I am very much a believer in certain principles, which to me are evidence of good leadership:
The WORM Principle
This acronym stands for Write Once Read Many, and originally applied to CDs I believe. I think the principle can be applied much more widely, though. Why the need to do the same thing several times? Why reinvent wheels? In the context of lesson preparation, I think it makes perfect sense to (a) use a lesson plan template, as discussed on Day 14, and (b) for everyone in the team to deposit a copy of each lesson plan they create to a common area.
The latter will happen naturally if units of work are delegated, as suggested on Day 2. But even if that doesn’t happen, it is sensible for the team to start building up a resource bank of lesson plans and associated resources.
It saves work because in many cases it’s easier to start with something than starting from scratch. So if I draft a lesson plan and you create another lesson plan based on it, there are now two lesson plans on the same topic from which others can choose, or from which we ourselves can choose when we come to teach the topic again.
Share and share alike
I don’t think people should work in silos, especially if they’re on the same team. Sharing lesson plans not only saves time, but also helps colleagues see different aspects of the same topic. You can look at a colleague’s lesson plan, compare it to your own, and see something you hadn’t thought of.
Sharing need not be confined to the finished product. Why not use a wiki to share the process of creating lessons? I don’t think this is always appropriate, because the process takes time, and you may not always have that luxury. But it’s certainly worth trying.
When I was Head of ICT, I used to ask my colleagues to always prepare an extra lesson on the topic, which could be used in a contingency situation. The lesson had to be a stand-alone activity, so that it could be used by a cover teacher without her having to understand everything that had gone before.
My thinking was as follows. When a teacher is out of school, nine times out of ten the work set for the youngsters is irrelevant, and designed purely to keep them quiet. I wanted to build up a bank of activities which were meaningful, interesting, useful and which would not disrupt the flow of the work.
But I don’t have a team!
If, like many ICT Co-ordinators, you don’t have a team because you’re the sole teacher of ICT in your school, these principles still apply, but in a different way. I suggest the following:
- Build up your own lesson bank. You can do that by creating an area where copies of each of your lesson plans is stored, and even drafts of lesson plans: why lose those half-formed thoughts? They may come in handy in the future.
- Join a community of other teachers in a similar position. I’ll be saying more about this later in the series, but one thing you might do straight away is start collaborating with another local school or two.
- Have a trawl around the Teacher Resource Exchange, or any similar sites you’re aware of. It contains lots of great ideas, and everything there is for sharing. You may like to contribute your own.
As often is the case, none of this can be achieved in its entirety in the 15 minutes I’ve suggested you spend each day on the articles in this series. However, what you CAN do is the following:
- Have a common area set up as a repository for lesson plans.
- Have a look at the Teachers’ Resource Exchange to see if there is anything you can make use of immediately.
- Start talking to your colleagues about the feasibility of producing one extra lesson each for the sake of contingency planning.
I knew there was something else I wanted to say! And reading Doug Woods' comments on the Day 15 post has reminded me. I think another important principle is consistency. That doesn't mean that everyone's lessons have to be the same, but should at least address certain issues or contain similar elements, and plans should be consistent in order to make it possible for people to use each other's.n Hence my advocating the use of templates, as long as adhering to the template doesn't become an end in itself: flexibility is always required.