Last week, I shared how I avoid taking papers home to grade. This week, I want to save you even more time. Writing lesson plans is the other part of teaching that takes up a lot of time outside of the school day. Here are some ways I’ve found to save time on lesson plans.
How to Save Time on Lesson Plans
Your first year teaching and any year you switch grades, you are going to have to put more time into lesson planning. However, after you have that first year of lesson plans done, there are some ways to save time.
#1 – Copy and paste from the previous year.
Yes, as a teacher you want to keep things fresh and try new ideas each year. However, you don’t have to completely reinvent the wheel year after year. If you do your lesson plans electronically, you can just copy and paste from the previous year.
This is especially true if you use the same reading or math program from one year to the next. You have to follow the lessons in order, so just type them once and copy and paste them after that.
The years my school district adopts a new program, it always takes me longer to do my lesson plans. This year, we started Lucy Calkins Units of Study for Reading. I’ve spent more time planning this year, because I have to figure out the essential question and steps for each of the lessons. I’m putting the time in now, but I’ll be able to copy and paste it next year.
#2 – Find out your district’s requirements for lesson plans.
Every school district has different requirements for lesson plans. My school district looks for an objective, an outline of the lesson, and a standard. I created an online document that has each of these items for every lesson. That way, all I have to do is type them in when I’m planning a new lesson. At the end of the week, I just put my lesson plans document into a shared folder in Google Drive, so my principal can look at them.
You can download my lesson plan template at the bottom of this post.
#3 – Collaborate with your teammates.
This tip doesn’t work if you’re the only teacher at your grade level. However, if you have a team at your school, divide up the work of lesson planning. My teammates and I always work together to plan lessons and figure out new programs. By dividing up the work, we save so much time.
Some teams in my school even type on one shared document for all their plans, so only one person has to type the plans for the week. They take turns and submit them for the whole team.
#4 – Use online resources to help you plan.
For subjects where you don’t have a district-wide curriculum, look online for lesson plans and ideas. There are so many free resources available. Readworks.org and Scholastic have great reading lessons. There are also tons of free programs you can have your students use during your lessons. My students love using these reading and math websites. Mystery Science has a lot of great science lessons.
When you can’t find anything for free, head over to Teachers Pay Teachers. You will be able to find just about anything you need there.
#5 – Set aside a day for planning each month.
I’ve found that I save time if I plan for a whole month at one time. I go through one subject at a time and fill in my plans for the month. Then, I move on to the next subject. If there’s a lesson that didn’t go well the previous year or I want to change the way I teach it, I write it down. Then, when I have free time, I search for new ways to teach it. That way, I’m not scrambling to find something at the last minute.
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What Do You Think?
How do you save time on your lesson plans?
Let me know in the comments below.
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