Often a teacher will have only given you some idea of what they would like to do. Its not unusual to get a few notes on a post it note, or even a short conversation snatched at the doorway as the class teacher heads off for their non-contact time.
This type of 'aspirational planning' is typified by loose learning objectives without much clear instruction about how to achieve it. It is often usual to be given rough directions, but no clue about where the resources are, or any time in which to produce them. Frankly, it's not a terrific position to be in because there seems to be an assumption being made about what you should achi eve in class.
In my experience following these sort of plans will either work badly, or terribly.
Here is an action-plan wrought from painful experience, guaranteed to grasp success from a partially planned failure!
- The first thing you should do is look at what you have been given. Use your professional judgement. Are the learning objectives clear? (If you are unclear what the children should be learning, the children will only become unruly and confused.) Is the differentiation and group organisation clearly explained? Can you see a link to resources (or have any been provided for you to use)? Just as importantly - do you feel confident enough with your own knowledge of the subject / are there any 'notes' to help?
- Make a bold decision. It is up to you whether you alter the plans a little, change them significantly or simply ignore them altogether. Remember that it is in nobody's favour to struggle with bad planning all day. The children won't learn much, you will fail to shine as a visiting teacher and the class teacher will undoubtedly have a host of behaviour issues to deal with on their return.
- When you think of the skills and activities that you might do instead, look again at what the teachers learning intentions seemed to be. For example, if the suggested activity seemed to be converting top-heavy fractions to mixed numbers then you should still try to aim at supporting the children in this area. Just do it in your own way.
- Both time and your confidence in your ability are factors here. If either are low, abandon the poorly planned sessions. Go ahead - treat the day as unplanned. Yippie! Just remember to give a clear account of yourself and the class to the class teacher - specify your reasons for not following the plans. Also state what the skills / knowledge you taught actually were.
- Don't worry! 95% of the time, if the plans were sketchy it is because the class teacher isn't massively committed themselves. It is far better to provide a good experience to everyone involved. The class teacher would usually agree. The head teacher wouldn't hesitate to agree if the instructions left are genuinely of poor quality.