Monday, July 10, 2017

How to Lesson Plan Effieciently - Weekly Routine Update

Original post title:  How to Not Lose Your Mind as a Teacher
 

Back in January, I blogged about a routine that I was trying out.  You can read the original post here.

Now that the school year has ended, and I've had 6 months to try it out, I wanted to blog an update.  Essentially, this routine turned out to be a life and sanity saver.  Side note:  In January, I also became a member of the 40 Hour Teacher Workweek Club.  The club is designed to help teachers be more productive and use less time outside of the classroom to be effective teachers.  Now don't get me wrong, I enjoy being in the club and it is an invaluable resource.  BUT, I think that had I implemented this routine earlier, I wouldn't have felt the need to join the club.

Before I was all over the place.  Three preps were a challenge for me, especially because one of them was completely new to me.  After implementing the routine, I knew exactly what I should be doing and when.  I had guidance and structure, and I think I really needed that to get through my hectic year.  (Not just teaching, but coaching the math team, advising the senior class, running the prom dress drive, and dealing with personal and familial hardships.  It's been a tough year, but not my worst.)  The routine makes me feel like I have it mostly together.

Here are the changes I made from January:
-Sunday:  Sunday started out as my planning day.  Around the time I started this routine, I started typing up my weekly plans as a Google Document.  Once I had my plans fleshed out, I would start on interactive notebook inserts for Geometry, note sheets and practice activities for General Geometry, worksheets for SAT Prep, etc.  I would also begin working on homework assignments for Geometry and General Geometry.

-Monday:  I would continue the work from Sunday.  Turning the worksheets/homework category into a two-day task was essential for me.  These are easily the most time consuming tasks of my planning, and two days are absolutely necessary.

-Tuesday:  I would work on quizzes and tests for my classes.  Tuesday was my flexible day.  I don't have tests and quizzes in every class every week, but every week there is something.  I also would use Tuesday as a make-up day for the worksheets/homeworks that weren't completed on Monday.  Again, having built-in flexibility was critical for me in having this routine succeed.  Because no two weeks are ever the same.

-Wednesday:  Unless I had a hectic week, all of my materials were created by Wednesday.  Wednesday was my answer key day.  I would print out everything I had prepared from Sunday through Tuesday, and then complete every note handout, worksheet, activity, homework, quiz, and test.  I would then tweak anything that needed to be changed.  Wednesday was almost like a "relax" day for me.  In some sick way, I find making answer keys soothing.  I also updated my interactive notebook pages for the next week.  By that point, my plans were solid.  I added the pages, but left the dates blank on the table of contents.  The only thing that would have changed at that point was the day that we completed the pages.

-Thursday:  On Thursdays, I would make my copies and begin working on Smart Notebook files for the next week.  One thing I learned from Angela Watson's Truth for Teachers podcasts is to be satisfied with the "Minimum Viable Product".  This is where I exercise that concept.  I'm not making over-the-top Smart Notebook files unless I wind up with extra time.  I am largely using the "Smart Notebook Document Writer" feature under printers and using screenshots of the worksheets that students are being provided.  This saves so much time, and I think it's often easier for students to follow a model that looks just like what they have in front of them.

-Friday:  Fridays are typically busy on their own as we wrap up the week.  I saved Fridays for finishing up the Smart Notebook files that weren't finished on Thursday.


I had some interesting results by implementing this routine.  First, and most importantly, I was able to plan during school hours.  This had never happened to me before.  As far as I'm concerned, it was a miracle.  Second, I became faster at completing the tasks.  Within a month, completing weekly plans was moved to Friday because I had extra time.  Some weeks were so busy that weekly plans were still completed on Sunday, but I didn't mind because Sunday was originally designated for weekly plans anyway. 

Overall, I declare the routine a great success.  However, there are still tweaks that I need to make.  I stopped including the district-required unit plan updates.  I stopped including the Google calendar updates for my Geometry class website.  I kind of forgot that I even had a Geometry class website that needed updating.  The problem with these items is that they do not occur every week.  (The Google calendar update really should though.  Mental note:  Google calendar should happen on Fridays next year.)  Unit plans and website updates happen at the conclusion of every unit.  I will be incorporating them into their own routine next year.

Do you have a teaching routine that works for you?  How would you implement your own routine?

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