I was asked by a participant in a programme I run why the collaborative planning (Triad planning of lessons) did not work as well for him as for the others on the course. This is usually a very positive and high impact part of the programme. I replied:
- Trust. One has to trust the other members of the triad are carrying out the process for the best professional development reasons. If they try to show how good they are, or to show that they are better than the other triad members – ie it is perceived as a competitive process, then that will not deliver the best outcome.
- Humility. If one does not accept that one can learn from others. Or we believe that the other members of the triad have nothing to add. Perhaps their style of teaching is not one that we see as having much relevance to our teaching.
- Planning. We do not actually plan collaboratively. That means giving real value to the ideas of others. Variety of learning styles etc is at play here. Perhaps we do allow the planning to happen but do not then deliver to the spirit of that planning.
- Permission. Perhaps we are not allowed to impact on the planning of the others in the triad. They do not allow collaboration so our role is simply to know compliance to their planning.
- Feedback. Perhaps this is not given or received in a professionally challenging and positively developmental mode. We are inspecting rather than developing with colleagues. Or we don’t value the process so don’t try.
What do I think is potentially valuable about the process?
- Working with other, outstanding teachers. Must be good to get their view on our job.
- Collaborating and breaking down the glass door of professional isolation that might allow someone to be in our classroom but does not really allow them to be part of our development.
- Dealing with the limitations we have because we have our own learning style set. So we plan lessons that would be good for us as a learning rather than for our students as learners.
- We don’t do it the way we have always done it but we consider other methods.
- We HAVE to focus on the learning we want as the others in the planning triad MUST understand what we are trying to achieve. This gives us a learning focus rather than a task focus. (This a critical point.)
- Trying out new ideas; some that we have seen on the OTP.
- Exploring what it is like to take risks, try something new, in a safe environment. (This is a learning process and so we will try things that sometimes don’t work as expected.)
- Increasing our repertoire of techniques with a deeper understanding compared to just observing good practice.
- Improving our ability to provide quality feedback on learning rather than on delivery. Focus on student learning rather than teacher actions.