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Planning and the ridiculous expectations.

Discussion in 'Primary' started by impulce, Jan 23, 2011.

  1. Im feeling rather frazzled by my planning at the moment, and its striking me how much is being piled onto the expectations of planning, and at some point something has got to give.
    Every so often we are told to include something else new in our planning, but never told to exclude anything.
    So as well as planning what im going to teach, how im going to teach it, and what the children are going to do to apply their knowledge - we are expected to highlight two occasions a week when we will be working with the higher ability specifically to extend a skill (to tick the G&T box), note on our Mental Oral planning section what kind of mental oral it is (problem solving, recall, recap, etc), (To show we are using a variety of skills there), include one example of visualisation a week, make sure talk partners are used twice a week (Develop communicating skills), ensure reasoning opportunities are explicitly planned for, and other things that ive actually completely forgotten about amongst everything else.
    I do not work in a particularly demanding school when it comes to planning, compared to some others, but it does strike me how ridiculous the planning process is in terms of box ticking. If they want us to focus on something in particular (such as developing childrens reasoning skills) that is fine, but something else has got to give. I am trying to cram so many things into my planning just incase anyone asks to look at it and then asks why im not doing X Y and Z that we were asked to do at a staff meeting so many weeks ago.
    The biggest problem is that we put so much effort into this ridiculous process, and my teaching is still exactly the same as it would be had I made notes on a f*cking napkin. I teach how is best for my children, adapt what im doing half way through to suit them, and do things impulsively as I think of them. I also rarely have the time to do everything on my daily plan because one hour (usually less if assembly etc runs over) is simply not enough time to do everything we are now expected to plan in, alongside daily classroom happenings (tidying up, solving conflicts between children, cleaning up sick etc etc)

    ARRRGGHHHHH. I am just feeling frazzled by it all today. I love the daily job, I hate the fact that we are not trusted to do it without reams and reams of ridiculous planning.

    Rant over.
  2. I hear ya!
    Thankfully at the moment our planning isn't under such scrutiny/demands but I can totally empaphise with this feeling of having to be accountable for absolutely everything and can never be trusted to just teach and teach well.
  3. Its not even that my SMT are scrutinising, generally our planning is left unseen and gathered on the odd occasion with friendly feedback given on a sheet in our pigeonhole.
    We just seem to fall into that trap of feeling we always have to be adding something new in order to be "developing planning, teaching and learning" and it makes no sense to me. I dont see any harm in falling into a nice planning routine that works, and leaving it as so. It doesnt need changing and adapting every other week to keep it 'fresh'!
    If we are allowed to plan in a way that is comfortable, free to our own interpretations and in a format that suits the teacher - teaching would be BETTER because we would have more time to focus on the actual act of teacing. Most teachers in the country probably realise this - why dont headteachers?
  4. anon2799

    anon2799 New commenter

    Mr CGs head says if it's not on the plan she doesn't believe it's happening.
    I have suggested that he writes breathe in, breathe out and fart at key points in the lesson. Wonder if she'd notice?
  5. LOL CG.
    I would actually rather just be observed more often (to prove to a head that the teaching is doing everything it should be), and be allowed to plan in my own way.
  6. anon2799

    anon2799 New commenter

    If you're monitoring progress, popping in and out of classes regularly, teaching classes and have half a brain, you don't need it all writing down to know it's happening.
  7. Msz

    Msz Established commenter

    Thank goodness for my very sensible head.
  8. minnieminx

    minnieminx New commenter

    OK this is my, not always perfect, way to keep a good worklife balance.

    For everything you are told to do, ask yourself:
    Will anyone check that I've done it?
    Will it benefit the children?
    If the answer to both is no, then don't bother about it. If they do decide to check (like your once in a while nosy at planning) they will almost certainly give you notice and you can do it 'properly' for that occasion. the rest of the time do just what you know you need to do to function properly and be a fabulous teacher.

    Works, almost always, for me!
  9. NQT1986

    NQT1986 Occasional commenter

    In our school-the answer would be 'yes'! They are v keen on knowing exactly what is on your planning sheet and whether it has been highlighted in the right colour. They are probably more bothered about that being right than the actual teaching/learning happening in the classroom!
  10. Could you ask for a list of what they expect to see on your planning? I think that's what I'd ask for.
  11. minnieminx

    minnieminx New commenter

    In that case I would do it...need to get brownie points. But in the OPs case I wouldn't as no -one checks theirs.
  12. The reasons so many schools do this is that they have identified poor or non-existent lesson planning and introduce a form for all staff (even outstanding teachers) to ensure that basic planning takes place. The problem is that they have replaced one problem (poor planning) with another - teachers are so busy filling in forms that no-one will read that they don't have time to plan the resources (stimuli, scaffolds, etc) that will enhance the learning experience of the students. There is a real danger that paperwork exercises replace real lesson planning and as a result poor lessons become 'satisfactory', and outstanding ones become 'good'. This happens particularly where the planning document insists that teachers follow a 3, 4 or 5-part lesson structure which works for some but is a nonsense in many classrooms where students are working on on-going assignments; a starter every lesson in Art, D&T, ICT? It doesn't work and reduces professionals to 'teaching by numbers'. Teaching in a straitjacket often produces mediocrity.
    Is Ofsted to blame? No. I led a workshop on teaching and learning at Ther SFCF Sixth Form Colleges national conference in 2009. Melanie Kavanagh (then from Ofsted) made a wonderful point in her keynote to the conference delegates . "Why," she asked Principals, "do you ask your teachers to fill in these detailed lesson plans? My Ofsted teams will not look at them and I am surprised that your staff have the energy to teach after so much paperwork."
    Enough said.
  13. This is exactly the reason why teachers suffer from stress and burn out.
    It's the reason why after 33yrs teaching I decided to take early retirement.
    My exact words to the head were "I think you'd better find a kid (NQT) who knows no different and is prepared to jump through the hoops because I've had enough of all this stupidity."
    Since retirement my vast experience is benefitting children in several schools where I do one to one tutoring.
    When I first entered teaching, planning was a personal thing and all we were required to do was hand in a record book stating what we had covered at the end of each week. I didn't see a HMI for twenty years and the only pressure put on us was the pressure we put on ourselves.
    The emphasis was on preparation rather than planning and we were not subjected to political interference every five minutes.
    Happy Days!!!!!!!
  14. Billysiv that is exactly it - preperation rather than planning.
    I know what makes a good lesson, I will automatically use talk partners, discussion, varied questioning, differentiation, active learning, provide scaffolding and support, relate back to the learning objective, stretch my more able, support my less able, etc etc. I DO NOT need to write what I am going to do for each of these things for every bloody lesson. It is in my head, and engrained into the way I teach. I am not saying I am a great teacher - sometimes I forget things - but I also dont spend the entire lesson looking at my planning so regardless of whether or not its written down it makes no difference to the lesson I deliver!
    Actually, can I confess, I look at my planning no more than once a day.
  15. "The reasons so many schools do this is that they have identified poor or non-existent lesson planning"
    I disagree, the reason is that no one has the balls to be different any more.
    I could point out more schools where the planning is absolutely superb with all eventualities and ability ranges covered but the teaching and more importantly the learning is mediocre, than I could where the planning is poor or non existant.
    However I agree that Ofsted is not to blame, the blame rests squarely on dictatorial head teachers and ignorant LA advisors.
    Preparation is the key not pointless planning. Planning could easily be in your head.
    But of course the required EVIDENCE would be missing.
    When you are told that Art lessons must be differentiated for three ability levels it's time to call it a day.
  16. I run a pre-school (F1). We had Ofsted (last week) and were judged Outstanding in all areas. The planning requirements could be interpreted as equally ridiculous - after all we are supposed to provide planning in all six areas of learning for each individual child, indoors and out...
    My weekly plan is less than a sheet of A4, my med-term plan is a two sheets of A4. We have a weekly meeting for half an hour where we cover one more single sheet of A4 with reflections on that week's activities and observations about individual children. Each child has a file of work and notes of observations and a simple assessment grid (assessments are made by the key worker and do NOT have to be evidenced in any way).
    The thing that frustrates me about SMTs is the lack of streamlining - teachers are expected to produce reams of evidence and paperwork when, I would hope, all anyone wants to see is evidence of it actually happening in the classroom. Planning is for the teacher, not the management, and if you can show it works for you that should be all that is needed.
  17. I don't always look that often! I have a diary with rough notes in - which may say as little as "equivalent fractions" and my smartboard file "talks" me through the rest....
  18. QFE

    QFE New commenter

    Excellent post, Robert.
    At the start of my teaching career, I would spend most evenings designing, making collecting resources for lessons. At the close of my career, most evenings and weekends would be spent planning what I was going to do, leaving little time to actually prepare for it.
    One of the worst teachers I ever worked with (a lovely lady though) was drowning under the weight of her self-imposed planning.
    'Teaching in a straitjacket often produces mediocrity.' Seen this first hand. Otherwise potentially excellent teachers paralysed by the need to have every second of the lesson accounted for.
    I think the need for excessive paperwork/planning stems from the fact that education is in reality unmeasurable and difficult to quantify. The imposition of <u>excessive</u> paperwork provides a tangible and measurable indicator of effort that, I would argue, is detrimental to improving standards of teaching and learning. But the politicians and public would find that hard to understand.
    The reality of teaching today is that it is two jobs, not one.
  19. We have to put so much stuff on our plans I have decided that I am leaving this school and possibly the profession altogether.
    <u>Maths Planning</u>
    We have to select the objectives from the Primary Framework, then include the relevant APP statements for 3 levels. so if you are in Year 5 you would have to select Levels 3, 4 and 5 and copy and paste this in from the documents on the DFES site, which unfortunately are in PDF format and never copy as a sentence (there are always returns where you don't want them so you have to sort that out). You also have to indicate whether it is Ma1, Ma2, Ma3 or Ma4 against each level statement.
    You then have to write the relevant pupil 'I can statements' for each of these levels
    You then have to include what pupils 'must know already' again, at the three different levels.
    This information has to be on every DAILY plan, it isn't good enough to have as a weekly cover sheet, and yes, whilst it only means copying and pasting it is still another task
    Only then can you begin to plan your activity which has to be 'original' so if you already have an IWB activity you then have to create an original worksheet, or if you have a textbook activity you then have to create an 'original' IWB file.
    <u>Literacy planning</u>
    As above, except our pupils MUST produce a piece of writing every single day. And that means writing, not sentence level work or word level work.
    <u>Foundation subjects planning</u>
    You have to create a weekly planning overview sheeet which means copying and pasting the relevant skills you are going to teach that week from a planning sheet already tells you what your focus is. You then need to pull out the relevant Literacy and maths APP levels (again for the three levels to cover your class) and include those on this weekly overview.
    Once you have done this weekly overview sheet you then need to plan on another 'weekly' sheet where you have to copy the skills AGAIN, write your objective, what they already need to know, then your activity
    Our planning is ridiculous!!! We get scrutinised regularly and the DHT and HT will often 'scrutinise' you unofficially by going into your classroom when you are not there, looking at it and giving you 'feedback'
    Oh! almost forgot, we have to plan on a sheet so that the planning is vertical and not horizontal, a couple of us tried changing that and we were told in no uncertain terms it had to be done the way we had been told.
    I spend so much time copying and pasting from documents that I do not have time to make resources. I feel my teaching is not as excellent as it could and should be. These changes have only been introduced since September and I should add that we are not an ISP school or in Special Measures, in fact, our last OfSTED graded us as good when we were allowed to plan in whatever way we chose, and use whatever resources we wanted.
    How I am supposed to get children to produce a piece of writing every day without any word level or sentence level work is beyond me, not to mention all the hours of marking it creates - all ideas on a postcard please!
    A very, very desperate, soon to be ex teacher
  20. We now have a Deputy Head who has introduced colour coded sections into EVERY lesson plan so we have to identify the nature of activity according to the master plan, G&T, differentiation activities etc as noted by others below.and we have to explain all of this to the kids who already say its rubbish.
    I talked to a distressed teacher a week ago who said she was teaching no more than half the content and she was worried she would not get the progress. Another separate teacher said the same a day later. One teacher lives, sleeps and breathes preparation and she admitted she collapses before 9pm every night, sleeps badly and admits she is obsessed. A colleague is genuinely worried about her.
    But it doesn't matter, does it? Under 30 women in teaching - ten a penny. Just replace when they burn out.

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