We’re all looking to achieve consistency across our departments and school, right? We’re looking to improve teaching standards. We’re looking to our teachers to be better, and we’re looking to be absolutely clear on what students have learnt as a result of our lessons. All of this can be achieved with collaborative planning. If you’re not sure what that is, it’s basically getting together as the different teachers of one department and planning lessons together. Now I’m not talking about taking a different topic each and sitting down together to plan them separately. I’m talking about all of you getting together and thinking through each lesson, one at a time, as a department.
So this is how you do it properly. You have to consider:
- What am I going to teach? i.e. what is the topic? What is the content?
- Where am I going to find that information? The easiest place is probably a textbook, but can also source images, historical records, official documents, etc. As a team, you’ll have different ideas to bring to the table, and you can save yourself a lot of time putting together your source material as a collective.
- What different techniques will be used to teach this material? This is where your collective energy and brain power really pays off. You will decide together just how you’re going to teach this topic – the activities, resources, ways you will teach the content. What’s the advantage of this? Achieving coherence and consistency across all of your teachers. We’re always looking to achieve consistency in teaching and this is the way to do it. You’ve sat down together to decide how you’ll communicate the content and what you’ll get students to do, so all of you will deliver this better than if you would by just trying to figure this out by yourself. Also, it means that as a head of department or faculty leader, you’ve achieved a common standard for everyone that you can monitor and hold everyone accountable for. It makes things easier for everyone from an NQT, all the way upwards. It also means that you’re upskilling your less experienced members of staff, because they’re working together with and gaining insights into the more experienced members’ way of thinking and planning.
- How will I check students’ understanding and how often? Again, this achieves consistency across your department, and it’s very good CPD for everyone involved. You’ll be very clear on just what you’re looking for your students to understand, how you will measure it, and (importantly) what you’ll do if they DON’T understand it. Teachers aren’t floundering around not knowing what to do in the case of students not understanding something, and you as the person monitoring all of this are clear on what you’re basing the success of the lesson on.
- Where will this topic come up again? Can I build toward that now? This will help you build connections between different lessons and weave them together so that you can build students’ understanding over time on different subject areas. It adds depth.
- One especially for HODS, but very useful for teachers as well: What do I expect to see in students’ books as a result of this lesson? Again, this is about achieving consistency in what you’re measuring in order to be able to give feedback on it, both to your students and to your teachers – you can hold them to account.
- How will students remember this in 3 months’ time? If you think of this as you’re planning and work toward building links across lessons, you’ll stand a much better chance of your students remembering the vast quantity of knowledge that the curriculum expects them to. The sequencing of your lessons has to be deliberate, and if you plan this together, you’ll all be on the same page when it comes to the delivery of your lessons – greatly improving their quality.
In summary… (excuse the handwriting)