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Winging it

Discussion in 'Personal' started by nick909, Jan 24, 2020.

  1. nick909

    nick909 Star commenter

    How much of your job, or your most recent job if you're no longer working, do you spend mostly winging it?

    It's occurred to me that I wing a great deal of mine. I do make sure I plan for and prepare most of my lessons properly, and my assessment is pretty solid, but even some of those I wing from time to time. Meetings, reports, presentations, assemblies, etc. however, I pretty much wing completely. If I had the time to prepare for them all fully, then I would, but I don't. So I wing it out of necessity. And I do so pretty convincingly, I think. I hope, anyway.

    I guess there's a difference between knowing your job well enough to do it without having to think too much about it, and turning up totally unprepared and making it up on the spot, but probably only a subtle one.

    And I'm increasingly convinced that most people spend most of their working life completely winging it. I'd hope that the emergency services and medical professionals don't, but I've had appointments with GPs that have made me wonder. The vast majority of politicians on every side, however...
    Catgirl1964 and emerald52 like this.
  2. lapinrose

    lapinrose Star commenter

    When I was doing supply, every lesson was 'winging it', especially when teaching a subject you're not trained for!
  3. Mangleworzle

    Mangleworzle Star commenter

    Being able to wing it is a skill greatly looked down on by those who are unable to do it. To do it convincingly and well (the hard bit) takes years of practise and loads of previous preparation.

    It is vital to being a good teacher, part way through a lesson you realise your class are or aren't getting the teaching point at the predicted rate, you could proceed according to your plan or you could start to "wing it" by changing the lesson to something more appropriate for the current circumstances.

    There are many other circumstances when a change, sometimes a major change, to the lesson plan is required, IT failure being probably the commonest major one.

    Surely something like a GP requires high level winging it most of the time? They don't know what they are going to face in many appointments and need the ability to delve into their mental archives when faced with very rare and obscure maladies.
  4. emerald52

    emerald52 Star commenter

    It’s modern name is being flexible and is seen as a high level skill. You couldn’t possibly plan everything in teaching. Even if you did then you have to adjust for wind, snow and heat at least.
  5. Dunteachin

    Dunteachin Star commenter

    Doorknob lessons.:)
  6. Jolly_Roger15

    Jolly_Roger15 Star commenter

    Some lesson observers would see 'flexibility', such as adapting a lesson to suit the students reactions to it, as 'deviating from the lesson plan', and 'lack of contingency planning'. You cannot win.
  7. coffeekid

    coffeekid Star commenter

    I'm winging at LIFE.
    Or do I mean "winning"? Hmmm...
  8. colpee

    colpee Star commenter

    Depends what you mean. Not needing much prep because I am an experienced professional who can conduct myself usefully in most work situations without too much pre-work, is entirely different from the waffling idiot that we have all come across, who spouts off in the hope that no-one notices - but people usually do!
    border_walker and nick909 like this.
  9. TheOracleAtDelphi

    TheOracleAtDelphi Established commenter

    I worked at one school where the phrase winging it was banned...we used to do a lot of responding to dynamically changing situations instead ;)
  10. sbkrobson

    sbkrobson Star commenter

    I learnt a long time ago that the main secret of winging it was keeping people off your back. In three important ways-
    1. never look at emails ever. They are like sweets at the check out-you just don't need them and they are not what you are there for.
    2. always carry a piece of typed paper when walking anywhere in the school. (Today, for example, was an amateur printed advert for my local window cleaner)
    3. anytime anybody stops you for something, immediately get in first and say "Hi! how are you? I'm actually off to see a parent, so if you need me, can you drop by my office after school?". The "after school" bit alone is sufficient deterrent to prevent most people from ever discovering that you don't actually have an office.
  11. Duke of York

    Duke of York Star commenter

    I'm trying to think of a job I've had that didn't require winging it in one way or other. A significant part of my life was spent making prototype gadgets, which could literally be anything, in any size or material. No workshop has all the tools or machinery it's possible to have, and nobody is going to fork out a fortune to see if an idea is in with a chance of working, so I frequently had to improvise with what I had available, or what I could make to get a job done.

    The thing I enjoyed most about that part of my life, was that every job I took on involved challenges to overcome, so it was a perpetual learning and creative experience. Best of all, it was a career that would only thrive if the rule books were torn up and the imagination took over.

    I have immense gratitude to my woodwork and metalwork teaching me what constituted the teaching of technology in the 60s, for enabling to appreciate I could be capable of making stuff, but apart from the knowledge they imparted that allowed me to get a foot in the door, I went on to disregard much of what I was taught back then.

    If someone tells you "There's more than one way to skin a cat", listen to them and try to imagine all the known ways a cat can be skinned, then invent alternative methods to see where that might lead.

    Society only progressed after the Enlightenment challenged established dogma; and I doubt that would have occurred if the free-thinkers who made it possible, never had to think on their feet.

    Take a look at this graph.

    It shows that worldwide GDP per capita remained static since year zero then suddenly exploded exponentially in the late 1700s. If you ask an historian why, he would possibly attribute it to the Indusrial Revolution and they wouldn't be lying, but the Industrial Revolution would never have occurred without a single significant bit of lateral thinking that made it possible.

    James Watt would still be scratching his b.ollocks on how to about make a steam engine without the invention of a precision metal turning lathe. You can trace woodworking lathes back to 3,000 years BC and there were metal turning lathes used by clockmakers in the 1700s, but until someone invented the slide rest lathe in 1751 to solve a problem in the textile industy as it was at the time, it wasn't possible to machine metal with any degree of precision.

    This single invention allowed the Industrial Revolution to happen and allowed all the rest of machinery to be made. Without that invention, we wouldn't be consuming electricity to communicate with each other and talk b.ollocks as the mood takes us.

    None of us would have more to eat after a day in the fields, cultivating the squire's crops apart from the turnips we smuggled off his land.

    But which history teacher among you can name who invented the machine that changed the world economy and your life for the better?
    border_walker likes this.
  12. LondonCanary

    LondonCanary Star commenter

    Yet Newcomen's engine was built before 1720, (the engine that Watt improved with a separeate condenser).
    Arguably Watt's engine would not have been a commercial success without the invention/refinement of the boring machine, so it's not really possible to ascribe success to a single machine tool.
  13. colpee

    colpee Star commenter

    Ah but it would have been invented @Duke of York. Nearly all technical problems attacked by clever engineers get solved if the world needs it. It is entirely right to laud Henry Maudslay who advanced precision engineering with his invention sooner than others. It gave Britain a massive boost towards the industrial revolution. I wouldn't though, conflate that to mean that if Maudslay didn't do it at that time, that no one would do it at all. Perhaps the industrial revolution would have started in Britain a bit later, but it would have started just the same.
  14. magic surf bus

    magic surf bus Star commenter

    I literally lost count of the different subjects I taught full-time at GCSE, and I didn't teach the main one I trained for at KS4 until some 25 years after my PGCE. Four years of supply added more variety to the mix. In my final school I worked in every department at some point as a Supply.

    Funnily enough I wouldn't say I winged it - I transferred my core teaching skills to suit different subject matter at regular intervals in my career. I made every effort to refresh my subject knowledge for exam level work.

    Depends on who invented sewing. Without that, no northerly migration out of Africa for H Sapiens.:)

    After that my money would be on the numerous inventors of the stone axe, for forest clearance and the spread of agriculture.
  15. Duke of York

    Duke of York Star commenter

    I disagree. As I attempted to describe, I found ways to be inventive to solve the specific problems I had to deal with, but there's only so far an invention can go withouth the precision production to take it further.

    When you look at everything that made th modern economy possible, whether it be inerterchangable parts to make weapons more reliable or the ability to knock out a million iphones per hour, it all boils down to to a single invention that made it possible to make precision parts.
  16. Duke of York

    Duke of York Star commenter

    Henry Maudsllay's invention came later some thirty years later, and there were flaws in his invention that the previous one didn't have.

    I agree that necessity is the mother of invention and once it's been discovered what both that necessity is and how to solve it, it inspires a rapid growth of further invention, but it all starts somewhere with someone thinking outside he box and trying something different.

    Nobody knows where an idea might end up. Comedy would never have progressed into an art form if someone hadn't reinvented the court jester. It's more difficult to say who that was, because they don't have a museum of comedy in the same way that science museums have been able to track the progress of technological innovation.
  17. eljefeb90

    eljefeb90 Senior commenter

    As a Head of Department, I was concerned that a new member of my department, a very conscientious Polish lady, was spending too much time preparing lessons and not allowing for spontaneous learning opportunities. I eventually got her to promise me that she should try to do minimal preparation for the next day.
    I got her to repeat after me, ' **** it! Tomorrow, I'm winging it.'
    emerald52 likes this.
  18. moscowbore

    moscowbore Lead commenter

    I once had ofsted in a lesson. As described earlier, the students were not getting it so I changed the course of the lesson to focus on a vital piece of learning which I was told had been covered. Turned out that they had never seen a vlookup before. So off I went into vlookup.
    The feedback I received from my deputy head was that the lesson was poor. I disagreed. The students had all independently completed a vlookup task which I invented on-the-spot and were ready now to progress to answering an exam question. I would suggest that a less experienced teacher would have ploughed on with the prepared lesson and it would have been pointless.
    I discovered that day that teaching and learning mattered not a jot to ofsted and slt and I have never forgotten that.
  19. sbkrobson

    sbkrobson Star commenter

    I get that; a great many of my inspected lessons have been judged a complete vlookup.
    alex_teccy likes this.
  20. lrw22

    lrw22 Established commenter

    With this new Ofsted framework making us primary school teachers feel as though we have to be subject specialists across the board, I don't wing anything anymore!

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