Planning; lessons, day plans, weekly plans and units of work

Transforming My Documentation (2011)

Throughout my second professional experience, the way I thought about observing, planning, implementing, and reflecting in my work has transformed dramatically.

Throughout my first semester and my individual days during my second semester;

  • Doing observations of children was more a task of filling in the boxes, rather than watching and gaining meaning from children’s experiences.
  • I spent much of my time writing lesson plans, which were only loosely based on my observations and the group’s interests.
  • Reflection seemed like a punishment that visited me at the end of each day.

Although throughout my block practicum (Sem 2, 2011), I had many discussions with my Associate Educator and Directors, which led me to question my thinking and methods.

New insights

An idea that arose from these discussions was; there is no instruction manual on how be an EC Teacher. So despite all the proformas and other forms, there is no one correct way of doing things. This led me to thinking that if the way I’m doing things now isn’t working, than it needs to change. Simple as that. So over my block practicum, I slowly adapted my old methods, to suit my needs, the needs of my Associate Educator and the children in our care. In doing so I was also making my work more meaningful and useful to me.

At first, I took my observations per usual, and typed them up at the end of each day. Although my observations sometimes formed the basis of my plans, most of the time they proved very unuseful. When speaking to my Associate Educator, she said that she was also in a transition period of changing her methods. Together we decided that instead of making more work for ourselves, our observations should be used as the daily diary, simplified and shortened. With this change alone, my observations were becoming useful, and a good basis for the next day’s plans.

Next we spoke about how linking a few interconnected diaries, forms a good foundation for writing our learning stories for children’s portfolios. Once again this cut out a lot of extra work, and meant that our daily diaries were becoming more useful again. As we all know much of the time, most parents will not look at the diary you put out, and when they do all they do is scan for a picture of their child.

Within our learning stories, was a section on further development or exploration. Immediately this can be seen as your section for planning and programming. From these ideas of exploration, from each child’s learning stories, you have a program for the next week. This method that we had come up with, streamlined the process of observation to program, and made each step meaningful and worthwhile. This process had also cut out a lot of time spent in the programming room, away from the children, and not in the classroom where you really needed to be.

Along with this new system of documentation, I also remodeled a reflective practice model, a learning story model, a program model, and lesson plan format. With these in place, much of the time I spent attached to my laptop, was freed up to spend with the children.

Further insights

These methods were adapted once again when I began my Preschool prac at a beginning IB PYP school. The IB PYP method is an inquiry approach to learning that is shaped by the central idea of the unit and the lines of inquiry. To learn more take a look at the webpage here.

Throughout this practicum I had the chance to use this planning model and discuss it with the school teachers and IB PYP experts in PD sessions. To see more about my IB PYP unit of work click here. While I have always been drawn to the inquiry approach, I found at the end of this placement I felt the IB PYP was too regimented and extremely complicated to plan. Whilst I acknowledge their approach I feel like it’s just not the approach for me.

In my first two primary aged pracs (year 3/4 and year 6) I encountered a rather traditional primary planning approach, with unit plans completed before the term had commenced and little room for adjustment. Whilst I followed these with ease and enjoyment, I felt like this was not the kind of planning I wanted to implement in my own classroom.

Even more learning

Finally in my internship, I joined at year 2 class in an EC school. At this school they employed a play based, emergent curriculum in their P-2 classes. I had always loved the concept of play-based learning in the primary years and this school implemented it fantastically in ‘investigations’ (an hour each day to lead their own fortnightly inquiries based on the materials provided).

In terms of unit plans the science and history plans were completed and ready before the term began, although the English, Maths and PE were left far more open. The teachers had a scope for for they wanted completed in the term but no specific sequence. E.g. In term three the teacher wanted to explore persuasive texts in English including advertisements, debates and other written persuasive texts. Other than this outline, plans were left to a fortnightly plan depending on student needs and interest. I felt really comfortable and happy with this type of planning as I did not feel too overwhelmed with the planning process itself and I felt like it was flexible and adaptable enough to fit the children’s needs.

My planning

In my future classroom I will definitely use a similar approach to that of my internship at the EC school. I believe a flexible, adaptable learning plan that fits both the curriculum and the students’ needs is ideal.

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