On a personal level, I think that, over time, I have become more organised, in order that I can then deal with the inevitable changes to plan that life offers. In order to ensure some element of home-life balance, as a teacher, I sought to ensure that marking was done at school before leaving, so that, if anything needed doing in the evening, or at weekends, it would be an aspect of planning. There were inevitable compromises, as meetings or training events impacted. There had to be some element of flexibility built in. As life impacted, too, when I was a headteacher, I needed work to be as organised as it could be, to enable quality time at home.
I have begun to wonder if technology, while making some elements of life easier over time, have actually made some elements of teacher life harder. An example of this would be planning.
Whereas, as a classroom teacher, my planning was handwritten in a hard back notebook, for me, as an aide memoire, today teachers can be asked to fill in an electronic proforma, with boxes designed to inform someone in a management role that certain aspects have been considered and often written in considerable detail. I would concentrate on the bigger picture, of the essential knowledge to be shared and particular needs of children to be considered, whereas now, I often see plans as scripts, developed from an earlier medium term plan. It is possible to think that teachers are being asked to over-plan.
The only way to take charge of this is to operate within different levels of interlocking organisation, starting at school level.
The curriculum was clearly developed within a planning structure that I have blogged about, with different timescales developed that enabled quality time for thinking.
In essence, the whole was based on
Every topic being developed as a “specification” that detailed the essential knowledge that underpinned the learning as well as the anticipated range of outcomes across a mixed ability class, based on capabilities developed from “level descriptors”.
Topics lasted as long as needed, not allowed to expand to fill a half term/term. There was flexibility to link topics where a teacher saw creative benefits. This allowed for subtly different interpretations each year.
An annual plan for each year group (see above), covering all subjects in outline, was developed on a July closure, before the new academic year, ensuring a positive start in September.
First two weeks in September given to a teacher topic to get to know the children well.
The second Friday of the September term given to admin for the year and time to develop a detailed overview of the remainder of the half terms’ plans, based on good understanding of children’s needs. A copy came to me.
Teacher short term and daily plans were personal, in any form that supported their teaching.
Teachers met with parents in week 3 or 4 in September to share the year plan and to share ways in which they might help their children during the year.
The school overall plans ensured that high demand times for teachers, such as report writing, February and June/July, were not subject to high demand training or meeting schedules.
Knowing that specific information is required at specific times allowed teachers to organise their own diaries to ensure that this was done, in so doing reducing the need to chase staff and add to pressure.
Knowing ahead of time that certain topics would be covered enabled library book exchange to ensure that there was sufficient stock available to support research, that high demand on some equipment could be managed and that necessary stock items could be ordered in time.
Good structural organisation also enabled quality thinking time to be planned and funded, so that development time could be focused and more effective, both in creation and dissemination of projects. Occasional slippage, caused by staff absence, or an unexpected eventuality, as can easily occur in school, could be managed more easily.
Reading. Using a well ordered colour coded reading system allowed staff to enable children to have free access to books for changing, maintaining interest and motivation. With guided reading books at teaching/challenge level, home books were at a colour below, so a greater fluency level meant children could read them for themselves.
Writing. Order and organisation was developed in the approach to writing, with books developed as personal organisers. This allowed teachers to interact with individuals with a known agenda for development. It supported dialogue and written feedback, so marking became more focused to need, so had greater impact.
The whole enabled a clarity of narrative at child, parent, teacher and school level, ensuring that everyone had as clear an idea of direction of travel as we could hope to achieve.
Additional linked blogs
Director of education or scriptwriter?
Get them reading!
Reading is a personal thing
Reading; between sessions
Fifty(ish) reading ideas
Reading; once upon a time...
Note making, not note taking...
National writing project; revival time?
All writing in one exercise book?
Writing process; tweak your books
Exercise books as personal organisers?