Tips for Lesson Planning for New Teachers
Wow! You've been super busy. Is spring break on the horizon for you? I hope when it comes you've planned to step off the grid for a bit.
Congrats on the book! You know how excited I am for you. The dream you have of sharing your story of how your work with "Littles" is finally here. I have NO doubt it will be a big success and that it will benefit so many teachers who want to grow in their abilities to use Google Apps with young learners.
It was interesting to read your long term/short term planning routine. You have it well developed and it looks like the template you use for weekly planning supports your practice. You've got a flow that works but that typically isn't that case for most new teachers. The thing is that today, I'd like to give our readers a bit of a feel for what "lesson planning" could look like as part of this process. Then I'll answer your question which was: What are some tools and resources that can help with long-term and short-term planning?
Bear with me Christine, if this is familiar to you, but let's unpack some lesson planning tips!
I like to look at a lesson plan as a teacher's detailed guide or map. The lesson plan maps the course of instruction for one class, or maybe many if you teach more than one subject. It's kinda like the "recipe" for the day's important learning!
A daily or weekly lesson plan is developed by a teacher to guide class instruction, right? Details will vary depending on the preference of the teacher and the subject matter being covered. Schools or school districts may have guidelines regarding the lesson plan. They may even have mandates. That being said, there's always a way to make your lesson plan uniquely your own.
Christine, you've already customized your lesson planning by using a Google Doc and a Spreadsheet. Some may find that using a Word Doc works best for them. Whichever way you choose, the need for a lesson plan is vital and it can be challenging to prepare one when you're a new teacher! Agreed?
Now let's briefly review the parts of a lesson and why they're important.
Objective: As easy as this may sound, your objective is what you want the outcome of the lesson to be. This is what you want your students to know and be able to do at the end of the lesson. I encourage the pre-service teachers I work with to do a "backward mapping" exercise as they prepare their lessons. How will it look when I'm done? This is key!
Materials: Your materials are the list of resources, articles or manipulatives you need for the lesson! Making a list can help you organize everything prior to the lesson and it's important to think the lesson all the way through. Do you need to place an order with your school's secretary? Will you need to plan to do your own purchases? Can you recycle some items from home? No matter what, you need to have all your materials list complete as you prepare your plan. You'd be surprised at how many teachers miss this part.
Procedure: Consider activation of students' prior knowledge. What will that look like in your lesson? What's the hook for your lesson? Will you start with a video, poem, song, story, tech tool? Teaching and learning activities are part of this process. What are the steps you'll take as you present and guide this lesson? Scripting these out ahead of time can give a level of confidence to your lesson that is needed as you start, especially when you're a new teacher.
Assessment: I once had a superintendent who said: "If it doesn't get measured, it doesn't get done." And she was right! How do you know if your students "got it"? Assessment happens throughout the lesson. As you go through the process do you make notes, even mental ones, of how it's going? As the lesson comes to a close, do you check for understanding to see if objectives were met? How will you assure that you get this done? All important questions that have to be tackled in our planning.
Reflection: Making time to reflect on lessons taught is the critical last step. The mark of a successful teacher is one who takes time to consistently evaluate and reevaluate their pedagogy. Do you agree? There are many ways to do this, but a journal that you keep with you at all times is an easy way to quickly write down thoughts about successful outcomes as well as areas that need improvement.
Christine, lesson planning in any form is never easy, but let's consistently do the work (which you do!) that's needed to continue to make our lessons engaging and inspiring for our kids.
So now to answer your earlier question. I think as a new teacher one of the best "tools or resources" that can help with long and short-term planning is simply a good old-fashioned human being! OK, not just any human being but a teammate, colleague or mentor. I was surprised that as you shared your planning process it didn't include what I like to call "teamies." I can't stress enough that the power of collaborative planning, especially as a new teacher changes everything! Grade level team planning and department level planning should be places to bounce around ideas that then leads to shared planning. Sitting with a mentor to get feedback on your lessons in the early years of teaching is invaluable. Weekly as I teach my university students they not only get feedback from me on lesson development but eventually they get it from their peers. It can be a bit intimidating at first, but in the long run, it will make you a better teacher.
Christine, that may not have been the answer you were looking for, but it's the one I had to give. I'm a strong believer in cooperative lesson planning and hope that some of our readers will consider how they can begin to use this in their own planning process. Looking forward to your thoughts and our next topic!
Photo By PhotosforClass.com