If you are familiar with the television show “Friends,” (Rest in peace, Matthew Perry) you may remember the “Pivot!” couch scene. I’m often reminded of that moment when creating lesson plans because throughout the process, I have to remind myself to “pivot, pivot, PIVOT!” 

The process of writing and creating lesson plans is far from linear. It’s a dynamic and iterative journey that demands a growth mindset and the willingness to adapt. As one delves into the intricacies of the subject matter and considers the diverse needs of students and teachers, one may realize that the initial idea doesn’t work. Instead of rigidly sticking to the original plan, one must be open to change. This is where a growth mindset becomes crucial. 

I recently had the opportunity to create a lesson for the Retro Report video Healing the Ozone: First Steps Toward Success. This process became a great learning experience for my students as I was able to share with them what writing in the real world might look like, and how nonlinear this work can be. I shared parts of my unedited lesson plan with my learners, and allowed them to see those same sections after Retro Report’s Education Manager provided feedback and suggestions. 

My middle school students were shocked that my writing wasn’t perfect on the first draft, and even more surprised that I wasn’t upset about having to make changes to my original work, but instead welcomed the critical eye that Retro Report’s Education Team provided. We discussed the different connotations of the word “critical” and I was able to engage them in discussions about the importance of editing and revision in the writing process. 

Ultimately my students were able to see how my thinking had to pivot. They helped me brainstorm ways to incorporate some of my original ideas and thinking into the new lesson. They watched as I drafted a second lesson plan, and we discussed how and why I made the writing choices I did. As I received additional feedback, we discussed why suggestions were made and how these suggestions improved my writing. 

This process led to some of the best discussions that I have had with students about writing. It was incredibly rewarding to see how these discussions influenced students’ editing and revision process. Although my original lesson plan for Retro Report didn’t pan out and I had no intention of sharing my process with my students, these pivots led to improved learning for my students.

KIM YATES is an instructor at Pineville Independent Schools in Pineville, Ky, where she teaches E.L.A., Mass Media, dual credit writing and literature courses. She is a member of Retro Report’s Council of Educators.

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