Why Term 4 is too late to start planning

  • 6 minute read
  • 10 August 2022

Planning is a massive part of teaching, it takes up a big portion of time and energy, which can make it a daunting task. Especially in Term 3 when everything is a bit of a frenzy. We are already trying to squeeze in all of the curriculum work while also facilitating incursions, excursions, school sports and productions. It’s sometimes easier to put our heads down and just focus on getting things done but without planning it’s easy to get lost in the busyness of the term and forget to look ahead at what’s to come.

Good planning is more than writing out some tasks and assigning simple deadlines. It needs to incorporate reflection, evaluation, research and align with our short and long-term goals. Planning is important because it creates a strong direction for the future and can expand our teaching and learning options so we can positively influence the classroom. So the more time we leave for planning the longer we have to consider the best path forward and make informed decisions. 

When thinking about what’s to come in the new year, it’s common not to worry about it until Term 4, which makes sense as there is still so much to achieve between now and then. But it’s important to consider when the best time to start planning is so we allow ourselves and our team enough time to facilitate in-depth planning, decision making, implementation, and explore the impact. Especially when selecting the classroom resources that will support teaching and influence student learning. 

So what should be considered when planning for next year?

1. A great way to start planning is to reflect on the past year

Create time to ask yourself, your team, and even your students reflection questions to measure your progress against where you thought you would be sitting. This time can help uncover insights, challenges and opportunities to improve current strategies.

Here are some questions to start with

  • What worked in your classroom and provided the results to show this? 
  • What didn’t make the impact you were hoping for or support the goals you set? 
  • What was missing from your teacher toolkit that could have elevated your lessons and helped manage your workload? 
  • How do your students feel about their progress for the year? 
  • Does your class attitude sit closer to a growth or fixed mindset?

Research tells us that reflection sessions not only allow us to look back but also initiate the opportunity for teachers to verbalise their plans for the future, imagine expected outcomes, explore possibilities whilst also engaging in active and meaningful decision-making, problem definition, exploration, and evaluation. This kind of in-depth analysis exposes the red flags that we could have easily missed in our resources, decision making and processes if we moved straight into deciding the actions to be taken next year. 

Reflecting on our progress is important but it’s just as important to allow enough time to do this. We all have good intentions when it comes to achieving everything on our to-do list but we know this doesn’t always happen, especially when we don’t carve out the right amount of time. So when setting space aside in your diary give yourself a bit of extra time and take the pressure off so you can deepdive into what’s really been happening over the past year. 

2. Evaluate the resources, capabilities & staff capacity you have at your disposal

Every teacher wants to offer their students the most impactful learning experience possible and do their best to achieve this, but meeting the needs of every student while also prioritising personal wellbeing can be a lot for one person to take on. So it’s necessary to be realistic about what we can achieve in the new year, how to maximise what we currently have available to us and what resources we could bring on board for extra support.

Research indicates that the right resources support the achievement of goals while also reducing the negative impact of work demands, stimulating growth and personal development. Findings also suggested that sufficient resources support teaching duties acting to improve work engagement and reduce stress levels. 

So an important step to take is setting simple, clear, and achievable objectives so we can clearly see which resources align with our plans and then uncover the gaps that need to be filled in our teacher toolkit. 

So what do you plan to achieve or implement in the new year? Check out some example goals below. 

  • Offer every student personalised learning
  • Allocate more one-on-one time with students 
  • Foster stronger relationships
  • Create a classroom environment that celebrates creativity and supports deep learning
  • Improve growth rates and student engagement
  • Get 8 hours of sleep each night and aim to have a manageable workload

Don’t forget to set aside the right amount of time to outline your goals, consider your classroom resources, and evaluate their ability to be impactful in the classroom. 

3. Take time to research your options 

By this point in the planning process, we have taken the time to properly reflect, set goals, evaluate our resources and outline the gaps we need to fill. So now is the perfect time to start researching the best classroom practices, resources and strategies that will fill the gaps in our toolkit and continue to develop our capabilities.  

The internet is our best friend when it comes to research but there is a lot of information to decipher and with everyone claiming to know which practice has the greatest benefit on student growth, which resource provides the most accurate data and which strategies make workload manageable it can be overwhelming deciding which advice to follow and knowing what you need to find out for yourself. 

The experts that know if a resource is really making an impact with students are the teachers that use them daily in their classroom. So reach out to your teacher community or request to hear from someone using the resource that you are considering. This is the perfect way to cut through the sales techniques many companies use and get a deeper understanding of the value, impact and process of implementing a new tool. 

Throughout your research make sure you also talk to the people behind the programs to guarantee they can back their claims with proven evidence and data. It’s easy to state that you can offer personalised learning to improve growth but what is actually offered can be a very different story. Create a list of questions that you can take with you to any meeting so you don’t miss any important elements and can walk away feeling confident that you gathered all the information you need to make an informed decision. 

Add these questions to your go-to list

  • How long does the implementation process take and what steps are required to ensure it is completed properly?
  • What evidence and research backs the claims you make? 
  • What data can you show that illustrates the positive results your schools are experiencing?
  • How long until the results start showing in my classroom? 
  • Can you meet the individual needs my school has with flexible implementation? 
  • What support will we receive from you throughout our journey?

As you can imagine, getting in touch with other teachers and taking walk-throughs of potential resources takes time, especially if you also want to unpack all the information and consider your options after. So to get ahead, start planning out time to do this soon.

4. Take action for the future

At this point in the journey, it’s time to secure best practice resources and begin the implementation process. It’s important to feel prepared and have experience with a new resource before the first day of Term 1, which means taking part in professional development and training well before then. We want our student’s learning journey to be seamless, which we all know means a lot of hard work behind the scenes. But if we can work with our team to get a good understanding of how a program runs, we can arrive at Term 1 with the confidence needed to jump straight into things.

Simple action steps to follow 

  • Pick the resource that aligns with your goals 
  • Complete the PD and training before the summer holidays
  • Collaborate with your team to make sure everyone is prepared
  • Practise a lesson with a teammate
  • Jump into it in Term 1 with your students 
  • Take time to reflect on how the first month went and check in with your students 

The final thing we need to ask ourselves is when should we actually start planning?

Good planning takes time! The more time we allow ourselves, the more space we have to find out what we need to support our students’ learning and which practices can best help us to achieve this. So let’s not wait until Term 4 before we start thinking about this. Term 3 is the perfect time to start, which is particularly true when it comes to planning what resources we need for next year. 

To discover what really makes a good resource we need time to evaluate what our classroom needs are and what options are out there to meet them. Attempting to get through the entire planning process over the school holidays will only leave us feeling overwhelmed and underprepared for the new year. That’s why now is the best time to start planning for 2023.  

If you are ready to take the next step in your planning and would like to speak to a consultant about the Maths Pathway Model fill out the form below and we will be in touch soon. 

Author: Maths Pathway

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