KNOW THE DIFFERENCE
With the implementation of T-TESS, it is important to know the difference in the components of instruction. Many times educators are expected to write lesson plans that explain in detail the planning process and every aspect of the lesson cycle resulting in ten to sometimes twenty-page lesson plans. It is important that appraisers are looking at the whole picture and not using just the lesson plans to evaluate effective instruction. As you read through the remainder of this document, please keep the following in mind:
- PLANNING is the detailed process where you will spend the most time looking at student data, creating engaging lessons based on student need, locating resources, and aligning instruction to state standards.
- LESSON PLANS are the product created from the planning process that should be a general guide to instruction, not a script.
- LESSON CYCLE is the delivery where all of your planning comes to life and the appraiser will see the differentiation, higher-level thinking, formal and informal assessment, flexible grouping, and engagement strategies.
State law is clear about what the process of planning instruction looks like and includes. Expectations for educators are spelled out in the State Educator Standards (link below). You are expected to plan and deliver instruction that is “standards-based, data-driven, differentiated instruction that engages students, makes appropriate use of technology, and makes learning relevant for today’s learners.”
In 3 recent decisions, much-needed clarification is provided in the definition of a lesson plan and the requirements of a lesson plan.
- Ysleta Indep. Sch. Dist. and Commisioner of Education v. Edith Porter, Jennifer Adams, and Rita Vasquez, Court of Appeals – Thirteenth District of Texas, DOCKET NO. 13-13-00409-CV
- Baxter v. Sherman Indep. Sch. Dist., 2015 TX Educ. Agency, DOCKET NO. 092-R10-0612
- Linda Soto v. Edinburg Consolidated Indep. Sch. Dist., TX Educ. Agency, DOCKET NO. 062-R10-08-2018
The appellate court concluded, “Lesson plans are an outline, which is brief and general, of the information that a teacher plans to teach during a particular class period and the activities the students will do in order to learn the subject matter.” Ysleta Independent School District and Commissioner of Education v. Edith Porter, Jennifer Adams, and Rita Vasquez
The district may only require that a teacher write “a unit or weekly lesson plan that outlines, in a brief and general manner, the information to be presented during each period at the secondary level or in each subject or topic at the elementary level.” Texas Education Code 11.164(a) (6)
Lesson Plan Requirements:
1. TEKS Objectives
Districts can require teachers to include an outline of the TEKS objectives in the lesson plan.
2. TAKS (STAAR) Objectives
Districts can require TAKS (STAAR) objectives in the lesson plan.
3. Resources and Activities
Districts can require resources and activities in the lesson plan. This can include a brief and general explanation of activities for whole group and small group instruction.
Districts can require assessments to be in lesson plans because it is a part of the “plan” for the lesson that the students will actually learn and there must be some way to determine whether that has been accomplished.
5. Differentiated Activities/Modifications for Special Populations
Districts can require differentiation for the different segments of the student population, because a teacher must tailor instruction to reach every student in the classroom.
6. Cognitive Level
Districts cannot require cognitive level to be in the lesson plan because it is not information taught to the student.
Remember documentation of modifications or accommodations provided for special populations is necessary to show compliance, but does not need to be in your lesson plan. How you choose to document this information is your choice. Including differentiation in the lesson plan is one way to meet this expectation.