Musings from the Middle Kingdom
Should teachers write a lesson plan for every lesson?
I had a buzzing session discussing lesson planning with some colleagues of mine which led me to think about the whole process of planning and how much I take it for granted at times.
I have some very strong schemes of work / medium term plans which are based on a lesson by lesson format with differentiation/homework and so on but when it comes to day to day lesson planning it is more organic
Below is planning process that I (and others) generally follow
We discussed the need of a formal way of writing lessons and a lot of colleagues were under the impression that this takes time away from other more important bits like thinking and marking. But equally can we rely on our memory all the time, writing something down often grounds our thinking. We can think about the questioning needed, grouping, AfL, structure. I am sure we can do that all in our minds as well but if you have 5 out of 6 lessons a day. Would you remember everything as you have thought the night or the weekend before? Most of us often do planning in our down time as far as I gathered.
Now I guess experience plays a part too, I have been teaching for 13 years now and there are certain modules and lessons I can do on the fly without even thinking too much kinda like driving to work and you know the route so well that your brain goes into autopilot. You get to work without remembering much of the journey. That to me is of serious concern as the journey of learning is perhaps sometimes more important than the end result.
Now there are tools like the 5 minute lesson plan, used by thousands, who swear by it but I find that it still takes more than 5 minutes to do one. Again that pesky thinking time there which leads me to think that I personally spend more time thinking about my lessons but have an aversion to writing it down which probably will take 5 minutes after I have thought it through.Wonder why that is?
Below are extracts I wrote for the minutes of the above meeting which shows how a group of teachers have decided to tackle this.
Writing up - why we don't do it?
Takes time away from creating resources/assessment of existing work. Normally used to explain to other people what you are doing rather than yourself. It is personal and since each teacher is unique, they have their own thinking process to follow and own method of planning. Much more effective to plan examples of work targeted to individual students like drawings or a particular skill or research new pedagogy/content.
When do we write them up?
We do formal lesson plans when dealing with new topics where we have to plan each aspect to help us deliver new learning. For formal observations though even OFSTED don't require them anymore. To show new teachers the method of planning was another time when we used written plans.
If time was not a bottleneck, what would a perfect lesson plan look like?
Do we do all of the above?
Not regularly but experience fills in the gap for most of us.
Should we be doing all of the above?
Definitely, we need to have a display about criterion like above in every classroom next to the board to prompt us to think about them rather than having a form which needs to be filled for every lesson.
Action: We will create a checklist to monitor our day to day planning for next half term to see if our current planning methods tackle the above. Share it to decide how to tackle areas that we don’t cover.
I am Sunny Thakral. If you are here on the site then you know a bit about me. If not then I am a teacher and these are my musings.