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The Notion Coach

How Notion Can Transform Teaching

by Dave de Cespedes
by Dave de Cespedes

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Traditional Lesson Planning is Broken

I’m wrapping up my 6th year of teaching and one thing’s clear: we need rethink systems of lesson planning.

Using Notion to teach is more than an obsession with a tool; it’s about fundamentally changing how educators create transformational courses. By streamlining the process, there’s higher impact teaching, and more effective learning.

Let’s look at a typical lesson plan, which usually includes:

  1. Essential Question
  2. Standards, Learning
  3. Goals, Assessments
  4. Modeling
  5. Checks for Understanding
  6. Guided Practice
  7. Feedback

It’s hard to make the case against any of these, but our brains don’t plan or design learning in this way. Projects that are collaborative, interdisciplinary, or span different grade-levels quickly break the system, and can be dissuaded as a result, in favor of maintaining the given format.

Relational Databases are a Disruptive Force

There’s a lot of buzz around course creation (or maybe it’s just my Twitter bubble?), but as a teacher, Notion as a tool is not only transformative, it’s disruptive.

The moment you can weave together topics, activities, resources, and learning goals, and ‘remix’ them in new ways, you prevent the stagnation that comes from formulaic lesson planning, even though you’re working in a system. Topics can be mixed, overlapped, or pitted against each other, to create fundamentally new learning experiences.

How do tools like Notion make this possible? By organizing lesson plan properties into databases,

  1. Properties like standards or learning goals can be instantly picked from a list
  2. Mental energy is saved for the non-replicable parts of lessons, whether they’re interactive, conditional, or differentiated by groups or skill levels

Collaboration is Encouraged Through Shared Resources

Perhaps most importantly: What if this work (lesson plans, resources, projects) was accessible other teachers? We move from planning in a bubble – either independently or within a subject – to planning collaboratively. The system than promotes cross-pollination by design.

I’m using the context of K12 education, but much of this directly applies to new or aspiring course creators. The straightforward actions of organizing resources, planning lessons that weave together multiple themes, and build on a public library of lesson materials can literally reshape how we approach teaching.

The Resource Library Notion Template I released is one way teachers can quickly save resources, and tag them with properties that make it easy to find and filter in the future. By doing so collaboratively, teachers instantly get access to exponentially more resources to use, edit, and remix.

The moment we start to naturally share resources, we move from planning in a bubble – either independently or within a subject – to planning collaboratively. The system than promotes cross-pollination by design, reshaping the teaching process.