The Old Way of Collaborative Planning
- We had program "experts" who wrote particular aspects of our shared program, say History.
- The expert wrote the program, prepared resources and organised assessments.
- Each week at a meeting the expert communicated the lessons that were coming up to the rest of the team.
- Everyone had to do this for their designated program area. We switched the areas around each term.
- We only had one real area for which we needed to program
- This shared the load amongst the team
- Teachers could play to their strengths
- Only the expert had real ownership of the program. Teachers tended to "coast" in their non-expert areas and put effort in when teaching the program area for which they were responsible
- It's quite hard to divide the curriculum "evenly" so the load is shared fairly
- We had issues with assessments. What sounded like a good idea during discussions could turn out to be challenging in terms of implementation or marking
The New Way of Collaborative Planning
We decided to change the focus of our "meeting" time. Some teachers in the team had experienced another way of programming where the whole team had input into all programs. We decided to try it with just one program, a unit that integrated Science, Geography and Writing. We started by working out our Learning Intention for the unit, What we wanted students to be able to Know, Understand and Do and our Learning Destination (read assessment). This is how we usually start a unit, but this time we did it together. We came up with an overview for the unit outlining what we expected to get up to each week.
Every week, sometimes more than once, we talk about where we're up to in the unit and what we believe should come next. We decide who will prepare resources, someone updates the written program and we are able to modify or change direction based on how the students are learning. Everyone has input into what comes next. Teachers get a chance to ask clarifying questions and really dig down to understand lessons / content / learning activities. We also share ideas about how to teach lessons, not just content and tasks. This is proving to be one of the most valuable aspects of this process. Teachers are helping each other become better teachers.
- All teachers have a sense of ownership of the program and are more engaged
- All teachers have input into the program. They can use their strengths, experience and expertise to benefit the whole team
- The load is still shared
- Teaching is more responsive to the needs of the learners
- Talking about how to teach, not just content
- This method takes time
- It requires commitment from the whole team