Sometimes Old School way of doing ‘stuff’ to our learners is no longer good enough.
I am an experienced teacher with both research and practical classroom experiences under my belt. In addition I have just about done every job that can possibly be done in a school.
Today I want to share with you my experience with planning for learning.
My classroom experience spans well over three decades. In that time I have seen the shift in teaching from the front of the class with 38 little faces in front of me, to developing group teaching where students are levelled against their reading, writing and mathematics levels.
In my earlier years in the early 1980s, there was no photocopier and I used butchers paper to handwrite task sheets for my reading groups. I used crayons because this was before the time of marker pens.
When the banda machines arrived, the giant sheets became A4 size and I would meticulously create the carbon masters to try and extract 30 copies for the master folder.
During that time too, my daily planner was hand ruled up each week and I would meticulously recraft the week like a timetable but with resources labelled.
Then in the early 1990s the photocopier changed the way we operated in the classroom. The banda sheets were repurposed into photocopier sheets. The weekly plan was copied and handwritten on. What a fabulous invention. I no longer had to rule dreaded templates. Following that we could buy a years planning book, but as our thinking changed, one book was not enough and we had two planning books. One for Literacy and one for numeracy.
After that the computer became part of the package and those of us who could, did. We bought our own computers and our own printers and started creating planning and worksheets using computers.
Before school wifi, we shared resources using floppy discs and that photocopier turned out to be our best friend and a headache for schools budgets. If only we had one in each class.
Each teacher had pretty folders with all their planning and assessment and some teachers were rated on how neat and tidy these were. Personally I found them a nightmare and only kept one because I had to and for no other reason then for when I was checked that I had one. My senior teachers ‘preferred paper’. But by then I had bought my own laptop and was using my planning digitally. I could never understand why I could not share my planning via floppy disc and always had to produce the dreaded paper folder.
This was before the TELA scheme.
The TELA scheme changed the game again and some schools realised that with a server, all teachers could share their planning. However I still found some team leaders loved those folders and to get teachers to share their planning via a server was a challenge.
Following on N4L kicked in and suddenly we had fast broadband and access was unlimited. WHOOHOO. I then saw a shift of planning moving to the cloud and being much more transparent with the use of Google Tools for Schools. However at the same time I could see a repurposing of planning. Rather than the printed off Doc for the planning folder, I could see the Doc sitting in a shared folder. Going back over a few decades, that doc kind of looked the same. Maybe a bit fuller as teachers copied and pasted from government planning sites.
With the cloud, teachers started to play with other planning formats and some used sheets or presentations as the tool. Some teachers continued with the doc format as they were able to just upload the word copy and duplicate the process in the cloud. Last year I wrote a post to unpack some of my thinking around blogs and sites and you can read that here.
As I tracked other schools I could see an evolvement using sites and blogs to curate all planning. The online spaces became like a folder and the planning was curated neatly using sites or blogger. Some adventurous teachers trialled My Portfolio or Wixsite, or wikispaces.
Last year I worked in the senior part of our school and was blown away by the use of calendars to support the children take control of their own learning. The children used a class calendar and dropped any workshops they needed into their personal calendars.
I immediately saw my understanding of lesson planning was no longer relevant for our current learners or for how fast we were moving as a school.
Recently I have undertaken learning to be a Hapara Champion Educator. I wanted to know more about the teacher dashboard tool and how it impacts on my understanding of what planning would look like. I also wanted to see the relevance of using the tool to support our learners to be more agentic. Those of you who might be interested in the course can apply for the next cohort of champions.
Within a very short time I have learnt that my concept of teacher planning is outdated and in order to keep up, I needed to be in the same working environment from both our learners and our teachers viewpoint. The Hapara Champion Educator course is approximately one month long. However how and when I complete the modules is entirely over to me, within a given timeframe. I choose when to begin the work. I choose when I am ready to share it with my teachers, I choose how to build my learning and choose how I will share that learning. I have access to flipped learning where I can watch videos created by my teachers to support my learning. I can rewind parts I am unsure off or fast forward sections I am already competent in. When I am ready I can sit tests that allow me the opportunity to fix any gaps in my learning so that I am happy with the results. I press submit and if there is still time and my work could be improved, my teachers can send it back to me with feedback of how to make it better.
Finally I have access to asynchronous communication with my peers and my teachers so that I do not need to see them facetoface for discussions.
Where to next for me: I am building a learning workspace and can see the value of doing this that far outperforms traditional digital planning as I know it. I had been struggling with creating a digital space using blogger for one of my groups. Hapara has already revealed where I needed to focus in order to run a much more efficient learning space. I like the way it talks to all the google tools and to links so that everything is in one space. The space is super exciting because once I started building I could see where my planning gaps were for my learners.
I especially like the way I can duplicate the format I have created, adjust it and repurpose it to suit another group of learners. I can take parts of it and target individual learners who a) might be struggling, or b)might need extending.
The most exciting part of Hapara is sharing what I am doing but keeping my learners personal details private so the framework is available to other teachers. If I invite teachers into the space from my school we can co construct the digital learning environment together.
I haven’t yet completed my course but I am already changed in the way I see planning and the way I can better incorporate Hapara into transformative instruction.
My question for you
Is teacher planning still monitored in your school and if so where are you up to with overseeing the professional teaching criteria?
Does your school still insist on a particular way of presenting planning or are your teachers encouraged to be agentic with their planning?