And so it comes to that time in the holiday when I look ahead to the next year and to engage in the kind of thinking (and planning) that is too hard to do under the regimes of classroom teaching and marking.
A tremendous amount of organisation and planning has already been achieved. I am thinking, and I hope, to make my planning more efficient and responsive than ever. To underscore my beliefs:
- It is possible to teach well to an observer by getting students to do activities. Completion of the activities leads to learning, particularly if students feel excited and engaged. The ideal, however, is to get students to think.
- We want to get students to think in a variety of ways – not everything thinks like an academic, or a scientist, even conceptually.
- Begin clear about the thinking, or the concepts, that students might/should require is ideal. These maps are a little thin on the ground in education. They are important. It is difficult to discern particular skills in English study without it being entirely fallacious.
- Making lessons responsive to what students have learned before is the most difficult skill to plan, and especially so in the study of literature or English where such learning is difficult to test accurately.
- Lessons should have supremely high expectations. Lessons should be pitched from the top down. Every student should be able to engage at some point. Five minutes of genuine thinking is better than forty five minutes of just doing stuff.
- Students need to be able to extend themselves at a pace suitable for them.
- It is up to the teachers to sell improvement, academia and their subject. Teachers will always be needed to sell students the need to improve, and the need to think.
- It is up to teachers to hold students accountable for their thinking. Inspiration is the key.
- All points of planning are best placed in one document (like Ian Pickering’s wonderful OneNote…)
- Ultimately, though, teacher planning needs to be realistic. Life needs to be able to happen on a few weekends without planning dropping off entirely.
With all of this in mind, this is my plan for next years MTPs…
- To use Ian Pickering’s One Note to have the planning for students all in one place.
- To incorporate a range of thinking skills in a manner that is realistic, useful and not just lip-service.
- To link lessons through the six questions at the start of each lesson.
Sixth Form lessons will, of course, be different. Literature will be split into cognitive units but with the ability to hyperlink to generic concepts on character, theme and theory. How that will work is yet to be seen, but that is the plan over the next few weeks (to bring those things together…).