Some Ideas about Teaching
At the risk of seeming
totally arrogant, please may I copy into this thread a post I did in a
previous thread on
lesson planning? I hope it may be
Please find by clicking
and also the
observation form, which we use at
Greenfield (the school where I am Deputy Head).
WARNING: please note that these templates are now many
years out of date. I have left them available because they illustrate
the issues, but your school should have better, more appropriate templates
They are used by all departments and every teacher. This was not enforced by
SMT, but I put them out, assured people that they contained everything they
needed to think about, and the staff feeling was: 'well, if this does it,
why re-invent the wheel?' You have to remember that, three years ago, we
were a School Facing Challenging Circumstances and we were all being
observed left, right and centre on a regular basis! Perhaps they need
updating (???) but we still use them at Greenfield and they might be at
least a starting point for you.
I do not think for a moment that teachers use them to write up every plan
for every lesson. They are, however, required for every lesson during
inspections and self-evaluations.
At Greenfield, we have a self-evaluation study every term (2 conducted by
SMT, one an intra-dept self-evaluation which must be written up and
delivered to SMT) of which lesson observations are a standard part. In
addition, every dept is required to arrange a regular self-monitoring round
of observations (most do mutual-observation on a rota basis), so lessons are
being observed frequently. If you get a staff to the point where they don't
blink when someone bowls into the classroom and watches their lesson, you
get many fewer 'disaster lessons' when Ofsted come. Most lessons in
Greenfield are now 'open door' and even unexpected visitors are welcome.
Lesson Plan sheet
is particularly useful as an aide-memoire. Staff, faced with frequent
observation, always used to complain that it was so easy to forget vital
elements. Now, even if they don't actually write it on the sheet, they can
flick their eyes over the form and 'go through the process'.
Resources is completed last, but is at the top so you can set out
your stall. It is everything that you will need for the lesson.
Teaching Objectives are your specific lesson aims - these then
translate directly across into Learning Objectives - which are the
specific things that the pupils will take from the lesson: to a degree the
criteria by which you prove that they have appropriated what you aimed to
Don't forget, esp. for an observed lesson, to specifically address a
literacy objective - and flag it up.
All that is needed for the Planned content/lesson outline is a series
of (I advise) 6-10 heads which will remind you of the different elements of
your lesson. The first one will ALWAYS be 'Introduce learning outcomes', and
the last one will ALWAYS be 'Rehearse learning (plenary)'. I always advise
inexperienced teachers, when they have written it, to go down their list and
add 'What the pupils will be doing' to each element. Often, a teacher will
devise an REALLY interesting lesson, but when they go down their list in
this way, they come up with 'listening... listening... listening...' and
there's no wonder the pupils get restless. If necessary, move around the
elements so that they introduce variety from the pupils' point of view
('listening... writing... talking to a partner... acting... discussing...').
When you have done this, use the boxes at the right to check that you have
got all the required elements (visual, auditory and kinaesthetic learning
experiences for pupils with different learning styles, and a nod at the
Literacy and Numeracy strategies) - not necessary to get every one in every
lesson, but, if you are being observed, for goodness sake make sure you do.
The 'Timings' section down the left are a rough guide only (it is ESSENTIAL
to preserve flexibility to be able to reinforce elements which pupils did
not catch-on to, or to take avenues which open up) but they will stop an
inexperienced teacher doing that old chestnut of taking too long over the
initial stages of a lesson and then screwing up the end.
The presence of a differentiation box made the staff realise that
they just didn't do this enough, or have sufficient ideas about HOW to do
it. However, the requirement to list all the SN pupils and their
difficulties at least made them look at the SN register, and it made the
observers realise that they had thought about meeting the pupils' individual
Assessment is perhaps not big enough. There are huge issues here, but
the method and criteria for assessment should inform the lesson objectives,
and, again, it made staff view the lesson as a pedagogy, not a time-filler.
And it assured the observer that the lesson had been planned as such.
The two-sided Lesson Observation
form which follows is directly related to the lesson plan, so there can be a
dialogue between lesson planning and lesson evaluation. It also is a useful
aide-memoire to the kind of lesson observers want to see.
The first side is what the observer fills in during the lesson. There is no
need here for judgements. They just tick the elements they have
observed, and jot down the relevant factual evidence/ examples/ good
practice they observed. This is vital, because it forms the evidence base
for the second side, on which the observer writes his judgements. We make it
a rule that this is done later - when the lesson is finished, the observer
should just give a generally congratulatory statement, and arrange a time
for a more formal feedback. He then writes up the judgement page, and goes
through it with the observed member of staff, citing the evidence-base to
illuminate questions and statements.
The advantage of this system for the observed member of staff is that s/he
know exactly what is being looked at, and we are finding more and more that
observer and observed agree about the lesson. This is the beginning of
Just one more thing, the rota system of mutual observation means that it's
NOT always inexperienced staff who are being observed and judged by
experienced staff. A mutual observation rota is a steep learning curve for
Posted on: Nov 26 2003,
Are Written Lesson Plans Essential?
At Greenfield we insist on full written lesson plans for
observed lessons only.
However, you've got to be careful here.
I know that - in a previous thread - other chronologically-challenged
teachers and myself have joked about making up our lessons as we walk across
the playground to the lesson, and to a degree, this is indeed true.
But I have been teaching History - and, let's face it, more-or-less the same
topics in History - for 32 years. When older teachers such as myself joke
that they 'make up' a lesson, what we actually mean is that we construct a
lesson plan by piecing together past-proven elements and strategies which we
remember and have been developing and testing for 30 years. And - if instead
of actually teaching the lesson - you asked us instead to write down the
plan of the lesson we have 'just' made up, we would be able to write down
without thinking a full lesson plan, complete with starters, literacy
element, VAK techniques, questions to ask, assessment criteria, SN
strategies personalised to individuals within the group etc. etc. ... PLUS
almost certainly examples of specific Q&A sequences, written outcomes,
pitfalls and barriers to learning from times in the past that we have done
the different elements we have selected.
I suppose what I'm trying to say is that the absence of a written
plan is not the same as - and does not excuse - the absence of a FULL lesson
The reason I first developed the
Greenfield lesson plan template form was that - when they were observed
- less experienced teachers were simply forgetting to include essential
elements and structures.
And members old enough to remember the Teachers' Book from the old
Options in History series will realise that, at one time, I DID have a
written lesson plan for EVERY lesson, differentiated for children/classes of
Lesson Plans Helpful?
Nowadays, I would tend to see written lesson plans as a hindrance, rather
than a help to good teaching, ESPECIALLY for inexperienced teachers. The
LAST thing I want to see a young teacher do is plough painfully and
inappropriately through a lesson plan which seemed OK at 11pm last night but
now, in the cold light of 9Q on a Friday afternoon, FAILS to take advantage
of development opportunities, FAILS to 'ride' interruptions, FAILS to adapt
to the fact that most of the children 'got lost off' after ten minutes and -
usually, as we all know - is trying to fit into an hour's lesson enough
material to fill the next three weeks.
(To be honest, I wonder about the wisdom of making teachers - who do not
usually work to a written lesson plan - work to a written lesson plan even
for observed lessons; unfamiliarity frequently produces DREADFUL lessons,
rather then better-than-usual ones.)
A good lesson is a developing dialogue, and not only will a good teacher
think up new ideas and elements in response to pupil responses as the lesson
progresses, but they should be quite happy for the 'conversation' to end up
at an utterly different place to that originally intended. How many of us go
into a meaningful conversation knowing where it will end at the end of the
YET HAVING SAID THIS, that is absolutely no excuse or justification for
the teacher who has been too lazy or cock-sure to develop a proper 'lesson'
before s/he sets foot in the classroom, and simply rolls up and hopes to
'wing it' from the textbook.
Thus, to the question: 'Should teachers be expected to make full lesson
plans with objectives, outcomes, starter,main and plenary plus
ECM,ICT,SEN,literacy and numeracy for every lesson they teach', my answer
If you asked me: 'Should every lesson plan be written down on a formal
lesson plan template form?', however, I think I would say equally firmly:
Planning a Proper Lesson
So we are left with the question: 'How can a teacher produce a full lesson
plan without writing it down on a formal lesson plan template form?'
Here, I think the answer for the 'day-to-day' lesson would be a 'Checklist
of elements', against which a teacher could jot down (or at least mentally
check) their ideas for what the lesson might involve. That way, they will go
into the lesson properly prepared, but without the lesson-plan
straightjacket which hinders proper flexibility of delivery.
What should be in such a check list?
Well, of course, the reason I developed the Greenfield lesson plan template
form was to try to ensure that observed teachers would not forget anything!
So, following the template down, I think I would go for a checklist which
1. What resources will the lesson need and have you assembled them all?
2. Where is the pupils' learning on this after last lesson; does the content
and skills of this lesson take them seamlessly to the next step?
3. What therefore are your key teaching objectives for this lesson?
4. Have you translated these key teaching objectives into 'pupil-speak'
'Learning outcomes' which you will write on the board for them at the start
of the lesson?
5. Have you formulated a literacy (and, where appropriate, a numeracy and a
6. What is your starter going to be?
7. What are the 4/5 'element-activities' of your lesson? How long would you
initially intend to allocate to each element-activity? Have you looked at
the sequence of element-activities from the pupils' point of view to make
sure that they are getting a 'variety-of-fare' as the lesson progresses?
8. Make sure your element-activities include 'Visual-learner' and
'Kinaesthetic-learner' teaching strategies.
9. Who are the SN pupils in your class, and have you fully planned-in
differentiation strategies to meet each and all of their special needs?
10. Who are the G&T pupils in your class, and have you fully planned-in
differentiation strategies to fully stretch them and move them on - in
particular, have you properly thought-out work for them to go on to if they
11. How are you going to assess the pupils' progress as the lesson
progresses; particularly, what are you going to do in the plenary?
12. Have you organised a properly-planned homework?
I do not think you have to write down what you are going to do in the
lesson, but I would say categorically that if a teacher goes into any lesson
without all twelve of these issues not explicitly addressed in his/her plan
for that lesson, they are short-changing the children, and are failing to
meet their professional obligations.
(I would be interested if any members think I have missed anything of
importance out of the list.)
Posted on: Sep 30 2006, 11:35 AM