I was teaching another math lesson – being a substitute of sorts for the day. Simple enough, just do what’s in the book. It’ll make things easier.
Lesson books are dry – even when they have voice (still trying to figure that out, perhaps another topic). Somehow I have to say the words that the book says and the kids will (magically) say what the book says they will respond. There also be several moments to tell them to be quiet, and not very much time for them try and formulate what you’re trying to say. I don’t have a problem with direct instruction – and I’m not more experienced as a teacher than the writers of lesson books or curriculum, but I have instinct, and I have some training.
Instinct took over. The lesson seemed to go better. Just start teaching! (I thought) We started exploring several things at once, after all, this was the culminating topic of the unit. And we were on a roll. Then time nearly ran out, and we hit a snag. I wasn’t able to explore the final part – perhaps the most integral part of the topic. Everything else was going smoothly. I had flow and the students were responding. Everyone was talking, thinking, and learning. But I ran out of time.
I didn’t follow the sequence. I didn’t do the steps. I didn’t follow the timeline. Response here and response there. But they learned something. But I missed something. I didn’t prepare for this lesson, and thus didn’t see (or didn’t know) what would be the most challenging part – at the end.
Is it time to follow the book? Is it time to plan? Stepping in for the moment in someone else’s classroom, there might not be a choice. But there might still be room to make it my own.