A new spin on planning

What am I working on now? Planning.

As a teacher of.. crikey… 28 years, you’d have thought I’d have nailed it. The teachers I work with like my planning and think I’ve nailed it. But every time I come back to a plan that I wrote even a year ago, I change it, often quite fundamentally. I’m wasting vast amounts of time writing unnecessary notes that don’t get to grips with learning. I spend a long time researching and collecting ideas and approaches, naming pupil premium and alert children, listing key vocab, resources, hooks, web addresses, iwbs, objectives, quoting from national curriculum or Target Tracker, sen and g&t provision and other peripherals. They are good to think about, but I’ve left out the heart of a good plan. My vague dissatisfaction with planning that has been nagging quietly for years has crystallised after reading “Lean Lesson Planning” by Peps McCrae. A quick read on a filthy Saturday afternoon has set me nodding.

So, where’s the difference between what I’m doing and what is recommended?

1. Well, one of the bits I’ve only just started to do is to think much more overtly about the hard parts of each lesson: why it’s hard, how I can help children to avoid mistakes and the progressive steps to help get them to success. I have thought about it before to make lessons work, but it has not been overtly stated and recorded. That means I can record where I was wrong in my expectation and what the trigger was for the children to reach their a-ha moment. This is the part of the plan that is likely to stay the same, even if the activities change. It’s all about engaging directly with the concepts. I like this idea a lot, especially for the sciences. I’m going to try out this approach in all subjects I teach to find out whether it is universally applicable and how it changes the rest of the plan/ lesson.

2. I’ve been reading “Make Every Lesson Count” by Allison and Tarbuck, and they introduced me to the idea of hinge questions. Peps McCrae also suggests adding a broader title “good questions” to plans which I like for intentional in lesson assessment purposes. I have relied on responding to what the children have said to lead the questions (which will obviously still happen) but some questions matter more than others & those are the questions I want to record. So my second strand of enquiry will be what kinds of question are most helpful. For now, it’s an open enquiry. I’ll start now & make it more directed as I feel my way in.

I’ll write an update again soon.