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Deviating from lesson plan

Discussion in 'Workplace dilemmas' started by QT1, Dec 5, 2019.

  1. QT1

    QT1 New commenter

    Hi everyone, I wondered if I could get some insight. I’m an NQT at the moment and have just received my first term report which I’m happy with, however on my last lesson obs there was something that didn’t quite sit right. My observer noted that I had deviated from my planning in the lesson as the children weren’t understanding the concept (double and double again to x4). This was noted as a negative more than a positive which I have always been told it would be - in the sense you look better in an obs for changing tactics when something isn’t working rather than ploughing through because ‘that’s the plan’. Am I mistaken? Just to clarify - the lesson was graded good and I was happy with the other feedback, this just made me wonder if I’ve got the wrong idea in this respect.
  2. HolyMahogany

    HolyMahogany Senior commenter

    The most important part of a plan is what you want the pupils to learn. I would even say that is the only part that really matters. You tried one way of achieving this, it wasn't working so you adapted to a method that worked better. If you achieved or exceeded your objective then you taught a good lesson. Well done.
    Your observer needs to explain their reasons for stating that your changes to the plan were a negative and this should be clear in the feedback.
    Sadly we hear a lot about teaching becoming a tick box exercise with no room for innovation or independent thought or action. If teaching is what you want to do then get used to this because, I am sorry to say, it is only going to get worse.
    josepea, strawbs, phlogiston and 6 others like this.
  3. Jamvic

    Jamvic Star commenter

    Maybe your observer didn’t really comprehend why you had decided to deviate from the plan. However, a good observer would have asked you about this after the lesson and before writing up any feedback. I’ve often been observed by people who had no clue whatsoever about my subject and could therefore only ever judge me on whether I was doing what the lesson plan they were looking at outlined. One of the flaws of non-specialists observing lessons. Sounds like you made the right call to further actual learning and that’s the only thing that really counts in the end.
    josepea, phlogiston, ajrowing and 5 others like this.
  4. Corvuscorax

    Corvuscorax Star commenter

    I don't understand this question. You work in a school right? and you must have been in schools for more than a year?

    And you are expecting some sort of consistency of approach, or policy? Across a YEAR? In at least 2 different schools?

    That's never going to happen across a term in most schools, or even a week in many.

    welcome to the next 50 years of your life

    And anyway, don't you know its against the law to tell a teacher that they are good enough at anything?

    It is compulsory to find something to pick holes in, even if the fault is entirely imaginary.

    And the correct response can only ever be "thank you so much for deigning to spend your priceless time coming into my lesson to give me a holy list of sins I must repent of"

    I'd have thought you would have known all this by now,

    If you have time for a hobby, you can save up all the EBIs you ever get, and match them up in opposing pairs.

    Triple score for getting opposing EBIs from 2 different observers in the same lesson at the same time, although that only normally happens if they don't confer first. But not always!
    Jamvic, phlogiston, ajrowing and 9 others like this.
  5. drvs

    drvs Star commenter

    Of course you should address learning gaps and misconceptions rather than plough brainlessly on to deliver the objective on the plan. That's one of the key differences between "teaching" and "delivering lessons".

    I've worked with some rubbish teachers who are great at delivering outstanding lessons. Often, they become the leaders whose false judgements and flawed ideals are shaping the agenda for to workforce - this has been going on for over a decade now and many of these linear thinkers are now headteachers: education is in big trouble.
    tenpast7, Jamvic, phlogiston and 8 others like this.
  6. meggyd

    meggyd Lead commenter

    You have learned what experienced teachers do. On ordinary days teach what is needed. When being observed do what they want you to do ...that is if you can work out what that is.
    tenpast7, Jamvic, GirlGremlin and 6 others like this.
  7. sbkrobson

    sbkrobson Star commenter

    You need to respond.
    Stop just wondering and respond.
    And ask for your response to be put on file with the observer's notes.
    Say what you have said here, and quote some recent training too, because your informed view point will never be enough even though it is you who knows the class and therefore can teach them best.
    What bothers me most in your opening post is not what happened, but the fact that "this just made me wonder".
    This lack of self conviction in the face of numpty judgement needs to be nipped in the bud.
    Always respond.
    Always point out what you know and what they don't.
    And why.

    They keep a dossier on you, you need to put your stamp on it whenever you can.
    JohnJCazorla likes this.
  8. QT1

    QT1 New commenter

    Seems I’ve been naive. I thought maybe I’d been given the wrong impression. I did actually say in the feedback that “I think if I had have continued with that lesson and ignored the gaps that surfaced you’d have been questioning my judgement” but didn’t get much of a response. This is good to be aware of in the future. Thank you
  9. peakster

    peakster Star commenter

    A previous school decided to go down the road of very prescriptive lesson plans that HAD to be delivered exactly as they were. One young teacher didn't in one of his observations and he was eased out of the school.

    Personally I couldn't teach like that.
  10. sunshineneeded

    sunshineneeded Star commenter

    You absolutely did the right thing - the learning question is the most important factor in any lesson. If the children are not getting it (and this happens to all of us!) then you think on your feet and look for another way to present it. That's what we all do, every day.
    Chalk this one up to experience and move on - but note it for you next observation and, as it's what they seem to want, stick to your plan.
    Jamvic, agathamorse and Piranha like this.
  11. mothorchid

    mothorchid Star commenter

    For what it's worth, I'd have commended you for adjusting the plan too. Over the years, I have worked with a great many trainees and NQTs, and this sort of flexibility is a difficult thing to develop, but an essential skill for teaching.
    So I'd agree with posters who say that you could write a response, querying the comment and asking for an explanation. Ask for the written response to be placed with the Obs feedback.
    It won't be the last time you find feedback totally bewildering.;)
    strawbs, Jamvic, agathamorse and 4 others like this.
  12. Piscean1

    Piscean1 Senior commenter

    I have a feeling I know which Maths scheme you're using and the plans are fairly prescriptive? If so, I also found my class last year struggled in that lesson and I had to change it.

    I think you do need to challenge it politely. I've had feedback completely changed on the basis of explaining my rationale.

    This is the bit that seems to now be missing from observations. The discussion! I honestly think a discussion around your pedagogical decisions is so much more valuable to professional development than just a judgement-based observation.

    Of course, my favourite piece of feedback starts with, "I would have done it this way..." with absolutely no justification as to why they'd have done it differently and zero recognition of the fact that both ways are capable of achieving the same outcome.
    Jamvic, agathamorse and ajrowing like this.
  13. englishtt06

    englishtt06 Occasional commenter

    Ah yes..... this ol' chestnut.
    In my PGCE and NQT (quite a few years ago now) I remember feedback saying, 'You should have adapted [go off plan]' and then for the next obs, 'Why didn't you stick to the plan?'
    Dammed if you do; dammed if you don't.
    And, of course, when you're not being observed you adapt and go off plan as you need to for the students: because, y'know, that's what professionals should do.
    Welcome to UK state sector teaching.
    As Covruscovax says: get used to it.
    tenpast7, Jamvic, agathamorse and 2 others like this.
  14. Piranha

    Piranha Star commenter

    Really sad. If the lesson is to be assessed (and I don't think observations should be grades) it should revolve around the outcome, not the plan. An experienced teacher will change their plan at the drop of a hat, and I would certainly praise an NQT for doing what you did. Whether the plan was too ambitious might be a reasonable point for discussion, although sometimes one class will get something quickly and another of similar ability need extra help.

    Whatever else you do, don't stop going off your plan if you judge it to be the right thing to do.
    strawbs, Jamvic, agathamorse and 2 others like this.
  15. Shedman

    Shedman Star commenter

    What HolyMahogany says in post #2. If observers spent more time assessing what the students were learning and less time seeing if you were sticking to the lesson plan then you wouldn't be subject to these ill-informed comments. I have always argued that in a lesson observations the observer should be watching the students and not the teacher. My analogy is (apologies to those who've read this before) that judging a lesson by observing the teacher is like judging a football match by observing the manager on the side line rather than the players on the field.
    tenpast7, Jamvic, agathamorse and 4 others like this.
  16. frustum

    frustum Star commenter

    I deviated from my plan in an interview lesson once. The starter revealed that the class did not have the prerequisite knowledge for what I'd been asked to teach. The observers hadn't introduced themselves, so I had no idea if they were subject specialists, but I went over to them and explained that I was abandoning the lesson I'd planned and why.
    Jamvic, Piranha, agathamorse and 2 others like this.
  17. sbkrobson

    sbkrobson Star commenter

    O, another bit of advice.

    Keep plans as brief as possible.
    Use highly specialist stand alone key words, devoid of syntax.
    They are then more...deviatable

    Observation Mantra: remember to forget what the kids actually need.
    caress, Jamvic, Piranha and 2 others like this.
  18. ajrowing

    ajrowing Established commenter

    This is my lesson plan

    a) check understanding of last lesson, if understanding is good go to b) if not go back over last lesson in a different way.
    b) teach next bit of the course
    c) set work to reinforce new bit of the course
    d) if time permits check understanding.

    I never deviate!
    Jamvic, Shedman, mothorchid and 5 others like this.
  19. saluki

    saluki Lead commenter

    Don't worry.
    Eventually you will be able to make it up as you go along. You will only abide by lesson plans for observations. You will learn to use easy peasy subject content for observations together with trendy wendy learning activities, such as bouncing off the ceiling. All pupils will have been thoroughly engaged and totally enjoying the lesson. You will learn to have shown progress by the end of the lesson by doing trendy wendy stuff.
    The following week you will reteach the lesson using traditional methods because the students learnt absolutely nothing by doing trendy wendy stuff.
    blazer, Jamvic, Shedman and 4 others like this.
  20. caterpillartobutterfly

    caterpillartobutterfly Star commenter

    You are mistaken to even consider how anything looks in an observation.
    Sod the observation.
    Teaching is what matters. You did what needed to do to ensure learning. What the observer thought is largely irrelevant.

    They may have it as a negative because they think you could have anticipated the misconception and planned differently in advance. Who knows?

    I'm also concerned that your mentor is grading your lessons. Even Ofsted don't do that and NQTs should definitely not get hung up on whether they like the grade or not.
    agathamorse and ajrowing like this.

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