Thursday, February 18, 2010

With apologies to Jessica Hagy


I'm in the midst of a wonderful February break and I've devoted at least two full days to planning and preparing stuff. At one point I sat there and wondered, "When is this supposed to get easier?" I remember my first year I'd be up all night planning and scraping through every day. Now? I'm still up all night planning. It's not that panicky, "Oh crap, I don't know what I'm doing tomorrow," kind of planning anymore, but I also don't feel like I'm saving any time. It took me a second to figure it out and since it's assessment-related, it ends up with a blog post.

Here's a drawing of the relationship between what I planned to teach and what I actually taught in my first year. Sorry for the messy handwriting. Now you know why I don't teach first grade.
Everything that I planned got taught. I was like a train going down a track.

Year two went something like this:

I understood that problems arose so I planned for a little more. There would be stuff I wouldn't use that were just-in-case things.  I'd have to improvise a little when an interesting question came up or we got stuck in a place I didn't anticipate.

Now it's more like this:
A ton of planning still. But each period tends to get a better target of what they need. I use more formal and informal choice points. I actually use my assessment results to guide my teaching (a future "I"m already doing that" post). In general the first day of a unit starts off fairly similar and then each day starts to diverge. We start to converge again towards the end but usually don't hit the end mark on the exact same day.

What does the future hold?

I wasn't interested in drawing 140 different circles but clearly the more I can individualize the better. I also want to move away from, "I plan. You do." I'm trying to move towards, "Let's create a plan together." With hopefully the final goal of, "Here's your goal, create a plan to get there."

Final note:
This is actually one of the things that really scares the teachers at my school. The ideas that:

  1. Each period might not be doing the same thing on the same day.
  2. Each student might not be doing the same thing on the same day.
  3. You might not know what you're doing on Thursday until you see how Wednesday goes.
It's not even the work that really scares them, it's the uncertainty.

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