During my first year of teaching, I always felt like my head was barely above water. I was usually just one step ahead of the students. Which as a first year teacher, I think just surviving is key. But as I figured out my stride later in teaching, it was easier to stay on top of my lesson plans. I went from staying super late and being the last one in the parking lot, to leaving after my contract hours ended. I want to share a few tips that worked for me.
Change Your Lesson Plan Strategy to Batching
Think of baking a batch of cookies. It's so much easier to make a bunch of cookies all at once than to make just one cookie at a time. The same concept is true with lesson plans. One of the reasons I felt like I was constantly treading water was that I didn't have a good strategy for lesson planning. I would focus on my lesson plan for Monday's math, and then Monday's ELA, and then Monday's social studies, and so forth. But I wasn't thinking about a long-range plan. When I switched to batching I could finally get ahead.
How to Batch Your Lesson Plans
Time is wasted when we jump back and forth between lesson planning. If we have 6 subjects or periods and jump back and forth between each subject, that's often multiple runs to the copy machine, multiple times of taking out and putting away different materials, etc. But when we sit down and plan just one subject or period at a time, we are more focused and can more easily create a long-range plan that will work.
What I like to do is take one subject or period and plan out an entire unit. This may be several weeks worth of content. If I can plan out two units or even a full month of content, the better. It can seem daunting at first, but the hardest part is really just sitting down and getting started. I will write out the plans, make all of the copies, prep all of the materials, or upload all of the resources that will be needed. I recognize that I need to be flexible as well, because although I may plan for one lesson on Wednesday, I might get behind or ahead a little bit. But I don't really sweat this, because I know where I am headed, and I know that everything is planned.
Once I plan out one subject, I do the same thing with the next subject or period until I have a solid long-range plan for each area. This might mean that I need to spend some uninterrupted time on the weekend to get ahead. But o