Every summer it is the same. Endless streams of teachers plan their schemes of work. They plan every second and every space in a series of lessons to microscopic detail. I have seen pristine booklets produced to support the SOW (I am now going to abbreviate from now on) and they have lovingly produced memory-stick bursting PowerPoints to support each lesson. I have seen the military detail that teachers have planned lessons weeks in advance of the term starting. Right, it is week 4 so in the third minute the students must be completing the card sort that links to the lesson in week 2 and week 8.
I plan. I write plans and for years I have written SOWs. Each new topic has its own SOW typed and planned by me and my fingers. I know what I am going to do and when I am going to do it. However, each year the same thing happens. I get to about lesson two and I realise that everything needs changing. The resource I spent four days laminating are not needed, because I could cover it in one sentence in a lesson. The work producing a SOW does not seem proportional to the time saved. I can guarantee there are teachers out there who have spent days writing a SOW, and if they were stubborn like me, they will teach them irrespective of the fact they don’t work.
This year my department are trying something new. We have tried an approach recommended to me by a friend and I am indebted to them for this idea. We have transformed our SOWs and turned them into ‘Learning Journeys’. The problem with having SOWs in department is that you need to have billions of the things for everything to be covered in a department. Each year group might have a number of sets. Each year group will have a number of topics. The list of SOWs needed then doubles and quadruples. This then further changes when new curriculums are introduced or the exams are revised.
A teacher’s role often is to provide a narrative to the learning. Or, simply an order of aspects to learn. The beauty of the Learning Journey is that the narrative is up to the teacher, but the content is the same between staff. I teach differently to other people in the department I am in, yet this way I can enable the department to have the same points of learning. There can be some form of consistency. Too many times have I junked whole aspects of a SOW, because it didn’t make sense to me or how I want to sequence a lesson.
Thanks for reading,