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Thorough lesson planning or waste of time?

Discussion in 'Primary' started by NickShady, Mar 16, 2011.

  1. I'm currently in my 2nd year of my BAQTS Primary Ed 3Y course. I have been to five different schools on five different placements of varied time.
    However this is by far the most important of the lot and by far the most successful of the lot so far.
    I am in my third week of five and i'm loving it, i was very nervous before this placement i had only been with KS1 before this and got put in a middle school (year's 6-8) due to the fact my uni has been struggling to find placements. But contrary to my worries the school is amazing, children are amazing and the teachers are some of the most helpful i have come across.
    I don't know whether that is because i am with so many different specialist teachers, as i am not with one class teacher like i would be in a primary school, but they seem to offer a lot more of their time and are happy to let me take full control of their lesson while they sit back and basically perform the role of a TA.
    This is especially confidence boosting as my Maths and English classes are doing their sats in a few weeks.
    Getting to the point, the first week i obviously planned my lessons like essays, everything was in them, full three page plans for each lesson. That is the way it will always be when starting at a school, i share my plans with my in school tutor every friday and by that first Friday i felt comfortable enough to plan my Maths and English which i take the lesson for every day as a week plan rather than individual lesson plans.
    I received no complaints from anyone in school and my teachers were extremely positive of my teaching style and my lessons in general, i listened to their constructive criticism and i think my lessons get better each time. The English class i take is usually taken by the Head teacher and he is full of great constructive criticism and i am so much more confident in teaching the subject after just two weeks with him than i am after hours of boring powerpoint lectures at uni.
    Anyway, my uni tutor came in to officially observe me at the end of the second week and she was extremely positive, possibly some of the best things i have ever had said to me about teaching, it was again extremely confidence boosting even if she was a little over the top, she observed science where i carried out an investigation on the effect of exercise on the pulse rate.
    She asked to look at my file and all was fine, when i got my written report sent to me the only area she said i needed to improve on was lesson planning, that they weren't detailed enough and that i need individual lesson plans for each lesson, using the proforma provided by the uni (i made my own because the uni one ends up in a complete mess when you try moving text boxes around) This means that the non-contact time i get i need to spend planning if i don't want it all to do at home, which i don't i leave at 6am and get in at 5pm, its a long day for me however much you old timers tell me to get used to it ;)
    I would much rather get involved with what the children are up to, such as spending my whole afternoon's non contact time mountain biking with some year 8's rather than planning out stuff i already know and i can tell you for a fact i get a lot more out of it. I do not feel that i carry my lesson plans around in my head, but i do feel that my weekly plans are more than enough to teach high standard lessons to my classes, if i was receiving bad reviews about my lessons i could understand having to do this.
    Although on placement i know you have to plan more and prepare more than when you get a full time job, i just feel that with this planning stacking up i will start to miss out on extra curricular opportunities with children, because i will choose to miss out on them.
    I am not angry about this nor is there anyone in particular to blame, i have never been happier on a placement and i want a good report so i imagine i will be lesson planning in all my contact time for the rest of my placement, this article is not going to change that.
    The one problem i do have is with my uni, i feel the fact that i have been observed in my second week FOR THE ONLY TIME by my uni tutor, she is not coming back in even though im not even half way through my placement. Which i feel is ridiculous, and also the irony that my uni tutors encourage me to keep pushing myself from 'developing' to 'extending' as a teacher yet they want essays of lesson plans as if i had never taught a kid before.
    I feel it has got to the point where im planning so that my file makes the grade, i don't use my long lesson plans when teaching i write an overview on one side of A4 to have with me on the desk just so i can make sure im meeting objectives and tasks that need doing.
    I won't let this effect my placement i will continue enjoying it all the same i was just wondering what a range of people feel about the amount of lesson planning STUDENTS are required to do.
  2. Is this a wind up?

    There are only two things you need to know about planning
    1) you have to do it, and
    2) you have to do it in the way whoever is your 'boss' wants you to do it.

    Yes, we all know that it takes you away from more important things.... you are not the first person to begrudge the time and you won't be the last.
    And yes, students should be doing more detailed planning than a teacher with more experience. You don't know everything yet.

  3. You are a student. You have a hell of a lot of hoops to jump through and one of them is detailed planning.
    If you work in a school that expects detailed planning you will also have to do it as a fully qualified teacher.
  4. Blimey! What a long post. And al the preamble about you being such a fabulous student seems to justify the fact that you don't think you have to do the planning- why, are you too good for all that?!
    Sorry if that sounds b*tchy but you really ought to just do as you're told.
  5. As you grow up and get in the real world, you will find that detailed planning, as others have said is all about the current climate and situation your school is in. I have been teaching 10 years, I currently have to do lesson plans for everything even though I could teach them off the top of my head. If I feel so strongly about it, I could leave as its called a free market-simple as

  6. minnieminx

    minnieminx New commenter

    Is what I was going to say as well!
  7. greta444

    greta444 New commenter

    We have got a fabulous student in our school at the moment, last placement. I feel sorry for him, the amount of planning he has to do but that's life. The best students manage their time to ensure that the paperwork is done and they give their best to the children too.
    Luckily for him, his uni recognise that excellent students don't need the very detailed planning and have a less detailed format to use in the last few weeks. This has reduced his workload a bit.
    And by the way, OP, it's affect, not effect. Wish people would learn the difference.
  8. I'm afraid you just have to get on with it - it goes with the territory.
  9. And these 2 comments sum up so much of what is wrong with the teaching profession today. The 'shut up and do as you're told even if you think it's a load of ****' mentality that pervades our schools (often from female teachers).
    You're right to realize the pointlessness of detailed planning. Alas, since you're on a training placement, you will have to jump through the hoops. Once qualified, you won't have to prove yourself quite so much. Many teachers share your views on excessive planning - but many of them will just lie down and take it.
  10. ...make that 3 comments
  11. ...make that 4
  12. Missed that one....makes 5....they're coming out of the woodwork for this thread.
  13. Or you could grow a spine. Is that 6? (losing count)
  14. Clearly you have never worked in an ISP school then Sulla.
  15. Actually, although it killed me having to do such detailed lesson plans as a student, it helped me to learn how to plan an effective lesson and how an effective lesson works. I am FED UP with people who think they're too good for the rules, better than all the other lowly teachers who just get on with their jobs. Experienced teachers can pick and choose to an extent what they choose not to do becaise it's pointless... but some things just have to get done whether you like it or not.
    Sulla. I'm assuming you're a frustrated wannabe head? Cos you bloody sound like someone who knows better than everyone else. We have one in our school. And yes, he's male. Grrrr!
  16. minnieminx

    minnieminx New commenter

    Male or female is largely irrelevant. But if you want to get on in life or work, sometimes you have to do things that annoy you just because someone else tells you to.

    Sometimes it is right to make a fuss and flatly refuse to do things. Sometimes it would just be stupid.

    You need to decide how much planning you need to do to teach the very best lessons you possibly can. If all your observations are outstanding and you are getting outstanding for all your professional standards, then what you are doing works. If there is any room for improvement, then following advice of older and wiser people is probably the way to go.

    When I was training someone once said to me (I think I was having a sulk about having to do something I thought was pointless.) "There are three types of policies in school: Ones that you whole heartedly agree with and follow to the letter. Ones that you disagree with, but go along with for an easy ride. And ones that you totally disagree with, ignore entirely and hope no-one ever notices. But you have your justification ready if they do." And he was right you know.
  17. So, are you suggesting that teaching is the only job where people have to conform to what the boss decrees?
    Or are you saying that it is only jobs where women work?
    I have been in many a staff meeting when teachers have expressed opinions and objected to whatever the latest new initiative is, but unless you are very lucky that's as far as it goes.
    C'es la vie!

  18. I am with Sulla on this one. You are right to question the innanity of much of this bureaucracy. It is what you do with the children that really matters in the long run. It is perfectly possible to teach and to teach well, with highly motivated children making progress without writing it all down. There are different eays of teaching and there was a time when many teachers could teach this way with pride and integrity in themselves without someone looking over the shoulder.

    The difficulty is to find the right conditions to grow as a teacher. Much of what people are insiting you do is about the mechanisms of 'schooling', an industrialised view of learning as quality controlled input and measureable output and standardised attainment. It is interesting as far as it goes, but it lacks soul, and that is what you need to find in yourself and live large in the classroom and in your relationships with children. All the curricula, the levels, the assessments, the groupings (or not), the myriad plethora of modern management tools, all boil down really to one - you. Children inherently (in primary school) will place trust in you that matches their sense of optimism. They do not know what they are 'suposed' to know and so do not feel a 'lack', they do not want you to see in them what they lack, but what they have to give. They want to sense their optimism relfected in you. In many places it is very hard for teachers to reflect his very basic life position as they are so harried and mindful of complying wth those 'who tell you what to do so just do it'.

    Remember many have this same questioning inside and they will quietly support you, there are too many that are oppressed themselves by such a competitive, production oriented, OFSTED impelled concensus of thinking. There is no way that a teacher of many years standing needs to do the detailed planning that they may well be continually asked to do. This goes against the natural evolution and maturing of skills borne of reflection on experience. Having to do so, injures many a natural dignity and the bruising which results reflects in the most natural of defences- cycnicsm, very evident on this thread.

    I think there is a need for healthy cynicism, but not necessarily about teachers by teachers - children are resilient and learn all ways including the non-spoon fed, diffentiated, objective-stated, target specified, graded and levelled activities. So many of those who tell us what to do, who receive plaudits and honours for 'turning' a school around are proved underneath to have achieved short-term gains that do not sustain. THe many myths that are sold us - It is safe to bank in Iceland, Academies will change the face of education, free schools will be free of state bureaucracy-
    at some point prove to be more spin than substance. So keep your integrity, share your doubts and take a wide and long view of education, it will shape you as much as you shape it and you want to remain a rounded human being for as long as you can, it is the best model for kids- and the one which best reflects them anyway.

    If you think you don't need to do such detailed stuff now, then you may well be right, many children also would question a lot of stuff they are told to do if they had the chance. Many teachers have grown up without the stifling planning levels that are now expeced in some places. And yes many children learned well, some had weaker teachers and learned less than they could have. That is life however and I thnk scratching the surface of the differentiated, targeted planning format that appear to be so many recipes you may find that there are still master chefs around who impovise, blend, are inspired and create, in the classroom.

    The thing with planning is to do it with total insincerity by which I mean as far as it is a useful tool to help you reflect on your work then shape it to your own needs. The rest of it. copy, cut and paste, change dates and names, put it on the central system or wherever you have to put it and then get on with being an inspiring teacher, interested in the children and their world. Detailed planning doesn't mean good teaching - a colleague of mine has this quote on her classroom, 'if you know exactly what you are going to do, what is the point of doing it?'. This is not to let you off the hook of commitment and professional diligence, but to let you know that you must listen to your own doubts and really question what is ging on around you. It is never too early to do that. Your teaching life may be a long one and at the end of the day it is you with groups of children wherever you go, their families, your colleagues and the particular social situation in which you are working. These are many and varied in their scope. YOu will need all of your wits, your instincts, the skills learned and sweat spent, above and beyond the plans in order to have the resources to meet challenges and answer children well. So keep up the questions.
  19. Much of what you say is true yohanalicante....but it cuts no ice in the average school. I have taught for more than 30 years and I have worked in schools where I am expected to plan like a a student and others where I have been allowed to plan much less intensely. In one blessed case the Head required no planning at all! The point I am making is that no matter what my personal view of planning ( or any other matter) is I am required to conform to what the Head wants or be prepared for a world of pain.
    To get back to the OP, teaching is no different to other jobs in that respect. You start out not knowing much and having to work to earn the right, and if you are lucky, the opportunity to do things your own way. Unfortunately teaching seems to be quite low on the 'creative ways of working' scale
    Ironic, isn't it?
  20. Yes, Uni students should do detailed planning, regardless of how amazing they think they are.


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