Making the Most of Lesson Planning Time

Confused bearded teacher. Unsure of what to do once his planning period has begun. It doesn’t have to be that way. Here’s how:

We’ve all been there – the wanting to get something accomplished, but nothing comes to us to get anything productive done? We have the time and the desire to do it, but we are just overwhelmed and aren’t sure exactly where to start. Well, here are a few things I do that could help you tremendously.

1. KNOW WHAT’S EXPECTED

Whether you prep or plan by yourself or with your grade level peers, you need to know what is expected of you. Now, this goes without saying that your state, district, school, and even your own students have requirements and expectations that you must meet.

Your state, district, and school, usually provide standards [some use the national Common Core Standards].

With this vital information, go into these prep sessions with what you expect your students to accomplish by the end of the lesson. Are are expected to teach the ‘CH’ sound, polynomials, how to sketch still life, the Declaration of Independence,’ or how to write a paragraph. Once you know what you are expected to teach at this time of the semester or year, then you have the beginning of your road map to your prep time journey.

Know What’s Expected by your State, District, School, Department, and even your students.

2. HAVE A PLAN BEFORE YOU BEGIN PREPPING

No! I am not a fan of teachers using their personal time to plan BEFORE they actually go to their planning period on campus. Can you believe that’s expected in my building? Sheesh!

I do, however, believe that you need to have an idea of what you want to accomplish in your classroom that day, week, month or the period of time you’re planning for.

When you begin planning, go ahead and write your ideas of content down, activities you plan to use or you were thinking about, materials needed, etc. This knowledge allows a more streamlined and focused prep period.

Organize your week’s and day’s agenda, either in your head or typed/written up. List all the standards, activities, time required, students needs (IEPS, lower learners, advanced students, etc.]. Having all this information ready beforehand gives you a shorter time in your prepping period.

3. BE PREPARED

hEY! gO grab your materials, your laptop, your copies, your list of standards! You don’t want to have to keep getting up and randomly opening up documents and searching emails from your lead teacher to start planning for the week of instruction.

Go ahead and bring these items or at least know where they are when needed.

Things like a calendar of school events, holidays, and activities that may impede a lesson, resources you need to scaffold instruction, list of academically advanced students, list of supplemental resources, etc. are all needed to help make your time of planning more effective and more efficient.

I once had a co-worker who always had to go to her classroom to ‘get something’ in order for us to prep our lessons together as a department [we prepped in one teacher’s classroom]. This slowed us down and inconvenienced each of us who could have been grading or completing other tasks in our own rooms. Don’t be that teacher.

Relax and relate with your Colleagues.

4. RELAX, REFLECT, and RECONNECT

WHOA! Can you imagine finishing up your planning sessions early, so you can accomplish other tasks within a reasonable time? That would be AMAZING!

Another thing that schools and districts neglect or forget is that teacher reflection is key. Teachers need time to sit and reflect on what worked, what didn’t work, or what needs to be done to improve student retention, student behavior, etc. in their classrooms.

Likewise, teachers need to reconnect with other teachers. Especially in the upper levels, teachers get so used to working by themselves, they forget that they all share the same students. Getting key information about what works with little Peter in their class could possibly help with little Peter or even jolly Johnny in other classes.

Yes, Ideas can come about from reconnect with others in your building!

Studies show that teachers feel isolated, so just shooting the breeze and interacting with other instructors while in the building without the pressure of planning a lesson garners connection and insight into the learning situation.

When teachers reflect and reconnect with other educators in their building, they can then…you guessed it…relax.

A relaxed educator always does better educating our students. When stress is alleviated, the teachers shine! Yes, Ideas can come about from teachers who are relaxed. When Ms. Smith and Mr. Thomas can sip on their coffee and catch up on the latest news item or make that phone call to secure that doctor’s appointment for an ailing spouse, it leads to a better day of teaching and instructing.

I mean – isn’t that what it’s all about?

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