In my CPD calender, I have a session called ‘Outstanding Planning Seminar’. I wanted to say a little more about how I set this out, as well as sharing some resources I created to run the session. For more about the contents of the CPD programme that I built, please follow this link.
This session is just for 2nd year trainee teachers, designed to push their lesson planning towards ‘Outstanding’ and really get them thinking carefully and forensically about lesson planning. Very much based on the ‘participant-led’ principle discussed in my CPD Paradox post, I wanted the trainees themselves to lead the sessions, with only minimal input from me. In the first session, I gave them a ‘success criteria’ for an Outstanding lesson, comprising some of what I consider to be important elements for well-planned lessons, as well as a list of ‘Critical Friend’ questions to use during peer coaching.
Each session, one of the participants took it in turns to demonstrate a lesson as if everyone else in the room was a student. At different points, participants could ‘pause’ the lesson and ask questions, either for clarification, or to critique the lesson against the criteria. At the end of the session, all attendees would then need to choose something that they had taken from it and would try out in their own lessons.
I split the criteria up into the following areas, which are non-exhaustive and subject to very reasonable disagreement:
1.Planning and progress
3.Assessment for Learning
5.Behaviour and Engagement
6.Literacy / Basic skills
The following PowerPoint contains a breakdown of each of the criteria, as well as some guidelines on how the sessions should progress:
I also gave the participants a list of ‘Critical Friend’ questions that that could use for guidance when critiquing each others’ lessons:
If I’m honest, I probably could have done a better job at coming up with these questions, but they were only meant as a guide. David Didau has an excellent post about something similar here.
The idea is that, through either demonstrating or talking through lessons, and using a clear criteria for what a great lesson could contain, participants start to think more carefully about their own planning and start to move towards consistent planning of such lessons themselves.
There are those who might say that giving such a tight criteria for great lessons is too Ofstedish and controlled and I would often be the first to agree with them. I feel, however, that these sessions are for quite inexperienced teachers, and I think their function is to encourage a mastery of the important basics, as well as a more thoughtful attitude towards planning. This will them allow teachers, once these basics have been mastered, to be much freer in their planning.