Scaling Your Lesson Plans

In my last job, I spent a lot of time around venture capitalists.  They often judged our business plan competitions and mentored students.  A frequent question they asked the budding entrepreneurs was be something like, ‘does you plan allow for taking your business to scale?’  In other words, are you constructing a business plan that works only in a bubble or will you be able to expand and grow it?  The merits of ‘bigger is better’ aside, all entrepreneurs want to see their business grow in some regard.  Maybe growth means serving 200 customers a day as opposed to 150 or expanding from just coffee to pastries and coffee, but some form of scaling takes place in every small business.

I feel like this entrepreneurial urge sometimes conflicts with the ultra-serial nature of some entrepreneurs and some teachers.  That spirit pushes us to create, create, create, sometimes at the expense of scaling existing lessons.  I know, for me, that is something I really want to work on.  After all, a good lesson is something that should impact the class not just on that day, but for the rest of the semester … and I do not just mean in coincidental ways, but in planned, measured activities.  Can we take a good lesson and have it affect the entire semester supporting deeper comprehension and fostering critical thought?  I almost would say that, in fact, you cannot achieve deeper comprehension and critical thought without this type of scaled lesson planning.  Looking back on some of my lessons from last year and I definitely missed some great opportunities to ‘scale’ a lesson.  By not considering ‘scaling’ these lessons I effectively kept them in a bubble and my students missed out.

Obviously, this is not something applicable for every lesson.  As I allude to above, I am not espousing something that I am some master at, by any means, but I do strive to reflect this principle.  If I look at my US History curriculum and think of it like a house, most objectives serve as the bricks of the house allowing me to build up, or scale, it into the finest little abode on the street (or so I wish to believe).  Other objectives are like the furniture of the house.  Yes, they are tangential and part of its essence, but the pieces do not necessary build off one another.  In the end, I think we want to make sure that we have a house with furniture as opposed to some furniture with some bricks.

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