If I’m being honest with you, which I am, I’d have to tell you that teaching almost killed me. Ok, so not literally, but most definitely figuratively. Why did no one tell us the incredible amounts of time we would spend planning our lessons? For me, I was so overwhelmed and stressed that if I did not find a way to spend less time lesson planning, I wasn’t going to be able to continue in the profession.
In my mind, giving up on my career wasn’t an option, so I spent one summer researching and preparing for ways to save time as a teacher. I knew that lesson planning and grading were the areas in which I needed to make major adjustments to protect my sanity.
Here are the 5 Ways to Spend Less Time Lesson Planning:
1. Spend time at the beginning of the school year getting organized.
I spent a lot of time on the couch during the summer planning out how I would introduce, practice, and master all the standards. Then, when it came time in the school year to plan a unit, I already had a large road map, and I knew exactly what I wanted to accomplish! From there, I just plugged in the information each time I began planning a unit. The best part was, once I did this once, I could recycle the organizers each year with only making tweaks. Lucky for you, you can download the core content yearly organizers and the unit organizers I use here! Just fill in your information!
2. Use a template for planning your units.
Once you download the unit organizers I use here, input information you will use in every unit. Do you lead discussion groups every Monday? Do you share projects on the last day of every unit? Do you review the Friday before the end of every unit? Plug that information in the first time and leave it for the year, only making tweaks when necessary. I mean, students thrive on consistency and predictable outcomes, so why not use that to our advantage?
3. Begin with the end in mind.
Start planning at the end of the unit and work your way forward. This gives you a clear picture of the finish line and the amount of time you have to accomplish your objectives. After your end is planned and your template activities are completed (from above), you can fill in the remaining days with the activities you want to use to accomplish your objectives.
4. Batch Plan
Set aside several hours while planning a unit to get all your ideas and plans together. This will help you to stay focused on your goals, will ensure you are able to fit in all lessons you wish to teach, and will give you a clear road map. This will also save you a ton of time each week as you prepare your materials. If you are like me and you are easily distracted by colleagues, try taping a sign like this on your door. You’ll get your point across without ruffling any feathers.
5. Schedule one-two hours per week throughout the unit to gather materials and prepare for actually implementing the lessons in class.
At this point, your road map for the unit is clear. You know what to expect each week and how you are going to accomplish your objectives. Now, you just have to carve out one, maybe two planning periods a week to gather the materials you need, make copies, and make general preparations for the following week. Make a list on the Week-At-A-Glance and start chipping away at what needs to be done, and before you know it, your planning goes from multiple hours a week to quick and easy.
After implementing these lesson planning hacks, you’ll be ready to spend your other planning periods completing other tasks and your weekends doing what you want!
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