Planning comes in all shapes and sizes and there are a myriad of planning templates online for every type of lesson. No matter what type of school you work in, you are sure to be writing lesson plans of some kind, but just how useful are they?
Whatever your stance is, on the writing of lesson plans, it would be wrong to assume that they aren't useful at all. The fact is that they are, but the degree as to which they are differs from person to person.
Most experienced teachers will be able to jot down their activities on a piece of paper, differentiating and spotting potential problems mentally. The plan may be sparce on paper but this doesn't mean that the lesson hasn't been well planned out in their heads.
For newly qualified teachers and teachers that aren't so experienced, detailed plans are much more important. Even if you think that you are planning well, it is likely that you will be missing important details, or potential sticking points for your lesson. Just the act of sitting down and writing out your lesson allows a new teacher to picture the lesson from start to finish.
The chance to assess
Lesson plans are also a good base for senior management to be able to assess your teaching ability.
While they can't be used as a sole indicator of a teacher's capability, as in-depth plans are easy to copy from the internet after all, they are a starting point. The ability of your Senior Leadership Team is also extremely important as to whether your lesson plans are useful or not. A good Head will be able to tell from watching one lesson if your past plans match up to the teaching in that lesson; they will be able to see how the lessons link together and offer advice of how to alter your plans to improve the effectiveness of your teaching.
Planning takes up a lot of time and the time spent should reflect the impact it has on the children. There is nothing more infuriating than when you are asked for plans and nothing is done with them.
I have previously been asked to transfer all of my plans from one format to another, not adding any more details, but simply because the school wanted them in their format. No one wants to be writing plans and filling in boxes for the sake of it and time would be much better spent actually thinking of good activities to do with the children.
It is ironic that teachers are constantly bombarded with ideologies about how every child is different, and that they all have different learning styles, but when it comes to teachers we are asked to plan in one set way.
Every lesson needs some type of planning but that planning should differ from teacher to teacher. If after observing a lesson the groups aren't quite right, then absolutely, the teacher should be asked to make a note of the children they will put into each group next lesson.
If the activities are running on for too long or are finishing too early, the teacher should be advised to jot down times for activities. Planning is useful, very useful, but if used unwisely, it can also do more damage than good.