Things I Wish Were Different About Teaching: Number 5 Not having to document everything I do in a day

While planning is immensely important to ensure certain things are in place and that everything is being covered, I think most educational institutions require teachers to do this on an excessive scale.

During my PGCE I was lead to believe that as you became more proficient as a teacher, you could teach good lessons with less and less planning. In reality I was required to document everything I did in the most minute detail, for checking by senior management, and for use when I was away.

I have never seen anyone teach a good lesson with a piece of paper in front of them with a plan on it. I have also never seen anyone memorise 2 pages worth of things to include in a lesson. I frequently struggled to remember to do everything that I had actually written down. ­­­­­­­As I simplified the message I wanted to get across each lesson, my teaching and the learning improved.

Why write everything down then if it just doesn’t get used? Is it not a very negative thing to have reams of things written down that are just not actually getting delivered in the lesson?

Often the very first thing that happens when there are concerns about a teacher is that they are asked to increase the detail of their planning, and it is all checked. Why is planning seen as such a holy grail? Is it not what actually happens in the lesson that matters?

I can’t think of any other career that has to document everything that is done in this way, save for an actor’s lines in a script. If education continues to go down the ‘planning is everything’ route, I can honestly see this happening in schools.

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