Having A Plan B Is Not Enough

Lots of cars now are made without a spare tyre which I have never got my head around. Why would they do that?

If you have a flat tyre, you are going nowhere fast. You have to call for assistance. Mind you, even with a spare tyre you might still need some help.

So, a flat tyre ‘Plan B’ type scenario is to phone the AA.

Now translate this to the classroom. Flay tyres are very common in this environment and there is no roadside assistance to call, you are on your own.

Having a plan B isn’t much use either. To survive and thrive in the classroom you need a Plan A-Z.

Having a carefully constructed lesson plan might give you the false impression that you have everything under control until you get a puncture.

This might be that a few children finish everything you had planned in half the time. It could be that everyone is so confused that the lesson has to be abandoned and edited on the spot.

It’s a common experience for a lesson to overrun or for a lesson to run out of steam.

Lessons are notoriosuly difficult to plan for – in fact, planning for one in detail is a waste of time. A loose plan works better because you just don’t know which direction pupils will take you. A common mistake is for teachers to direct children’s learning when what happens in reality is that children decide where they are going.

You could plan a lesson step by step and orchestrate it like a masterpiece but lessons aren’t like that. They are deliciously unpredictable and that is the beauty. They go this way, they go that way and we have to keep editing our responses accordingly. If the technology breaks then you have to think on your feet.

Writing flexibility into your lesson plans is essential. As we gain teaching experience we can get better at making quick changes to the plan and see this as the norm.

Teachers are excellent editors because they have to twiddle, tune and tweak. Like miners, teachers have to dig, drill, dynamite, and chip away (Simone, 2013).

Running out of activities as a teacher is not an option. You should always be able to adapt to any scenario and that means having an A to Z of options ready to fire. Many teachers will have a back-up file of activities and things to do and that is something you can easily build up. These contingency plans or spare tyre activities are a must to keep in a reserve.

The importance of having back-up plans is clear – we need ’em so make sure you have an alphabet of opportunities close to hand and close to mind.   

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