Skip to content

Why I Plan Less to Get More

November 12, 2016

I used to plan. A lot. In my life for example, I’d plan what to wear.. I’d like to think Im an organised guy. I also apply that thinking to my classroom or my lessons. I would say I am over-prepared and this, takes time. Time that is best used doing something else.

So  just to state that planning is important, but  in the teaching profession it looks different depending on experience and style.  I used to use planners, very detailed with listed objectives, materials, even time allotted for for activities. It is how I was trained. And this is limited. Some teachers (I bet not many) do this as practice as it takes so much time. We can’t plan everything and we should not. Yes teachers plan. We write stuff down or maybe we have it somewhere electronically or maybe we have it in our heads but we do plan. Big Message: Inquiry is hard to plan for. However, I am a big believer in documentation and even though I plan in my head I always write things down to make it better next time or to share with others and if Im really lucky others give me ideas to make things better. So. I also take a lot of photos too of the learning thats going on. Reflection drives my next lesson. 

I love this video about planning by Dan Pink that was shared by our ES  Principal. Instead of planning…. why not prototype? Go out and do it. Try it. Put yourself in the shoes of others of those who do what they do. So it reminded me of Tom Wujec’s TED Talk of the Marshmallow Challenge (which I did with my Grade 3 last year) and it really did underscore the need for PROTOTYPE AND DOING before planning. It was pretty cool because too much planning was not as effective as a bit of planning, trying, failing, planning and trying again.


So back to the big question.. less planning. Really? I have my doubts and questions:

But why should we plan less? 

  • sometimes we just don’t know where our learners interests might go
  • we follow kids interest
  • we want to spend out time on other things more useful in our lives (yes teachers plan at home)!
  • a lot of what we plan is becomes useless
  • we adjust to student voice and need

Wait a minute, I still don’t believe you… surely this is impossible…


How can you plan less?

  • Trust the kids
  • Promote and embrace the chaos
  • Listen to the student interests

What better time to gather formative assessment on kids ideas, interests, passions, challenges than to listen to times where they are in a ‘confused state’ and not sure where to go. This ‘confusion zone ‘ is where we WANT out kids to be and this rarely can  happen when we plan everything out for them.

Planning doesn’t work, trying stuff works.. D. Pink


One Comment leave one →
  1. November 13, 2016 5:21 am

    I liked your thoughts. I have a new principal new to PYP . He is used to structured teaching and time being utilised by teachers . At the moment my team has fallen apart , I have my worst 4th school to be authorized under such circumstances. Contracts ending and everyone demotivated . If I think of sharing / discussing your article in staff room ….are people ready for change and listening to (others thought….means various blogs and articles from other educators?) I am ready for a move as one needs to rise and be with educators and update one self.

    You are good …..freedom for voice and thoughts …..good going 🙂

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: