As educators, we are constantly being encouraged to attend professional development and to learn and grow from sessions attended. However, more often than not, after attending a session that lingering question remains: how should one go about implementing the approach one has just learned about in one’s classroom? Although the supplemental resources that might have been provided may look amazing and inspiring, the reality is that they are not usually able to slide into one’s lessons quite as easily as one had hoped because a mental shift in how you deliver lessons must first be resolved. That said, although it may seem like a difficult task, weaving a new approach into one’s lessons can easily be done and all that is required is a slight adjustment to the planner one is using.
For the purpose of this article, let’s keep things simple and imagine that the planning template you are currently using looks a little something like the generic one below, which covers the basics – outcomes, lesson ideas and materials.
Now imagine that you have recently attended a workshop on a new approach to teaching reading, and it’s one that you would like to weave throughout your lessons across multiple subject areas. If one stuck to using the above template, one may remember to include elements of the approach in certain lessons, and one may flip through the provided materials and slide a worksheet or activity in here or there, but over time the commitment to follow the approach may wane as it becomes an afterthought when planning lessons. However, if one redesigns the template to include spaces to think about the approach, the elements that are included in it, and how to incorporate it into one’s lessons, it can change the way one’s lessons are delivered so that it matches the new approach learned consistently and across all subject areas, as shown below in the modified template.
In the simple addition of a column that requires one to name the approach, list the criteria of the approach in the form of a checklist and require one to explain how elements will be incorporated into one’s lessons, and suddenly the new approach is no longer an afterthought as there is a constant reminder that one needs to incorporate it into every lesson one teaches. This is but one way a reminder of a new approach could be woven into one’s lesson plans, although a checklist may not be the way you wish to go and this is fine. As long as you make an adjustment to your planner in some way that ensures you have incorporated the newly learned approach into your lessons, you will be well on your way to transforming your classes!
Attending professional development can have a major impact on how you deliver lessons, and learning about/incorporating new approaches into one’s planning doesn’t have to be an overwhelming task. Simply take a look at your current planning template and make a few adjustments to ensure you remain on track and consistent with the changes you’d like to make in your classroom!
Feel like you might need some extra support in modifying your planners to match the approach you would like to incorporate? Contact us, we are always happy to help!
Within the field of education, ideologies and teaching methods are in constant flux, and an idea that is hot one day can be abruptly out the next. Why? Because educators often like the sounds of a new idea, they will take the time to read about it and join discussion groups, but its actual implementation won’t last long if they can’t understand how it works. If you’ve put the time and effort into developing new educational concepts this can be quite frustrating. So how do you avoid this common pitfall and ensure that your ideas are not only talked about now, but also that they last over time? By following these easy tips below when putting together your materials.
Define Your Terms
First things first: consider adding a glossary of terms to your resources. In order for the new terminology you have coined to stick, educators will need to have a concrete understanding of what you mean by them, otherwise confusion and frustration may arise, which could result in teachers simply giving up on your ideas.
Include an Educational Framework
If you would like your ideas to be implemented within a whole school and become part of its foundation long term, including a sample framework of how this could be done for administrators/coordinators is extremely helpful. For more information on different types of Educational Frameworks, see:
What is an Educational Framework?
The Tool Successful Companies Use That Schools Need
Designing an Educational Framework
Going Global With Your Educational Idea
Creative Ways to Share an Educational Framework
Though your tips and suggestions may be well laid out, it can be difficult for teachers to incorporate them into their lessons without actual planners to refer to; therefore, it’s a good idea to include different concrete samples of how to apply your ideas in the classroom. For example, if you would like teachers to include a certain way of approaching math concepts, add a few different planning templates outlining how long each activity should take, how to organize lessons so there is a logical flow etc. That way, after reading your book, or attending your PD, they have something concrete to follow. For tips on designing and implementing planners, see:
How to Use Planners as a Tool for Mentoring Teachers
Tips for Personalizing Planners at Your School
Using Planners to Change Mindset
Different Planning Solutions for Your School
Creating a Collaborative Planning Template
Keep Your Planning Tools Fresh
Lastly, in order to ensure your ideas transcend time, continuously changing and updating the planning tools you provide will not only help you to remain current, but will also assist educators in incorporating new ideas being introduced within the field of education and encourage professional growth/development.
These are but a few ways to help ensure that the approach and methodology that you would like to see implemented at schools or in the classroom remain a staple for years to come! Have any other suggestions you would like to share? We’d love to hear them!
The art of transdisciplinary planning requires that teachers view subject areas as part of an integrated whole versus separate blocks, which is easier said than done for most. Whether you are asking others on your team to plan this way, or you are being asked yourself, there are a few things you can do to help implement this line of thinking.
Firstly, although it’s important to calculate how many hours each subject area must be taught throughout the year, consider creating a second more open version of your timetable. For example, your more traditional timetable may look something like this:
A second more flexible version may help your team or yourself to see blocks of time as integrated wholes vs separate blocks, as in the modified timetable below:
Using the second timetable as a frame of reference to start planning from changes the way subjects are viewed, from separate to whole, as blocks of time are not referred to singly but lumped together so one can visually understand that when planning for a day; for example, on Monday a mainstream teacher has 3 hours to integrate Language Arts, Math and Science outcomes and lessons together. As for the specialist Art teacher, they are encouraged to view their subject area not only as “Art” but “Art” mixed with other subject areas. This is but one way the timetabling could be done – whether for your team or yourself, you can be thinking about which subjects to place on which days to create different combinations of integrated subject area “learning blocks”.
A second thing you can do to encourage transdisciplinary planning is to rethink the planners you are using. While traditional planners tend to focus on single subject areas in single time blocks, consider developing a lesson planner that integrates subject areas, like the one below that was designed for a mainstream teacher:
This day planner was kept very general to give an idea of what one could look like. Creating a format like the one above allows your team or yourself to view specific lessons as an interwoven combination of several different subject areas, ensuring that transdisciplinary planning is occurring at the highest levels. To take things a step further, if the mainstream teacher and the Art teacher collaborate and share plans, the Art teacher can integrate some of the outcomes being covered in the Math, Language Arts and Science “learning blocks” into their lesson.
These are a but a few tips to help guide you; if you are working at an IB school and would like to explore other ideas for transdisciplinary planning, see the following articles:
The Transdisciplinary Framework
How to Run Your IB Planning Meetings Like a Boss Using a Transdisciplinary Framework
The Transdisciplinary Planners
Feel like you may need further guidance? Contact us! We are always happy to help!