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For the New Teacher

About this Daily Classroom Special
For the New Teacher was written by Pam Tyrrell, a teacher at Jefferson Montessori Campus, Dayton, Ohio. Designed to aid entry level teachers, topics focus on issues and concerns commonly expressed by the neophyte teacher. For more new teacher oriented articles, make sure to check out New Teachers Online.

Lesson Plans: Beyond Reality

Lesson plans, in general, are the blueprints which will help you get your students from non-mastery to mastery within a given time frame. Many districts have specific guidelines and rules for how lesson plans are to be formatted. Be sure to ask your building principal for a copy of what he/she considers to be effective lesson plans, preferably from a teacher who is currently in the building.

In general, it helps to know exactly what you are responsible for teaching. You should receive a copy of the curriculum when you are hired, if not, ask for it. Once you have been assigned to a building, go at once to the principal and ask if you may take home your teacher manuals for the textbooks which your students will be using. Ask if your district has curriculum specialists, or maintains resource rooms. You may find your district has developed a timeline for curriculum, with practical tips for integrating themes into your lessons.

If not, set up your own timeline, and integrate themes of your own making. For example, Unit 1 in the 3rd grade reader is Remember When... and deals with historical fiction. Using this as a springboard, math instruction may include lessons on Roman Numerals, measurement, and number lines. Social Studies might incorporate timeline work and writing prompts such as "Why Would I Want to Own a Castle?" Botany and Zoology lessons might speak to the issues of plant and animal adaptations for survival. Each topic is required learning at our grade level. By looking at the school year as a whole and setting up themes, you may be able to cover topics in a relatively seamless flow of content learning.

Ideally, lesson plans should serve as the map for getting your students from point A to point B. First look at the total curriculum to be taught, then determine quarterly goals, breaking them down to weekly and finally daily bits of information to be covered. Talk with your colleagues to discover "hidden" curriculum. Find out when the Science Fair is, and be sure to send home information, such as judging criteria early enough so your students can prepare adequately. How much emphasis does your school place on holidays? All these elements need to be kept in mind when sitting down to do lesson plans. It's a good idea to take the lesson plan book out and pencil in important dates to remember well in advance.

Many of today's teachers are putting their lesson plan format on their computer. Some districts are even getting this powerful productivity tool on line for their teachers. Consider using this method if it is available to you, it can cut dramatically the number of hours you spend doing lesson plans.

Remember, even the best made plans need to be shelved from time to time as unexpected issues crop up. Having a plan is helpful, but try to remain flexible as the occasion warrants.


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