who share online, we can access and use tons of free quality lesson plans. I’ve bookmarked where to find these lesson plans on The 30 Goals Community blog, A Lesson Plan a Day.

However, at some point in our growth we have to learn to adapt and be flexible. Circumstances often arise in which our plan simply will not work, such as an unexpected assembly or fire drill. The worst thing to do is stress over the matter and panic, because our learners are intuitive. They notice and often panic as well. Instead, we can capitalize on this time to try something different. We can play a game, host a debate, host a discussion, Skype in a guest expert, do a warm-up or icebreaker activity, or try teaching unplugged (Dogme), which advocates teaching in a way that is conversation driven, materials light, and dependent upon emergent language from students.

One activity that has been effective with my learners was getting them to write what they learned that day on the board. Students gathered around the board. I gave them colored dry erase markers. Each student took a dry erase marker and just wrote down a fact or idea they heard before walking into class. Then I told students to read the ideas. They had to choose at least 2 ideas to contribute a fact, idea, or experience. We learn a lot from each other this way and it gets them moving and talking about many ideas. You can read about the activity in my post, Teaching Unplugged With a Student Interaction Whiteboard.

Another time to ditch the plan is when “teachable moments” arise. If our lesson plans leave room for students to add input then we can have many teachable moments.

We can turn a stressful situation into something meaningful and fun.

For this goal:

Short-term goal- Pick one class period to ditch the original lesson plan or next time you see the opportunity for a teachable moment, seize it!

Long-term goal- Leave room each week to be flexible and allow for teachable moments. We need to let the learning go where it needs to if we want to nourish curiosity.


Ditch the lesson plan for one lesson this week or have a teachable moment.

Please leave a comment that you accomplished this goal by either posting your own video reflection on Youtube, using the hashtag #30GoalsEdu, posting on the 30 Goals Facebook group, or adding a comment below! All goals are organized in this 30 Goals Livebinder.

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Please fill out this Google Form if you reflected on at least 1 goal so you will be listed in a 30 Goals blog list and on a 30 Goals Twitter list.

*Image above adapted.  CC, Flickr

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Shelly Terrell

Shelly Sanchez Terrell is a teacher trainer, instructional designer, adjunct professor, and the author of The 30 Goals Challenge for Teachers: Small Steps to Transform Your Teaching and Learning to Go: Lesson Ideas for Teaching with Mobile Devices, Cell Phones and BYOT. She has been recognized by the ELTon Awards, The New York Times, the Ministry of Education in Spain, and Microsoft’s Heroes for Education as an innovator in the movement of teacher-driven professional development and education technology. Recently, she was named Woman of the Year 2014 by Star Jone’s National Association of Professional Women and awarded a Bammy Award as a founder of #Edchat, the Twitter chat that spurred over 400 teacher chats. She has trained teachers and taught learners in over 25 countries and has consulted with organizations worldwide such as UNESCO Bangkok, The European Union aPLaNet Project, Cultura Iglesa of Brazil, the British Council in Tel Aviv, IATEFL Slovenia, HUPE Croatia, and VenTESOL. She shares regularly via TeacherRebootCamp.com, Twitter (@ShellTerrell), and Facebook.com/shellyterrell. Her greatest joy is being the mother of Rosco the pug.

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