If you are eyeball deep in your first year of teaching, then chances are you have been really feeling that first year learning curve. There are never too many resources to help you in the early years of your teaching career, so we are here to provide you with some lesson planning/structure advice. You’ve been doing lesson planning just long enough now to start getting a feel for how to build individual units into larger, more integrated unit planning. The standards make more sense now that you’ve spent time translating them into lessons. In short, you’re at a good place for evolving to the next level of planning.
How to Step Up Your Game?
There are a few measured ways to level up in lesson planning.
1) Refine Your Assessments Strategy
Typically during your first year of teaching, one of the biggest challenges you face (besides classroom management) is working in a consistent, yet flexible, assessment strategy. In the beginning, you start with basic quizzes and tests at certain intervals. And that’s a perfectly fine place to start. But after a few months, you should have enough resources to incorporate different types of assessments into other parts of your lessons. You should actively look for more types of informal assessments that can be worked in to daily plans. Remember, you’ll need to be assessing the progress of yours students on a daily basis, so that you are not blindsided by the results of formal assessments. At this point in your first (or second or third) year, it’s high time to tweak your assessments.
2) Crowdsource Your Lesson Plans
The power of teacher collaboration cannot be overstated. It will be a source of strength for you as well as a source of information. Don’t try to reinvent the wheel- gather resources from fellow teachers who have already been down this road and incorporate what you can into your planning. Between online resources and your fellow teachers, you can start with a fair few lessons and adapt them to meet your needs.
3) Plan the End Game Now
The end of the year is in (distant) sight. Every lesson plan from here on out should be worked backwards from what you want to have accomplished by the end of the year. You should have a crystal clear idea of where you want your students to be by the final week of school, so that you don’t have to rush in the last few weeks to cram in content. Cramming never really works anyway. All assessments and units should be structured with the end result firmly in mind. You should have a decent understanding at this point of the pace you can actually move at, as well as an idea of the schedule for the remainder of the year (standardized testing included), so you are at a good point to plot your progress week by week, giving yourself a solid plan to finish out the year. Don’t forget that back-up plans are good too though.
These are just a few broad strokes for new teachers when it comes to lesson planning at this point of the year. I haven’t gotten into a review of more specific parts of lesson planning, since other blogs have covered that perfectly well. You’ll have to adapt any and all advice to match what is required by your district, of course. Whether you are mid-way through your first year of teaching or your fifth, your craft is always evolving, and these tips can be applied to almost any stage of your teaching career. After all, the students are not the only ones who are always learning.
As always, if you have some tips or suggestions that you’d like to see included, please feel free to leave them in the comments section of this blog.