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Your guide to teacher planning: iUgo Planner overview

Writing a teaching plan is like no other kind of plan. iUgo was purposely created to make curriculum and teacher planning easier.
teacher planning

As with all things iUgo, we are going to make this overview as simple, fun and painless as possible. In short, teacher planning is like no other kind of plan. But the iUgo Planner makes it as easy as possible.

We began to support the planning process in print form, with the popular Essential Resources series Curriculum Planning Made Easy. These books were a vital part of a teacher’s work kit until the demand arose for a smarter, digital version of these teacher planning templates. So, we did what any good teacher would do – we built one that was fit for purpose. And the iUgo Planner was born.

Teacher planning is different

Teacher planning starts from many different places, depending on your style and school. Much like landing a plane, landing a teaching plan starts in the clouds. You need to understand the curriculum requirements, teaching goals and your school’s approach to frame exactly what your plan has to cover.

At the next stage, bringing the runway into sight, you need to map out the various levels in your classroom. Plus the unit and work plans you will be teaching and the resources you need to support them. All of these are integrated back into your big-picture view.

Then you need to actually land it. Here is when you identify the granular detail of when the unit plans will be taught, to whom and how. And this needs to fit within the ‘runway’ your school has created. Including teacher-only days, holidays, school events and other calendar influences for your planning to navigate.

iUgo is a Latin term meaning ‘to connect’. It’s apt because we have connected all the different planning tools you could need to create your teacher planning.

So, let’s take a closer look at each of these components.

NZ Curriculum planning

Long-term plans

A long-term plan is a summary of what will be taught for core subjects. And the timeline it falls into for the school. It details key ideas and the curriculum outcomes that the intended learning programme will address.

The long-term plan is designed to be a fluid document throughout the year. It’s adjustable according to the learning direction and needs of students in the school.

Key elements of a robust long-term plan can include:

  • the curriculum objective intended to be taught for a subject
  • the duration or timeline of learning
  • relevant information for school requirements.

Why this is necessary for teacher planning

A long-term plan document – sometimes referred to as the scope and sequence – meets the requirement for the curriculum to provide evidence that a teacher or school is complying with the policies of the education department.

This also supports teachers to:

  • create a big-picture map of the school’s learning goals
  • build high expectations of student achievement
  • visualise opportunities for teaching
  • connect curriculum objectives across different levels of learning.

What you should look for

The curriculum planning tool you use should let you focus on the content you are teaching. Not requiring you to channel time into formatting or preparing the layout of the document. It should automatically display weeks and allow you to ‘slot in’ your subjects and key ideas for the term or year. Once you’ve created a subject block, you should be able to select the timeframe and save into your master plan.

Long-term planning is the big-picture part of the process that affects everyone. You should be able to easily share your plan with colleagues. work collaboratively on a joint plan that all participants can then adapt to individual classroom needs.

Medium-term plans

A medium-term plan is a unit of work that encompasses the teaching, learning strategies and resources for a particular set of outcomes or content in the curriculum. It also notes any adjustments required to meet the learning needs of students. Plus it should include a section for reflection and evaluation at the end of the unit. A medium-term plan can be created either for a core learning area or as an integrated approach that demonstrates how learning areas co-exist.

Key elements of a medium-term plan can include:

  • details what you want students to achieve, communicate or understand within a given time period
  • what success will look like and how students will demonstrate achievement
  • identifying learner diversity along with teaching approaches to help these students succeed
  • the learning journey – what resources, activities and tasks are used day to day or within a lesson that advance a student’s learning.

 

Why this is necessary for teacher planning

A medium-term supports teachers to:

  • connect the dots between teacher vision, big idea, curriculum objective and individual student needs
  • identify external resources
  • create experiences in the classroom and meet the overarching goals for the core learning area
  • build and note successful methods and processes that can be reused or shared with colleagues.

 

What you should look for

Teacher planning is not a ‘one-size-fits-all’ activity, so even a templated approach has to allow flexibility in how you bring the unit plans together. Ideally the tool is automatically linked to the curriculum and pulls curriculum objectives and external content directly to the medium-term plan. Even better, it is linked directly to curriculum-aligned teaching resources you can pull into your plan as you build it.

You should be able to jump right in and focus on your vision, objectives and learning goals with real confidence – knowing you are following best-practice policies and documenting everything you need to. Another key feature every teacher looks for is to have ways of accommodating the various levels of ability in the classroom from the near genius to those who are struggling. The plan needs to identify learner needs and set out a clearly differentiated approach to meet those diverse needs.

Timetable and schedules – landing the plan

A timetable is a component of planning that pulls elements from each medium-term plan, providing a sequence of lessons and other school events. It enables you to allocate a suitable amount of time to work on a particular activity.

Key elements of a timetable can include:

  • a clear flow of subject lesson allotments and school activities that don’t overlap
  • notes on unforeseen events that impact lessons
  • an indication of break times and co-curricular activities.

 

Why this is necessary for teacher planning

A timetable – also referred to as a teacher timetable or weekly planner – is a key element of planning that helps to distribute a teacher’s time fairly and efficiently.

This also supports teachers to:

  • formulate a good timetable that builds orderly, punctual habits
  • adjust lesson timeframes according to the learning needs of students
  • share time in the appropriate proportions between different subjects and activities
  • prevent wastage of time and energy by removing duplication and unnecessary repetition.

 

What you should look for

Some key features are unique to the needs of a school and teaching timetable. The calendar should be set to the school’s terms, as well as display teaching days and the start and end of the school day. It should also be just as easy to use as any other online calendar – requiring no special technical skills.

As each school has specific timetable needs, your planning tool should accommodate a consolidated school calendar, classroom schedules and teacher timetables and bring them together in one location. That includes being suitable for 6+ day rotation scheduling, fortnightly or unique school scheduling requirements. Ideally this results in a run sheet of the teaching day, including lesson notes, resources and next steps.

Whatever tool you use, it should encourage transparency. It should help manage absences and enable a smooth transition for those sharing a classroom or when someone moves on. It is planning gold to be able to see not only what is ‘in plan’ to be taught, but also have an accurate record of what you have taught.

Time to start planning

Now you are up to speed with what to look for across the different elements of planning, there is no better time to put it to use. Whatever time of the year you start using a planner, you should be reaping the benefits immediately – certainly within 30 days. Not only will you save time and deliver better outcomes, you are setting yourself up for success no matter where you are in your teaching career.

The best curriculum planning tools do more than start from a strong base of teaching practice – they continue to evolve as education changes, based on input from teachers who are using the tool. If you’re new to teaching, using a planner should see you following best-practice from day one. If you’re a practised hand, you’ll be capturing all the intellectual property you’ve built up over the years and using it again and again. You can also share it with others, as you see fit, to build a legacy of expertise and best practice.

You’ve probably guessed, we’re passionate about planning and the value it can bring. And now that you’ve read this to the end … we hope you are too.

Start your free 30-day trial of the iUgo Planner today.

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