Lesson Planning – The Art of Organization

Lesson planning can be an art form, if done properly. For too many teachers, lesson planning can be the black hole of a week – taking several hours out of planning time. Or leaving no planning time, so the lessons, teacher editions, materials, etc. are toted home to be done in front of Thursday night primetime television. For seasoned teachers, the lessons may not take as long, but they are stale. These lessons need some serious updating. For all teachers, new and veteran, I encourage a plan of action to envision interesting lessons that benefit the students, but are not time consumers to create.

Make sure to start each plan with the same lesson plan template. Many free templates can be found online. Purchasing a lesson plan book is also an option. Or creating your own template in a word processing program could also be done. Whichever way you decide, make sure to stick to that template each and every time to create a few shortcuts each week. After deciding upon the template, make sure you have all the necessary teacher editions, materials, and resources in one spot to create the plans. If you are constantly moving from location to location to pick up and return materials and books, you are wasting valuable work time.

When you are ready to begin planning, use a master calendar to input any major events or changes to the schedule for that week, such as student birthday celebrations or assemblies. Next, add in the specials schedule. After that, place all weekly recurring events into your plans. This could be lunch (everyday), silent reading time, weekly assessments, daily read alouds, morning work, etcetera. Now, when you look at your plans, you should have only chunks to fill in. Immediately, you have created only pieces in which to fill in, and you have only been working for ten minutes!

Finally, the last step in your planning is to quickly review materials, websites, resources, and old lessons from each chapter or section of the subject area you will be covering that week. From there, you should have a pretty good idea of how to cover the material. You may need to review your basal and look for new ideas that have not been tried yet. Or, you may look for a new interactive whiteboard lesson that is already created for the concept you will be teaching. Attempt to position in at least one new idea from previous years’ lessons for a little variety for yourself and for the students. Each subject area should only take 10 minutes or so to create if you are quickly staying on task, and not getting bogged down in scouring every website on the internet. In total, your plans should take no longer than 30-45 minutes to complete. If you are spending more time than that, you are not using time effectively, or are not keeping good files of materials previously used. If the lessons are taking considerably less time, maybe they need to be a little more creative or interactive. You want to be excited to teach them!

Lesson planning should not be a chore that is dreaded each week, but rather an exciting opportunity to create lessons that involve students. It should instill a love for learning and teaching for all involved. Have fun and get planning!