A ‘messy’ school year full of experimentation and a developing pedagogy leads to an inevitable conclusion. . . . what next? School policy answer – Schemes of Work!
They are a requirement at many levels of management, application and structure. Schemes of work provide a framework for the year and a fall back for dealing with unforeseen circumstance. Students use them to highlight knowledge ‘gaps’, teachers use them to plan in advance and leadership refers to them when called upon – Ofsted? The basic structure serves as an excellent reference for topics and will always exist. Therefore, they must be completed and reflect the teaching year ahead.
There is a problem. It was relatively simple to adhere to a yearly course when delivering content through a variety of mediums. Students could be fairly sure of the lesson structure and the teacher could follow a comfortable pattern. Lesson ideas could be listed and tweaked so existing documents remained relevant. With the iPad and the ‘flipped‘ classroom concept, things aren’t so easy to construct.
The content driven screencasts, that the students will watch at home, are neat and fit scheme of work logic. Unfortunately, that is where the structure ends. I want my lessons to be varied and relevant. I want the students to contribute to pace and direction. AFL will lead me to modified questioning and feedback. So what should I put in the scheme of work?
I am aware that it is a working document to be added to throughout the year. However, I don’t intend to use it the following year so what would be the point? I could just list the topics to be covered and suggest general applications and methodology to be used but that feels like paperwork with no purpose. Is it therefore acceptable to have the syllabus as a scheme of work with a few pointers? This certainly wouldn’t help a head of department setting emergency cover work and doesn’t meet the demands of school policy and paperwork requirements. I want to be able to change the lesson before, during and after because it feels right, not because a piece of paper tells me to.
Please don’t misconstrue my intention. There will be a scheme of work and it will meet school policy. I just don’t think I will refer to it very often. The wider implication is that, with content delivery outside the classroom, lessons will be ‘messy’ (with thanks to @jamesmichie). I require the flexibility for lessons to go wrong and not to be too concerned. I am sure leadership would be comfortable with this in principle. Unfortunately, that isn’t represented by observation requirements with formal judgement and this may hinder the approach. Significantly, if I am concerned about the evaluation procedure how can I expect other staff to try different techniques?
Of course I want lessons to go wrong because it means I will be guided by the learners. The iPad will allow for flexibility in the classroom and provide personalised learning opportunities. The teacher will still be the most important part of the students’ education albeit with a different role. The developing pedagogy is exciting and a little unnerving but appears preferable to my students.
I will continue to adhere to policy in hope that it will, in time, reflect the changing nature of education. Learning will be the driver in the classroom even if the paperwork sometimes disguises it.
(Caveat: In part this post reflects a debate followed on the TES website and my current concern over the content of department schemes of work.)