You’ve discovered that life as a teacher means being constantly on the go. As an elementary teacher, I have several subjects to cover and little time in which to plan. Here are tips for planning your school days without giving up time for fun.
1. Locate district resources. The school district you work for probably has curriculum guides for you to use as a reference. Additionally, your district might have lesson plan suggestions.
2. Use the Backward Design method. Referring to the standards that your students are expected to meet, create an assessment that measures student mastery of the expected objectives. Knowing the end you have in mind will assist you in coming up with lessons that lead your students to that goal.
3. Get a little help from your friends. Many seasoned teachers love advising newer teachers. Find someone in your grade level or in the same subject area, and ask for their opinions on lesson plans. Hopefully, you have others who can share in the responsibility of planning.
4. Search the web. I remember one of my college instructors quoting the adage “Don’t reinvent the wheel” when referring to planning lessons. With all the technology available, great plans might be at the tips of your fingers. All you have to do is search for them. There are great sites that teachers rely on for lesson plan ideas, such as Teachers Pay Teachers and Pinterest.
5. Save your work. You may be teaching the same grade or subject area for a few years. Keep the lesson plans you use and any worksheets organized in a file cabinet or computer folder so that you can find them easily.
6. Plan away from home. I find it beneficial to take my bag of lesson plans and papers to grade to a coffee shop to minimize distractions. I can focus without being distracted by a house that needs to be cleaned.
7. Give yourself a time limit. Let’s face it, teachers could spend all evening writing lesson plans and grading papers, but that won’t make you the best teacher. Make sure to give yourself some time to relax. Tomorrow will be here before you know it.
This article originally appeared in the October/November 2013 issue of Educational Horizons.