Saturday, September 20, 2014


The email below concerning lesson plans was sent to us from the Chancellor and UFT President.

It attempts to clarify issues concerning lesson plans after an arbitrator ruled in May that the elements of a lesson plan cannot usually be dictated by supervisors.  On the issue of collection of lesson plans by supervisors, the arbitrator allowed supervisors to collect lesson plans but not in a mechanical and ritualized way.  Here is the language from Arbitrator Deborah Gaines:

"The Department, however, cannot institute policies to serve as a smokescreen for the mechanical, ritualized collection of lesson plans or other type of impermissible activity under Article 8E or Special Circular 28."

If a principal mandates something like a review everyone's lesson plans for the week, that would seem to me to be a mechanical, ritualized collection.

This is a link to the entire ruling.

For those who don't want to read through the whole opinion, what follows is the arbitrator's official award.
1-The grievance is, as it relates to the issue of collection is arbitrable.
2-The Department violated Article 8E and 20 (Special Circular 28) by allowing principals to mandate the specific elements of lesson plans.
3-The Department shall cease and desist from allowing principals to issue such mandates to teachers who have not received U ratings or official warnings.
4-The Department did not violate Article 8E and/or Article 20 of the parties' Agreement by allowing lessons to be collected for reasons other than formal or informal observations.
5-The undersigned shall retain jurisdiction for purposes of implementation of this award for four months from the date of its execution.
May 16, 2014
Deborah M. Gaines

The email from Chancellor Carmen Farina and UFT President Michael Mulgrew was sent on Friday, September 19, 2014:

Dear James,

The Department of Education and the United Federation of Teachers recognize that lesson plans are a professional responsibility.

Everything about our evaluation and development system is based upon the understanding that a constructive, professional process is the best way for colleagues to collaborate to help children learn.

We all know that effective teaching requires authentic and thoughtful planning.  The development of lesson plans by and for the use of the teacher is a professional responsibility.  A teacher’s lesson plan is not the lesson itself. A lesson unfolds in the classroom as a teacher works with his or her students.

Planning may be evaluated through observation of a lesson being taught, by the professional discussions that take place between teacher and supervisor and, of course, through discussion and review of the plan used to teach an observed lesson. The lesson plan cannot be evaluated in isolation but as a part of the planning cycle of the observed lesson.

Lesson plans are but one part of the process of creating and delivering quality instruction that engenders learning. How well students learn is what is most important.

Although a supervisor may suggest elements to include in a lesson, lesson plans are by and for the use of the teacher. Their format and organization, including which elements are to be included, and whether to write the plans on paper or digitally are appropriately left to the discretion of the teacher. 

If the teacher was Ineffective, the supervisor and teacher will collaborate about different strategies.

Lessons should be taught in a manner consistent with the school’s educational philosophy.

Lesson plans are part of the instructional planning process. As has long been the case, supervisors may continue to request and collect lesson plans; however, they may not be collected in a mechanical or routinized manner.

We know this clarification will help us work together to provide the best education for our students.

We will continue to work toward our shared goal of making New York City’s public schools the best in the country.


UFT President Michael Mulgrew and Schools Chancellor Carmen Fariña


Anonymous said...

So if the lesson plan is FOR THE TEACHERS USE, then if I write out a brief outline in my plan book, this should be acceptable right??
After all, as an experienced instructor, that is all I need FOR MYSELF.. All the little details I have stored in my head.
Then why does my principal threaten to rate me as "ineffective" if this is all I do?

Anonymous said...

Because we have a terrible union who will not support us

Anonymous said...

What about unit plans? Do unit plans fall under the same rules? Our district Rep has issued a unit plan template supposedly agreed upon by the DOE and UFT....are we expected to use this and have it available?

Anonymous said...

Anonymous 10:37- I agree with you because I rarely refer to my lesson plans when I'm teaching. Having said that, we are still evaluated under parts of Danielson's domain 1, "planning and preparation" and that's where they get you if you don't have a comprehensive lesson plan.

Anonymous said...

From what I hear there are many teachers in the system who allow administrators to dictate the lesson plan format. Most teachers are afraid to speak up or are apathetic. I am glad this email was sent out to the members so that they become more aware of their rights. Not that the union will help them if there is a teacher who challenges an abusive administrator on this.

Anonymous said...

Lets face it- The "comprehensive " lesson plan is for the ADMINISTRATOR., so when they step into your room , they can understand whats happening.
But this is NOT who the plan SHOULD be for. IT SHOULD BE FOR THE TEACHERS USE.

What ever happened to giving you a curriculum and then trusting that you as a PROFESSIONAL will teach it thoroughly?

Enough with this Danielson bullshit, already.

Anonymous said...

When I had a good AP, he would take a picture of the board since the previous dictator principal made us do workshop model. Rarely ever did they ask for lesson plans, except the last ap who would do it to needle people.

Just because the DOE says this btw, doesn't mean principals are going to listen.

Anonymous said...

Mulgrew might punch you in the face if you try to take it from him.