Already a few weeks into the new school year and the pressures of teaching are steadily rising. Teachers are already beginning to have overwhelming feelings as the day-to-day challenges mount up. One of the key areas of teaching that suffers early on is planning. Lesson planning gets pushed back, down the priority ladder as more and more tasks pile on teacher workloads. The admin tasks, emails, and much more take precedence over the essentials that teachers really need to be focused on. As a lack of planning persists, effective instruction is impacted.
Planning is such a critical part of effective instruction. This is the time were teachers really dive into their pedagogy as opposed to only their content. Content understanding and the knowledge of how to best teach that content go hand in hand. When planning is limited or non-existent, the effective methods of instruction decrease.
While the plan and implementation are separate entities, they co-exist and can bring a more effective instructional experiences to students. If a business does not have a marketing plan, their sales may suffer and CEOs may start asking; how much more could we have sold with a solid marking plan? If a general does not have a battle plan, causalities may increase, objectives may not be met, and the enemy could take a stronghold. If a homebuilder has no architectural plan, the house can fall. Plans in all areas of life are crucial for the success of the intended outcome and there is no difference in teaching. When teachers have a detailed, well thought plans for instruction, their instructional practice is more likely to succeed.
While there are some teachers out there that simply do not plan, many teachers just struggle to find the time in their day to really sit down and focus on their pedagogy. It takes a great deal of time to create big picture, scope and sequence plans, all the way down to individual instructional tasks.
Simply put, Planning is hard! Planning a lesson takes creativity and innovation, challenging the mind. The cognitive process planning takes rests at the top of every cognition scale (e.g. Bloom’s level 6). It takes a great amount of mental power to design a lesson plan that is thorough, detail, aligned to student learning, imbedded with assessments, differentiated, and interesting. Planning takes time and teachers have very little of it to spare.
Not too far in the recent past, many districts afforded teachers multiple planning periods, professional planning days, and extra time to meet planning needs. Recently, teachers have experienced limited opportunities in their day-to-day plans, or in some cases, have disappeared altogether. For effective instruction to take place, teachers need these types of amenities brought back and create new initiatives to support teacher planning time. In the meantime, consider these tips to keep your planning going strong…
Prioritize planning: make time for it and stick to it. Its kind of like exercise routines. You want to do it, but things get in the way, and you end up not going to the gym. We all know what happens when you don’t go, so make sure your lessons don’t end up the same.
Grind: Especially for new teachers, grind away at your lesson plans to create a foundation that you will use for the rest of your career. Some teachers never build a solid foundation of planning, and their lessons suffer year after year. Once it’s done, all you have to do is tweak and tinker.
Find resources that fit you: access your district’s resources, publishers your school uses, your neighbor/mentor teacher’s plans, teachtappy.com, and another planning resources that will make your planning that much more efficient and effective.