When it comes to planning, and teaching, it seems obvious that we as professionals would know that a schedule is very important. We live by them, eat by them, teach by them and even try to sleep by schedules!
However, maybe I am a slow learner, it took me a long time to “get” the idea of planning ahead for the long term goals. It really hit me at the end of 2007. The Year 9 Music class I had in 2006, proved to be a very difficult one. It seemed that at every turn I was “butting heads” with my more talented students. I was becoming very frustrated, and so were my students. I was lucky enough to have a brilliant educator as my Head of Faculty, and she was very patient with me. As colleagues we discussed so many different options for this class. As the discussions went on, it dawned on me that I had been using someone else’s programs to teach from, and that these programs were outdated for this current cohort. I know this seems really obvious, but it wasn’t at the time!
I then set about redesigning a new program to use with this class. I had found a renewed sense of purpose. I took a couple of giant steps back and looked at the big picture. I started to think about what skills I wanted my students to have by the end of Year 10. After that, it seemed to all fall into place. I had a direction, goals in mind and I could easily plan the whole year with the end goals in mind. I set up a new Assessment Schedule, I redesigned Assessment Tasks, and I purposely planned to teach the skills needed for those assessments during class time. Needless to say, that year was a very successful one. At the end of the course, my students who once saw me as the enemy, were now my favourites! So much so, that I still have contact with those students today, and two of them only got married a couple of months ago, makes me feel both “old” and proud to know them.
So what type of planning did I do? Well I broke all the skills that my students needed down into smaller more digestible chunks, and taught them accordingly. I still do this, although the process does not take me as long anymore because I do it so often! In the FREE download there are pages of templates, resources and a few more pieces of information for you to use, in whatever way will work best for you and your situation.
Now this type of planning isn’t something new, it is called Backward Mapping. If you want to research this more, you will find a lot of information on the ins and outs, but I will not go into that here! Link to the FREEBIE here.
So how do I actually do this process? I will briefly outline it here for you. But remember if you want more detailed information, and of course FREEBIES. Enrol in the course—you will be glad you did 🙂
The first thing to do, before setting any schedule, is to do some research first. You should know your data, and you should have a SMART goal defined. For more on these two topics, click below to go to the blog post about them.
Data Blog Post here
SMART Goal Blog Post here
Start by asking yourself these questions
- What is the overall Big Picture?
- What skills do you have to teach?
- How long do you have to teach these skills?
- What order do these skills need to be taught in?
- What else do you need to consider?
Once you have answered these questions, you should be able to progress on towards the next stage of setting your schedules. At this stage, I get out my calendars, both personal and professional. I then start to put important dates onto a blank planner. At this stage, I am not worried about anything being right or pretty—I just need to get all my information out there. I will then take a step back and complete the next step in the process before committing anything else to paper.
So now I try to answer these questions. As I do this stage I will have in the back of my mind how much time, in percentages, I should be giving to each aspect of the course I am teaching—50/50 practical/theory, or is it 60/20/20—practical/theory/logbook? You will know what you have to do here.
- What are your main content areas?
- How much time needs to be given for each content area?
- How much class time do you need for each content area?
- What other things should be considered?
Now you should be getting down to the nitty gritty of setting your schedule! I now like to use the planning templates, that are in the FREE download. There are a few different ones to choose from—there should be one to suit your particular needs. I will start writing down what has to happen by when—and I can get quite specific!
The last step in this process is putting it all together on paper. I find that by committing it to paper, and making it very visible at home, at school and in my classroom I tend to hold myself more accountable! At this stage I will give each class I teach a colour, and each assessment task will get a shape. I also colour code my personal stuff (but do not make this visible in the classroom!). I will now write everything into my planner/s. Often It will not fit onto a whole term planner, so I will make a general schedule for display, then will have more detailed one in my staff room in a planner that I have printed out using the templates in the FREEBIE.
I will use this process with not only myself, but with my staff when planning big events, assessments, etc.… but also for my students when planning for their big events too.
If you have found this post this helpful remember, you can enrol in the FREE Planning for Success Course.
In the course you will have access to all the Resources, Video Tutorials, Video Slides and more! Each video is only about 15 minutes long, and each printable resource can be used over and over for many years to come! Once enrolled in the course, you will have unlimited access and you can watch the videos as often as you like!
Until next time
Julia from Jooya