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Shifting From Planning for Teaching to Planning for Learning

By October 4, 2023May 30th, 2024No Comments

Research on effective teaching and learning confirms that thoughtfully designed unit plans and lesson plans can help all students learn more deeply, especially when teachers shift how they think about and approach their lesson planning, moving away from a teacher-centric perspective and toward a student-centric one. A teacher-centric perspective (planning for teaching) focuses mostly on planning the sequence of actions the teacher will undertake to present the lesson, whereas a student-centric perspective (planning for learning) considers what students will need to experience, and when, to spark their initial interest and motivation for learning, helping them build and retain their new knowledge, and support deep learning.

In classrooms worldwide, we’ve seen that this simple shift to planning for learning often leads to a breakthrough moment for many teachers, one that lifts them to becoming expert practitioners. That’s likely because as teachers consider what’s happening in students’ minds while they’re teaching, they become more intentional with their practice. They understand not just what strategies and activities to use to help their students learn, but also when and why to use various strategies for specific student’s needs at specific times for maximum effect.

This brief 4-page overview offers a basic background on planning for student learning and provides a few suggested next steps for school leaders and teachers interested in navigating this shift in practice.

This brief is part of McREL’s Expert Teaching series, which outlines shifts in practices and perspectives that teachers can make to advance student learning success.

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McREL is a non-profit, non-partisan education research and development organization that since 1966 has turned knowledge about what works in education into practical, effective guidance and training for teachers and education leaders across the U.S. and around the world.