Teaching in the 21st century is a complex, unpredictable task (Kereluik et al., 2013; McDonald, 1992). Rapidly shifting political, economic, and cultural pressures force teachers to continuously adapt while simultaneously responding to students’ changing individual needs (Parsons et al., 2018). This requires thousands of decisions per day, with teachers selecting from more than 205 trillion instructional combinations to meet diverse learners’ needs (Jackson, 1990; Koedinger et al., 2013). No wonder decision-fatigued educators anxiously seek research-based “best practices” and “effective teaching” techniques to simplify their work!
In Lesson Planning with Purpose: Five Approaches to Curriculum Design, McConnell, Conrad, and Uhrmacher encourage teachers to embrace this instructional complexity by expanding their curricular repertoire rather than narrowing it to a single effective approach (p. 13). The authors assert that because “teaching is never a neutral act,” lesson plans have tangible political, social, and emotional consequences (p. 8). Thus, selecting curricular approaches to achieve a lesson’s instructional aims requires adequate information and entails professional perception and artistic sensitivity.
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