How I plan


1. How do I plan?

I don't really have a formula for long-term planning as such but I tend to do so using a combination, of the following:

/ Plan backwards from A-Level: what will they need to have covered at GCSE? So what will they need to have covered in Y9? And so on.

/ Plan based on what's interesting and appropriate.

/ Plan chronologically.

/ Plan using knowledge, not skills.

/ Leg my current historical reading guide me.

This can be a little convoluted but it's how I think in the longer term.

Lesson by lesson my approach is very different, however. Because, as Bodil Isaksen wrote, a lesson is the wrong unit of time I tend to plan in terms of building knowledge over two to three hours. If it takes a little longer then so be it. Because I'm an historian I like students to write a lot so, at KS3 at least, I give opportunities to write up findings at the end of each section. This then leads to longer essays later on.

2. When/where do you plan?

In secret.

Seriously, I find it really hard to plan with some one else. I also plan at really inopportune times like at a friend's for dinner, at a meeting about anything at all or just before I'm about to cause a motorway pile-up.

I once planned an entire year's work for Y9 over a couple of days at a cafe in Amsterdam. I was supposed to be on holiday.

3. Which parts of the planning process generate the most value for you?

Undoubtedly getting to find out more about my own subject and reflecting on the successes and weakness of the last time I taught something.

4. Have we got planning right?

No. Too often to we're concerned about activities. We chunk knowledge into these easily digestible but misconception-laden packages which offer students so little time and space to develop understanding: we are content-deliverers of knowledge as a commodity.

Knowledge should drive planning. Everything else should follow.

Author Profile

Toby French

Toby French

History teacher.

65 stories


Peps McCrea Peps McCrea @pepsmccrea 2 years ago
Really refreshing to hear you talk about learning new stuff about your subject when you plan. When this stops happening things change...
Toby French Toby French @mrhistoire 2 years ago
Was discussing next year with my new dept on Tuesday and both agreed that we have to be interested and learning as well. If not we become sedentary. It's not about change for change's sake but allowing new knowledge to shape the way we plan, teach and think.
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