Expert Lesson Planning

I have been thinking about lesson planning a lot recently, both as a process that we all need to understand more fully and as a strategy for developing teacher practise in school.  This reflection started when reviewing our lesson observation feedback.  We have seen all of our staff teach over the past few months and have some clear themes to develop over the next year.  I wanted to come up with a way of stimulating some thought about planning and challenging the way planning has been done historically.

A way forward for this became apparent after attending @learningspy‘s brilliant session at #TLABerkhamstead about the Anatomy of an Outstanding Lesson.   It was David’s 5 questions to prompt planning that gave me a way to provoke thinking among the staff and give them a template to support planning without being prescriptive about the outcome.  If that seems to be a contradiction then let me explain further….

The head at my school has been really keen to avoid setting down a template for planning as he wants to avoid the possibility that it will produce repetition of approaches and a lack flair and creativity.  However, this liberating approach needs to be contrasted with the desire of staff to have guidance to make sure they are doing the “right thing”.  So you can see my predicament.  How do I guide staff to make their planning more effective and more efficient without giving them a template that they can follow to the letter.

I spent a large part of my Easter holiday thinking about this – to make things more difficult, it was the first time I led an INSET session with the staff in my new role, so I wanted to make sure I inspired instead of insulted.

I came up with the following presentation.  There are two key elements to it.  Firstly I wanted to clarify what we, as a school, understood effective learning to be.  For this I drew on the work of Alistair Smith and his StepUp project.  Then I re-drafted David’s 5 questions to prompt planning into 6 questions.  I wanted to keep them to a minimum number but when I sat down to whittle them down I couldn’t distill them any further.

I then structured the presentation around ensuring that the rationale behind each of my prompts was explained fully.

I took everyone of the 50 minutes I had for the session and I got some great feedback from the staff afterwards.
I will write a separate  more detailed post, about the planning questions and my thinking behind them.  In the meantime I hope you find the presentation helpful.  I want to say a huge thanks to David Didau for sharing his ideas and being kind enough to let me use his learning loop image.

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