Thursday, 1 February 2018

Planning for learning

Teaching is an amazingly positive profession and I have always been thankful that I made the choice to become a teacher, at the tender age of 16. At that age, I had no idea about what a challenging (but always positive!) profession I had chosen. It requires many complex skills and a deep level of understanding on so many levels. In any one day a teacher can be, in addition to their teaching role, a social worker, counsellor, coach, guide, administration worker, decorator, artist, chaperone, monitor...

One of the most important professional undertakings of a teacher is to plan their lessons so that each student in their care receives a quality education, one that also nurtures, challenges and extends them.

Typically, teachers plan on three levels:

Long term plans (LTP)- these are often in the form of the curriculum and  learning outcomes at each level on a continuum basis. At Bradbury, these take the form, for example of our Scope and Sequence documents, or our Programme of Inquiry (PoI) overview. These are 'big picture' plans and are broad and generic.

Medium term plans- these are based on the Long Term Plans and outline the intense learning for a shorter period of time, maybe a term, or perhaps over one Unit of Inquiry. These will give a more detailed breakdown of how the learning outcomes will be addressed. They are still fairly generic, although maybe personalised to a year group. These are usually worked on collaboratively. They are expected to include a sequential/developmental build-up of skills i.e. a progression of skills over a period of time based on the Bradbury School and ESF continuums.

Short term plans- this is where the real personalisation of deliberate teaching to meet individual needs occurs. These are completed by each teacher for each area of the curriculum, for example, literacy and maths. In these, learning objectives are clearly stated along with the learning activities, which need to match/reinforce the learning objectives – these may be current objectives or be for maintenance and reinforcement. They need to detail differentiation strategies, showing how different ability levels, learning styles or flexible groups of students are catered for. They also need to include the assessment strategies to be used, resources, how the EA will be used, and need to be completed weekly showing learning activities for each day. These can be modified throughout the week. Teachers can record their planning, to reflect individual preferences. They are detailed, precise and specific plans that require lots of professional knowledge to 'get right'.

In order to achieve all of the above, a good working knowledge of developmental stages of growth- both physical and cognitive, in depth curriculum knowledge and high level pedagogical knowledge is necessary.

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