This summer I was nominated to write this post, so why has it taken me so long to actually sit down and write it? I am wholeheartedly aware of the power of sharing. In my own school I advocate this on a daily basis. I sing from the roof tops the importance of collaborating and co – planning, so why hesitate on putting pen to paper? The answer- my tendency to over analyse everything I do gets in the way. This year is different. My first step, this guest post..
Co – planning is not a new strategy, but one that has had the biggest impact on my teaching and my department. Our Science Faculty is a great faculty, filled with great teachers who year upon year achieve fantastic results with the students they teach. Together we embarked on a co-coaching network. I worked with groups of 2/3 teachers in a half term cycle. We co-planned a lesson. I then taught the lesson whilst the other teachers observed with a member of SLT. We then spent time reflecting upon our planning and my delivery. A sequence of lessons based on what they had observed was then planned and taught. The standards of teaching in the department made a significant improvement as a result. Why was this strategy so successful, because we took the time to critically and collaboratively plan lessons. I opened my doors and encouraged staff to pull apart the lesson without reserve (and grades). I truly believe my colleagues were able to be more reflective of their planning watching someone else deliver the lesson. The collaborative planning was a key element.
Last year a sparky young NQT bounced into our science department, by the end of the year she had been appointed as a pedagogy leader and a member of our teaching and learning team. This year she has been given a challenging year 11 C/D borderline class, as we have very similar classes we decided to plan together in the first few weeks. What I believed to be a mentoring session has become a weekly planning session. Every Thursday afterschool we sit down and plan our year 11 classes together. Neither of us has to do this, yet what we plan together is 10 times better than what I either of us could have planned on our own. The biggest bonus though, is that our workload is reduced. Co-planning means sharing the resources and therefore the workload. What I think is a great lesson is made an even better one by talking things through and adapting with SOH.
Every Wednesday we (@siancarter and our teaching and learning team) have marking and planning (MAP) club, where staff are invited to plan and mark together. Last week 1/3 of our staff popped along to the library to take part. Another example of how collaborative planning at MB is making a difference.
So my top tips;
- Plan together – whether this is simply a mid-term plan or more detailed. What you produce will be of far better quality than if you worked alone.
- Don’t expect what will work for one class will work for another – co-planning is great, but knowing what your class needs and not being afraid to adapt for tem is better.
- Never blindly plan a sequence of lessons without truly reflecting on their impact upon students.
- Share, share, share – when it goes wrong AND when it goes well.
- Tea and cake/biscuits/chocolate is an essential part of co-planning.