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Theory vs. Practice

January 29, 2012

I spent last year preparing millions of lesson plans for imaginary ESL classes. Each of these assignments would start off with two or three pages of detailed background information about the students, the class, the curriculum, the possible problems that could arise and the solutions by which I proposed to handle them (the “teacher” was neither instructed nor expected to take her real-life character flaws into account when completing this section), etc., and then the lesson plan itself would be page after page of meticulously organized and described information slotted into a five- or six-column grid. Needless to say, the whole thing was typed and came complete with ten or eleven worksheets, all of which, also needless to say, I had happily created from scratch. It was fun to invent activities, so much more fun than photocopying them out of a textbook. It was a delight to spend five days writing a unit on English literature. It was no trouble to spend an evening anally cutting out cards for a game that would be played only by hypothetical students. I did very well in my program, graduating with a something-point-something GPA and, having given the finger to two bleak unemployed years, walking briskly into a fullish-time teaching position, the details of which I won’t get into, but best believe I’m already a balled-up hedgehog of anxiety about work tomorrow.

On my first day, seconds after removing my coat, I was told that in lieu of orientation I would be tossed into a classroom to sub for someone.

Friends and lovers, there are many salient differences between theory and practice.

To the teaching program students who will stumble across this page: this is what a real lesson plan looks like. It only takes ten minutes to make, because that’s how much time you have before the class starts.

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