Constant Iteration

My method of planning is very much based off a constant iteration process. I’ve been teaching delivering classes for 20 years now in mostly the same location so I have the luxury of those experiences (and contact with colleagues) to pull from.

So I iterate each semester. I use what worked the past semester and throw out (or re-tool) what did not. Each end of semester whether summer or Christmas is a reflecting time for me.

Pick One (or two) Changes

This picture has nothing to do with planning, I just love the bunny. Original @ Flickr
This picture has nothing to do with planning, I just love the bunny. Original @ Flickr

I often make a large change each year and sometimes even each semester. Last January I switched to full-on flipped master (see post here),  and this year I made a massive switch to fully open content in the style of a #connectedCourse (see blog post here).

Learn from Others

I am the teacher #facilitatorOfLearningExperiences that I am from working and talking with so many colleagues in my institution as well as the large internet (thank you Twitter). The time I spend on networking with other teachers is more important than time spent looking for yet-another-assignment.

Find people that interest you or that will at least listen and answer your questions on teaching. Don’t be shy, get out there and blog/tweet/network.

How do you Plan?

Your turn, what is your planning process?


9 thoughts on “My Planning Process

  1. Great minds! I revise and improve my content/delivery every year as well. There’s always a way to improve what you’re doing. I applaud you for those bold steps that you’ve taken to change your classroom.

  2. That bunny has a special plan for you, notice his/her intense focus.

    My process (though I teach infrequently) is completely underestimating the amount if tinkering I will do. Having done a class at least 3 or 4 times gives you pretty much a foundation.

    Something I am stewing and hopefully writing on soon is how much the syllabus or content drives a course. Is that the only plot that holds a course together? That’s the thinking behind what Brian and I tried with the You Show, creating something of a narrative that propels the course, but perhaps is not essential to the content. When you have a plot or a theme or metaphor for a course, then you have to think like making a movie in maintaining continuity to the “plot”.

    But I digress in your comments.

    One of the favorite community college teachers I worked with was a physics teacher who would completely gut and redo his approach almost every year after attending a Physics Teaching conference. David would return with a new angle every year, though it was not just for the fad seeking. I recall him doing things with Just in Time Teaching, students building robots, and more recently, students learning principle of physics while building electrical guitars.

    Of course you need/use a lot of manic energy to do this and what you have done Ken; is the payoff energy that feeds back into your teaching? As opposed to the path of lesser resistance to do what was done before?

    1. First, thanks for the reply. Second, feel free to digress at will. I love when a quick blog post leads to a deeper discussion and you definitely took things in that direction.

      Metaphor: I love this and I have a blog post coming “someday soon” attacking my views on this. Just checked, yep it is in the Drafts folder. #sigh

      I think setting the stage is great and I really love what you and Brian did there with YouShow. What I love even more is that you have the ability to spin or pivot to focus on whatever comes up. You have a plan but you don’t make it with pen but an erasable marker. But don’t sniff them…. (see evidence here: )

      Related: Cheryl Morris tweet on Monday’s #flipclass chat:

      So yeah, I think the syllabus is needed but is a loose plan.

      Crazy teachers: I used to teach different courses almost every semester when I started teaching here at the Tecnológico de Monterrey (Guadalajara) back in the 90s. Heck one semester I taught 8 groups (5 is the normal full load) of distinct courses (4 math, 4 computer science) but I was young and crazy then. Now I’m just older and still crazy. I embrace change and don’t think I could keep rehashing the same course over-and-over. My colleagues used to contact me (via email. Look it up kids, it is what old people use to communicate) asking for my slide-decks and my answer was always “I don’t have any”. They thought I was holding out but I always loved walking into my class with my chalk (multiple colours of course!) and just go nuts working on whatever my students wanted to talk about.

      I just can’t stop learning and doing new things. That’s why I am still in school after all of these years.

      Manic energy: check. My colleagues often ask where I find the time to do so many projects. Time is finite and I just cut out the time sinks that just don’t make me happy or the people I care about (family, friends and of course my students) happy.

      Yep, the payoff gives me energy. I was having a “Negative Nancy” day (apologies to any Positive Nancys) and the moment I read your comment yesterday it gave me a positive high. I live for education and sharing what I do in education (which is education I guess, infinite recursion and all).

      Yep, I think my own comment is longer than the original post. Achievement unlocked thanks to @cogdog.

  3. I’d love to be able to say that I can plan, but often I can’t. So I fake it. With standard content, it’s hard to keep things fresh, so most of my planning time goes to finding novelty in either the process itself or other related processes. So it is iteration in a way, but with one difference from your environment, at least half of my students have already seen the previous version of the lesson, so it has to be new enough to kick them back into paying attention.

    So I guess you can say I plan for novelty. Because at the end of the day, novelty is often the most powerful tool that any teacher/facilitator/presenter has. That and a touch of insanity.

    1. Thanks for the comment Raj. I really am interested in how corporate training is different to my environment. So I take it much of the content you give is “refresher” type training?

      1. Some is refresher, other is new for process. There aren’t many who are “self directed” to be there. Most are just checking boxes as it were. Corporate training is as much about how things are presented vs what is presented… to a crowd who often is indifferent about being there.

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