Crossing Over: Teaching Meaning-Centered Secondary English Language Arts

By Harold M. Foster | Go to book overview

chapter TWELVE
Planning for an English/Leanguage
Arts Classroom

Introduction

This story may be apocryphal or it may be true: Alfred Hitchcock felt his movie scripts were perfect, so when he actually put a film into production, he felt he was presiding over the erosion of a perfect work of art. The reality of the film could never live up to the perfection of the concept.

I have always felt teaching is like that. I see teachers as the creators of two major works of art. The first is the creation of the plan. The second is the act of teaching. No matter how perfect my plans, my execution of them is different than I had imagined—not always worse, but different. However, I find both acts, teaching and planning, to be extremely rewarding, artistic creations in which I can take great pride. And like Alfred Hitchcock's movies, the teaching I perform begins with the script, my plans.


Planning Process

Planning, like writing, is a process. For Joanne Adler (Chapter Three), planning is more important than the plans themselves. She knows of veteran teachers who walk into a classroom with virtually no written plans, but who teach great classes. Years of planning and mental preparation make such feats possible, although Joanne would not recommend a beginner try to teach without written plans. Yet written plans are mere guideposts. The act of thinking them through by writing them is everything for her.

This is why Joanne cannot use anyone else's plans to teach. No matter how beautiful the curriculum guide, no matter how perfect the published plans, Joanne cannot use them unless she has made them.

As with most experienced teachers, Joanne's plans do not begin from scratch. She builds on her previous plans, even if it's a new course. If an anthropologist could study her plans to understand her as a teacher, the scientist would find

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