A short post (rant) on ‘checking’ lesson plans
I heard a few months ago from a colleague that I worked with that, at their new school, all teachers had to submit a full set of lesson plans, a week in advance, to a member of the school’s Leadership Team for checking. Every week. Every teacher. Every lesson.
Although appalled by this, I thought it was an isolated ‘incident’-a LT that had forgotten what was really important-and forgot about it. Until a twitter conversation that I was involved in over the weekend.
It would appear that there are still a number of schools out there who require staff to submit lesson plans for ‘checking’ by middle or senior leaders. Some unfortunate colleagues have to upload their plans onto the school’s servers by the Sunday before the school week starts or submit the following week’s plans on a Friday. Every week. Every teacher. Every lesson.
This is quite a shocking state of affairs and one that saddens me greatly.
That is not to say that I do not expect teachers to plan lessons-as a HT who still teaches I am fully aware of the need to plan lessons properly and I expect all teachers to plan their lessons. How they plan their lessons is up to them and I’m not about to start checking that they are. The seeming obsession that some schools have to ensure that their staff are slavishly planning lessons in great detail worries me.
It would appear that some schools trust their staff so little that they require them to submit their plans a week in advance. Regardless of the fact that you couldn’t send a clearer message to your teachers that you don’t trust them, I would ask simply what the purpose of this exercise is-how is this improving the quality of teaching and learning in your school?
For example, I teach my GCSE History class three times a week. In our department there is an excellent scheme of work and my planning revolves around the key points/messages that I want to get across in the next lesson. I could tell you what my plans are for tomorrow’s lesson but not for the lessons on Wednesday and Thursday. That’s because I don’t really know. I have a rough idea of where we’ll be and what we are covering but I can’t really plan for these lessons until I teach tomorrow’s lesson and see where we get at the end. I think that this is effective planning.
Handing in lesson plans for every lesson in advance is illogical and pointless. I cannot think of one way that this exercise improves the quality of teaching and learning and, more importantly, think it smacks of adding a significant workload to an already stretched workforce. In a time of teacher shortages and a need for more people to enter the profession, why do some leaders think that the way to retain staff is to trust them so little?
Surely as leaders in schools we have more to worry about than checking the lesson plans of every member of staff in our schools?
We need to trust our teachers to plan in the way that they see fit and let them get on with it. We are professionals and we should behave as such- trust our staff to deliver great lessons and plan in the way they see fit.
If you have an issue with an individual member of staff then fine, you should maybe have a conversation about planning. You may even plan a lesson together to model expectations about the thinking behind planning effective lessons. That is good practice. Checking everyone’s plans is not. Worry about supporting your staff to make your school the best it can be, not checking their lesson plans.