November Blog: The excitement of planning


I did a lot of thinking about lesson planning during October. We have had our annual round of ‘Planning & Assessing Primary Music’ live courses, and have also just launched the brand new online version of this course. In addition, by happy coincidence, in my ‘other job’ at Leeds College of Music I have been introducing my students to the processes and purpose of lesson planning…

In all of these various interactions on the subject of planning, one big issue kept reappearing. For me, the process of planning is about setting objectives for our pupils, working out the outcomes we need to assess whether the objectives have been met, and then filling in the activities which take us from the objective to the outcomes. But, particularly with a creative subject like music, it’s the activities that are the really exciting bit! In all the tasks I have set during our courses over the last month, with both seasoned teachers and students, all the groups have acknowledged that they have become distracted by the exciting activity ideas that pop into their mind as soon as they think of a topic.

Why is that an issue? Well, if we get over-excited about the activities, pretty soon we may be wavering away from our original objective, or getting into a situation where we cannot create the outcomes that we had intended. I have a suspicion that this may be why school music schemes often take on that “Thomas Cook Tour” (thanks, Professor Fautley!) quality, with many different topics covering different styles and genres, none of which relate to each other or build on the skills already developed. A “shallow musical odessey” (thanks, Ofsted!) if you will.

In an attempt to clarify my thinking, I drew this diagram at our Birmingham course. This represents how I feel about the different components of the planning process, but I’d love to hear from others who approach planning from a different perspective!

Dr Elizabeth Stafford

November 2017