Theresa London Cooper
planning has always provided me with a tremendous amount of security
as a classroom teacher and professional developer. As a new teacher,
extensive planning allowed me to focus on working with my students
knowing that I prepared many worthwhile activities.
As a seasoned teacher, it allowed me the time I needed to reflect
on my practice.
of the valuable lessons I learned was the importance of aligning
relevant student data and student learning. How do you plan to address
your students’ strengths, challenges and interests? Do you
have a reliable and practical system of collecting data on your
students that informs your planning and improves student achievement?
There are many ways to plan. It takes time to decide what works
best for you. I’ll share two approaches I have tried over
the years. Set aside three to four hours to plan for the week. Refine
your lessons and record your students’ progress as the week
progresses. Think about what they have mastered and what you will
need to re-teach. At the end of the week, use your notes to help
plan for the following week.
Page numbers and objectives were not enough for me. I followed a
lesson-planning outline. There are many of these, but the one I
used included the following elements: objective, motivation, materials,
vocabulary, procedures, follow-up and homework. Initially, I used
a notebook and the aforementioned outline for each lesson. During
my later years of planning, I used the computer to record and plan
my lessons. The cut and paste options made it easy to refine my
lessons. What a sense of self-assurance it gave me.
Another approach I tried, but didn’t quite fit my style was
planning during my preparation periods. On Monday I planned reading
lesson, on Tuesday math lessons, on Wednesday social studies and
science lessons Thursday writing and language arts lessons, and
Friday I completed whatever was left.
I wasn’t able to plan each day, but the more I planned in
school the less I had to take home. On some days I checked homework
in school rather than taking it home. I tried the little boxes in
the planning books, but there wasn’t enough space for me to
write all the important elements of my lessons. Although my initial
approach was time consuming, I internalized the importance of planning
for student achievement and felt more comfortable with the approach.
I found the “day-to-day” did not work for me because
it was too nerve-racking. Although I spend time revising my plans,
carrying lessons over from one week to the next week, adjusting
my plans for unannounced assembly programs or special guests, I
always possessed a confidence because I was prepared for the week.
If I were too tired one night, I wouldn’t worry because my
plans were done. The day-to-day approach didn’t provide that
level of assurance.
do you focus your planning for student achievement?
For more on
planning, see How
to End the Year While Planning for Next Year by Allison