Lesson planning. Every teacher’s got to do it. Not only do we have to do it, but it’s important that we do it well. Well crafted lesson plans create a direction and a vision for your day. They help you feel less stressed and more confident. They’re there for you to grab onto when your classroom is buzzing with activity and you can’t remember what you were going to do next! Don’t get me wrong, as teachers we should always be willing to step away from our lesson plans and steer our instruction in a different direction when our planned vision takes a turn in a different direction or our students show us they are in need of something else or something more. However, thoughtful lesson plans set the tone for the day.
Lesson planning is a very individual process, taking on a number of different shapes and forms. In this post, I’ll share a few of my own ideas and resources for creating daily and weekly lesson plans as well as how to organize them.
Lesson Planning Styles
Before my first year of teaching began I drove myself to the local teacher supply store and bought myself a shiny new teacher plan book with pencils and lined paper decorating the front. I had visions of myself sitting at my desk with my plan book, neatly writing in my lessons for the day and week. Well my vision didn’t manifest itself as I thought. I quickly found that the traditional teacher plan book was not going to work for me. There were too many details I wished to include in my plans that just wouldn’t fit in the tiny spaces provided. I also wanted to adjust the one size fits all boxes to fit the needs of my schedule. I wouldn’t necessarily turn and throw your teacher plan book out of the window however. They make perfect sense when you want to jot out an outline of your week to quickly refer to. Although like I did, you may come to desire the need for more freedom and flexibility with your plans. If so, below are a couple of daily lesson plan templates I created to better fit my needs.
Download this weekly lesson plan template (.doc) – adapted from Beth Newingham
While some of us may prefer to use paper and pencil to plan, others may be anxious to check out ways to use technology. I was one of those anxious teachers last year and so I tried out Planbook by Hellman Software. In the beginning, I spent much more time than I would have liked just figuring out how to best use this program rather than actual planning. Once I figured it out though, I found there to be many benefits. One being that after you create your plans you can easily print them out to have for easier reference. I also liked how I could easily switch from a weekly to a daily view. While I enjoyed this style of planning for awhile, I came to find that it just wasn’t for me. It turns out that I do my best thinking and planning when using paper and pencil.
Planbook by Hellman Software
Creating a Teacher Plan Book
If you have chosen to go the paper and pencil route, you may find it useful (and fun!) to create your own teacher plan book. Here is how I made mine:
Decide what tabs or sections you would like to include. I always include a calendar, weekly plans, daily plans, and notes section. I also liked to have a pocket folder in the back to collect miscellaneous papers so that they don’t end up somewhere else.
Add a small three ring pencil bag in the back. This can hold sticky notes, extra pens, or note cards that you can use for planning when you are not near your desk.
Now that you have created a place to organize all of your lesson plans (whether it be online or in your own plan book), you may find that your life feels a bit more complete! You’ll also have a book (online or off) of thoughtful and organized resources to use for reflection and hopefully even preparation for next year.