Get in the car
Your driving instructor comes to you. This is so obvious you probably haven’t thought about the implications of this. When she wants to introduce a new piece of information, she will tell you. She won’t know how much she will cover in the lesson, because she will need to assess how you progress as you go. To tell you everything you are going to learn in the lesson wouldn’t just waste time, it would, in a good lesson, also be wrong!
What are the implications for schools? Well, teachers should move to the classroom, and students should stay put. That is out of your control, but I point it out to show that in terms of beginning your lesson, you are already on the back foot. Learning time has been wasted before your class even arrive.
Now, are you really going to ask them to line up outside your room?
Can you really not get them learning from the moment they enter your room? You can if there is a quiz as they enter. You can still line them up silently at their desks while you do so, your reputation as a disciplinarian safely intact.
If writing down learning objectives helps learning, why don’t driving instructors make you do it?
Are you really going to waffle about some differentiated learning objectives or, even more time wasting, get students to write them down?
No, just get them straight to the first task and crack on. Then introduce the first bit of new learning. Watch them carefully to find out how much practice they need. Then introduce something new. Then get them to use both bits of information together. Then add a third. Just like a driving lesson.
Driving instructors don’t try to engage you. You are paying for rapid progress.
Imagine a driving lesson with an engaging starter.
“What do you think Lewis Hamilton does as a training routine in the week before a Grand Prix? Discuss this with a partner, and feedback to the class in two minutes time.”
“Here are three cars which you can buy on a budget of £16,000. Which one do you think has the best value?”
“List five things the transport minister must do before we can introduce electric cars as all new vehicles.”
All these are fascinating. None of them will teach you to drive.
So it is in the classroom. Engagement comes from the right amount of challenge so that you feel you are getting better at driving. In other words, you want a sense of mastery, to see what it looks like, and to measure your progress against that ideal.
So your lesson needs to begin straight away, checking what your students can still remember, and introducing the right challenges at the right time. Practice them, and then introduce something new.
When looked at this way, there is no lesson plan. You will notice the planning sequence goes like this:
- I have thought out the ideal sequence to teach everything in the whole curriculum for the year (or if you like, a sequence of 30 lessons, like a driving instructor)
- I will keep testing my students on what I have already taught them, in the same lessons where I am also teaching them something new.
- I will keep going back to things that the student can’t do, and then I will move forward to the next part of the sequence.
- My sequence (the curriculum) stays the same for every learner, regardless of ability. It is just the amount of practice that changes.