The Dog Ate My Lesson Plans

Cartoon Of Dog Eating Lesson Plans

One of the swimming forums that I follow on Facebook today was discussing whether swimming teachers should write lesson plans for every swimming lesson and some teachers were even saying it was lazy not to write plans.

I personally (on the whole) don’t write lesson plans and I don’t necessarily follow schemes of work either.  When I first became a teacher, I used to be religious in writing a plan and following the scheme of work, but over time, I have learnt (for me) it isn’t necessarily right to follow something that can feel quite rigid.  Yes, lesson plans can be a security blanket for a teacher without experience and it makes sure that they cover all that they

need too, but if you really know the children that you are teaching, you can adapt the lesson to them as the lesson goes along.

What I prefer to do is to have a copy of the tick sheet for the certificate that each individual child is working towards.  Each child has two lines each (so that I have to assess the skill more than once to make sure it is a skill and not a stroke of luck) and I also have a very clear guideline in my head of what children should be able to do at each level.  I suppose you could call this my lesson plan and scheme of work, you could also say that I teach to test.  However you look at it, it works really well, as the tick sheet charts the progress of each child, it highlights where the struggles are for either the individual or the whole class (and if it’s the whole class I know I need to do something about it!).  These tick sheets are with me the whole time and I use them to show the parents what the child has achieved, how far they have come and if there is any queries about putting faces in the water, jumping etc. I have an official document that I feel that the parent really cannot argue with.  If a child comes to me and says the lessons are too easy, I can use the tick sheet they are currently on and the ones following to fast track to them, whilst making sure that there are no holes in their swimming knowledge.  Tick sheets make me able to really personlise the lesson to set individuals.

Each child is an individual and cannot be painted with the same brush.  They won’t all understand the same drills, depending on their age and level of intelligence.  Some might have brilliant backstroke, but a rubbish breaststroke.  In this case, I would give the swimmers more time on breaststroke (I usually try and incorporate breaststroke into every lesson for the more advanced swimmers) than I would backstroke.  The children can have more of an input into the lesson and I get frequently asked “Can we do ….?”  This leads to a more friendly relaxed environment for both student and teacher and gives the swimmer some responsibility for their own learning as they can give input.

The only lesson plans that I do have are for STAnleys 1 – 3.  These have been tried and tested and each tick sheet is run over two lessons.  The paperwork for the lesson plan is laminated, is designed on the circuit principle and is extremely detailed.  The children probably look like they are just playing, as we have made laminated cartoon characters that fit specific tasks and have bought extra equipment to make the lesson plan run as smooth as possible.  But if you trace the origins of these particular lesson plans back to where they started, you will find yourself with the tick sheet!

I used to panic if I didn’t cover everything in the lesson plan and that made me a stressed out teacher and that’s not good for the kids.  Now that I’ve thrown the lesson plan out of the window, I’m happier in the knowledge that it’s good to be flexible.

The Swimming Teaching Association

National Water Safety Week

Next week (6th – 10th June) is the STA’s (Swimming Teachers Association) National Water Safety Week and the aim is simple: to help raise awareness of water safety this summer. Did you know that around four hundred people drown in the UK every year? That works out at one person in every twenty hours. Drowning is also the third most common form of accidental death in children. No one is immune from drowning, even strong swimmers can drown and many do so.

People simply do not realise how dangerous water can be – it is possible for a child to drown in just six centimetres of water.

So what can you do to make you, your family and friends safer around water? Be selective of where you choose to swim. Open water or wild swimming is growing in popularity, but unless it is swimming in a controlled, supervised environment or you know what you are doing, please do not consider it. The water might look tempting on a hot summer’s day, but the water could be dangerously cold and the effects will be felt by your body immediately, thus hampering your ability to swim back to safety. Even if the water is warm, how clean is it? However hard you try not to, it is inevitable that you will swallow small amounts of water and it could lead to sickness or you could come out in a rash just through contact to the skin. The water might look deceptively shallow, nature can do strange things with natural light and water movement, you can never be quite sure what is lurking just below the water’s surface.

It’s not just open water swimming that could be problematic, what about paddling pools, hot tubs or similar equipment that could be found in the back garden? Children should not be left unsupervised as death from drowning can take from three to four minutes, hardly any time at all and as said at the top of this blog, children can drown in just six centimetres of water. Parents of children who are strong swimmers think it’s ok to let their offspring to go swimming unsupervised. Not so, you need to check with the owners’ of the swimming pool first what their policy is. Where I work for example, children have to be over sixteen (unless it is a fun session where there is lifeguard cover) to swim unsupervised, it isn’t fair to put your child’s health and safety into the hands of others without their consent. Even if you are sitting on poolside supervising your children play in the water, please watch them all the time. This doesn’t mean read a book, sunbathe or play on your phone. Yes, it is boring, but the consequences are far worse and can happen all so quickly.

Drinking a beer, whilst sunbathing beside a pool sounds idyllic, but alcohol and water do not mix. Remember the last time you got drunk? Alcohol can lower your inhibitions and make you do things that you will later regret. That’s bad enough, but when your senses are impaired due to a large intake of alcohol, the risk taking around water could lead to a drowning incident. Alcohol can also slow down the rate in which your brain processes information, which can lead to confusion and disorientation; this could lead to bad judgment of distance (from the side of pool or

shore) and therefore a safe exit. Most people say they feel hot after drinking, but alcohol in your bloodstream actually lowers your temperature; making hypothermia a potential problem if you become stranded if open water swimming. Reflex closure of the windpipe is more likely after alcohol consumption. This means that after swimming underwater, even for a short period of time, your airways might not be open in time for that all important intake of air.

Water can be and should be enjoyed, please just be aware of the hidden dangers and hopefully, a precious life will be saved.