Rethinking a Common Practice: Lesson Objectives on the Board


Over the past several years, many principals have established the expectation that teachers place the daily objective on the board before beginning the lesson. The thought is that this step signals to the learners the purpose of their work and helps everyone know what to expect. It also allows administrators and supervisors to quickly know the point of the lesson if they stop in for a walk through or formal observation.

However, this seemingly obvious and harmless practice also has some significant downsides.

  • It conveys the message that everyone in the class will be learning the same thing in generally the same way, regardless of whether they are ready to learn it or already know it.
  • The practice sends an inescapable message that the teacher is driving the learning, not the learners.
  • Having the objective on the board can discourage pursuing other timely, compelling topics that would generate even more important learning.
  • Any curiosity and surprise that might be embedded in and result from the lesson has been dispelled from the beginning.
  • Placing the objective on the board risks sending the message that the collective learning objective is more important than individual learning goals, even though we know that all learning is personal and autonomous. Learning can be social but it is not a collective act.

Maybe it is time to rethink this common, but perhaps less than useful practice.

Learn more tips at NorthStar for Principals.


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