Collaborative planning and teaching

A way to save time and deliver the best teaching and learning?

The context

Collaborative planning actually started to happen in my department as a result of my need to up-skill in IT. I opened up my department meetings to contributions from our technology specialist, which led to contributions from other members of the team, and before we knew it, we had jointly planned a scheme of work for teaching music technology to Year 9. We embarked upon a process of mutual observation to make sure we were delivering the content in the most effective and engaging way. We made notes and adjusted our lesson plans, resources and assessment materials at the end of each half term. The results were brilliant: we worked as a team, an environment of trust and respect was built through mutual observation and feedback, time saved on individual planning has been substantial, and the results are excellent teaching and learning.

We have carried this process through to a new scheme of work for Year 10.

Joint planning

My team plans the scheme of work and general lesson content collaboratively, discussing specific teaching and learning aspects we wish to incorporate (retrieval, spaced practice etc.) and what we expect pupils to have learnt at the end of each half term.

Individual planning

We each plan a short sequence of lessons (maintains teacher autonomy – a key objection to collaborative teaching practice). Currently we divide up the weeks into odds and evens and plan alternating weeks (this could easily be adapted). The main concepts and terminology have already been mapped out as part of our joint planning, so we have creative freedom to plan these according to our professional judgment and teaching style. It is fascinating to teach a sequence of lessons planned by a colleague and to see how they do things differently – it’s given me loads of ideas for my own teaching.

Teach Observe

We observe where possible (sometimes we teach each others’ classes) and note the feedback/improvements to be made. We keep all of these notes in a folder ready to be adapted for the following year of teaching. Feedback improves the teaching and learning for every class in the year group, not just the single class of a single class teacher – maximum impact.

Assess and Evaluate

After a summative assessment at the end of the unit we compare pupils’ test results and our individual mark books. What have we taught well? What aspects have pupils struggled to get to grips with? What circumstances, that we can account for, may have affected the data? We look for misconceptions and lack of understanding and make a note to cover these concepts again later in the scheme of work. We look at how we can improve our teaching for the next year group when they embark upon this unit of work.

Why I think collaborative planning and teaching is great:

  • Consistency of content
  • Sense of team
  • New teachers learn from experienced colleagues
  • Experienced colleagues learn fresh ideas from new teachers
  • Sharing of individual strengths, weaknesses supported
  • T&L concepts – embeds understanding, common approach
  • Saves time
  • The results – outstanding teaching and learning

Considerations

  • Making time for planning meetings
  • Classes need to be covering the same content at roughly the same pace
  • A willingness to share ideas 

Do you use collaborative planning in your department?

Are there any additional processes you would add?

What would prevent you implementing this in your school context?

I’d love to hear your thoughts.

Published by Victoria Hughes Ed Blog

Head of Academic Music and EPQ, Bradfield College, Interested in teaching and learning, professional development, collaborative planning, lesson study and education research.

2 thoughts on “Collaborative planning and teaching

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