“Not as simple as posting the instructions online for parents or students to access.”
In the background of the ‘should we close schools?’ debate, teachers around Australia are frantically trying to prepare months of lesson plans for students at home. Whilst this limbo may be unavoidable, it is creating a headache for teachers who need to prepare for an unknown number of students who will need to attend school, and for the majority who do not. For anyone who knows a teacher, the job of designing and preparing lesson plans is one of the most time-consuming aspects of the job and modifying lesson plans for home learning is not as easy as it might seem.
Since I stopped teaching, I have been part of a team providing support for teachers and school leaders, essentially as partners in teaching and learning. In 2015, we developed MAPPEN an online application that provides learning sequences to primary school teachers across Australia. Our 32 Integrated learning sequences, address content in History, Geography, Economics, Science and Health and include over 700 individual lesson plans. A typical lesson plan takes my team around two days to develop, with some taking longer.
Over the past month we have been modifying our lessons for ‘home delivery’. This is not as simple as posting the instructions online for parents and their children to access. Our regular lesson plans, that are facilitated by teachers, reflect research based, best practice teaching and learning strategies. This includes lots of group projects and real-world problem solving. Modifying a modern curriculum for delivery at home is like pulling apart a machine that has many moving parts, removing some of the parts, and then trying to put the machine back together, while ensuring that it is in working order. One of the most difficult aspects of preparing for home learning is not knowing what support each student will have at home. We cannot know how much time and energy parents will have to support their child’s education.
As a parents of a school aged child my wife and I, both teachers, know the challenge of finding time and energy to complete a few hours of home learning a week.
Since the start of the school holidays, my wife, has been running ‘Mummy School’. There have been moments of success and genuine engagement, but between the three-year-old, the new born and the many other non-paid jobs around the house that she does day in day out, there have been moments of real stress and frustration, both for my wife and our six-year-old daughter. Needless to say, there will be homes around the country that have fewer resources and far less teaching experience to fall back on than ours.
So far, our MAPPEN team has published five learning sequences for use as Home Learning. The feedback from teachers who are assigning our Home Learning lessons for term two, has been one of relief and gratitude. The challenge that this situation presents teachers and school leaders is unparalleled.
MAPPEN is currently used in more than 350 primary schools around Australia, and it provides teachers with rich, engaging lessons, built around concepts. Teachers can select lessons for their students. To support teachers around Australia, we are making our Home Learning free to access. Teachers can register at https://homelearning.getmappen.com/teacher/register.