How to Take Back Your Planning Time
Happy Wednesday My Teacher Friends!
Now that school is under way in many places, the overwhelm can start to set in. Overcome the overwhelm. Take back your planning time before things get out of control.
Getting in all of the planning, staying fresh in our teaching and managing the grading are 3 of the most time consuming, stress producing and valuable aspects of the teaching profession - other than the actual teaching. =)
So how do we overcome the overwhelm that comes with managing these 3 aspects of our day?
Like so many things, the best solution takes an investment of time up front but pays big all year: curriculum mapping. I know. It's a huge job. That's probably why we avoid it. But.... it will make your planning and decision making so much easier all year.
Having a fully integrated curriculum map will free you up to be creative, have fun with your teaching and try some new things. You'll also have more time for your friends and family because you'll be leaving school at a more reasonable time and NOT taking your planning home with you.
You'll spend less time planning and have more time for giving valuable feedback to students in a timely manner (AKA staying on top of your grading).
Our time is like our money, a finite resource. A budget frees us up to be intentional with and to enjoy our resources. Be intentional with your time.
So where do you begin? Take a deep breath. I have a time saver for you. My electronic template - totally editable so you can personalize it. Yay! Grab it here.
I start with my calendars. I add in start dates for the weeks and insert rows for school breaks (Spring Break, Thanksgiving Break...) and block them out and highlight them. Then, I add all school events, holidays, feast days, national holidays, special days we celebrate (Read Across America, Constitution Day...), etc.
Next, for those of us that teach in a faith-based school, we begin with our faith formation lessons and use that as a framework and underlying theme for the rest. For those in the public schools, either delete that column or turn that column into character lessons and use that as the underlying theme for your weeks and months.
Add in each subject you teach, one at a time.
As you work, think about where subjects and lessons fit together. Can you move a unit in one subject to another part of the year so you can integrate it with another subject? Do you need to add in a different mentor text or add a supporting text to a Language Arts unit so it will support the history or science you are teaching that week?
As you work, just be intentional and think of ways to maximize your teaching time and reinforce concepts with your students in other subjects. I like to think of it as showing students how each subject really does apply to other areas of life.
Curriculum integrations should be natural fits, not forced and artificial.
Not everything will integrate well. No worries. You'll start to see more ways to integrate ideas and topics over time.
Your curriculum map will not be perfect the first time. Just tweak it as you go and make notes on what you will change for next year.
Get after it!