Are you a planner? As teachers, we are required to be planners and to flexible with those plans all at the same time! But do you ever feel like you just can’t seem to get a handle on all the planning you’re required to do? This is exactly how I felt and planning usually comes naturally to me!
One thing I’ve learned after many years of teaching is that just because you know how to plan doesn’t mean you are planning effectively! Most teachers are required to do weekly plans and even if you’re not, you still need to know what you’re going to teach! What I realized is that planning needs to be systematic…a system of when to plan and how to make your planning time more effective.
The Plan Your Way to a Better School Year Series is going to show you how to systemize your planning so that you can leave work at a decent time and have your nights and weekends back!!
Part 1: Year Long Planning
How Year Long Planning Can Save You Time!
For the past 6 years, I have spent my summer creating year-long plans. Now, don’t get all nervous on me…they’re not detailed like the long-range plans you had to create your first year of teaching!
They’re just an overview, of what will be taught each week! This helps in 2 ways…
- You can make sure you cover everything you need to by the end of the year (or in some cases, by state testing time)
- It makes weekly lesson planning 10x easier!!
Step 1: Schedule the Time
You’ll need to set aside a good chunk of time to complete your year-long plans. Especially if you are wanting to integrate some of your subjects. Summertime is usually a great time to get your year-long plans done! You have the time and brain space to actually do it, plus it sets you up for a successful year! But if you’re reading this during the year, just plan out the months you have left!
Step 2: Gather the Materials
You will need to find your school calendar and district’s curriculum or pacing guide to reference as you’re planning. If your district doesn’t have a pacing guide, then find your state standards to help guide you. You may want to have a paper version in order to cross things off as you add them to your year-long calendar. That way you can make sure you’ve included everything. You might also want to pull any teacher manuals or programs that you use and have those nearby.
Step 3: Create the Calendar
This is where you will put all your topics or units of study. I have a free template in Microsoft Word available that’s completely editable so you can modify it in order to add your school dates, subjects, etc.
Step 4: Plan the Year
Once you’ve plugged in your school days, then pick a subject and start planning! It’s easier to start with a more straightforward subject such as math, but there’s no right or wrong way to do it. If you want to tie the reading and writing curriculum in with your science & social studies standards, it will probably take a little longer to plan.
*Personally, I print the calendar blank after setting up the dates. I find it easier to plan with paper & pencil first so I can make changes without having to mess with merging and unmerging boxes in Google Sheets. Then I transfer over to the digital version
Once you’re all finished, sit back and celebrate the fact that you’ve planned your whole year! Yes, things will change as the year goes on, but at least you have a blueprint for what it should mostly look like. The best thing is this will make your weekly planning so much easier!