"Don't reinvent the wheel"

Discussion in 'General Education' started by CatfaceMeowmers, Jul 19, 2015.

  1. CatfaceMeowmers

    CatfaceMeowmers Companion

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    Jul 19, 2015

    Hello all. I feel I am really losing it. One week I am excited for school, another I am dreading it!
    So the teacher I am taking over for has been amazing. She gave me a lot of her items from the classroom, including 4 binders FULL of lesson plans and materials. I was beyond stoked. I had so much material and pretty much the year planned out for me already!
    There was one problem - I had no idea what a lot of her lesson plans meant. There were a lot of jargon and I wasn't sure about and lots of acronyms I'd never seen. So I do have "lessons" but I cannot interpret many of them....Btw, I am a first year teacher.
    I was told, as a teacher, you're best bet is to beg, borrow, and steal. I definitely will be doing this. So, I was GIVEN lesson plans. I could use these lesson plans; try to figure them out and implement them! Even if I had my own idea, why reinvent the wheel? It's all laid out for me!
    Or...I could use her lesson plans as a resource and, not necessarily start from scratch, but I could try to make my own lessons.
    I am at such a loss...I have no idea what to do.
    I would love to pretend that I don't have those binders and start from scratch, but that seems a bit naive and stupid.
    I have about 3 weeks left until school...I need to get my butt in gear.
     
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  3. agdamity

    agdamity Fanatic

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    Jul 19, 2015

    I think her lessons could be a resource, but I wouldn't necessarily follow them all exactly as she did them. Each group of students is different. I can't reuse all my old lessons--some, the really good ones that I know work, sure; but I have to change things up every year because my classes are so different.

    I would suggest stockpiling ideas you like, and filing them by standard/ unit/ whatever works for you, so you can select the most relevant for your students when the time comes. I find it impossible to plan individual lessons before I know my students.
     
  4. CatfaceMeowmers

    CatfaceMeowmers Companion

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    Jul 19, 2015

    This. This. This.

    I am trying to plan, but I have no idea where to start - as I don't know where any of my students are. I plan to do a pretest the first week or so to get where they need to be!. Oooh, I just thought of something. I could do a pretest the Thursday before Labor day, since we get a 4 day weekend :D
     
  5. readingrules12

    readingrules12 Aficionado

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    Jul 19, 2015

    Think of it as free food at a grocery store. It would be foolish to not look at what items you might want, but it would also be foolish to eat everything in the grocery store without some discernment.

    Use the lessons that would work well for you, but I think you'll find you'll have better success and more fun if you add some ideas of your own. Remember what is easiest isn't always best.
     
  6. Loomistrout

    Loomistrout Devotee

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    Jul 19, 2015

    Any lesson plan will be of questionable worth if it doesn't fit the students who show up. Your idea to do diagnostic-prescriptive testing up front to find out what you are dealing with will go a long way towards mapping and prioritizing skills. Check to see if your math program comes with any pretests and/or end of book test from previous year (modified) should give you a good idea where to put your effort in terms of planning.
     
  7. waterfall

    waterfall Virtuoso

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    Jul 19, 2015

    I agree to use the lessons as a resource. I think this is an unpopular opinion, but personally I find it to be a pretty big waste of time to do a ton of work in the summer "planning ahead" when you don't know anything about the students yet. I tried to do this my first couple of years and eventually realized I was just making myself do the work twice- once in the summer when I was "planning ahead" and then again when school started when I realized how much needed to change based on the students. They may be way behind or way ahead of where you think they are/should be, and that could change everything. If it were me, I would spend some time thinking about your classroom management and routines that you want to set up right away, as well as your activities for the first few days of school. I wouldn't try to plan individual lessons or units beyond that.
     
  8. gr3teacher

    gr3teacher Phenom

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    Jul 19, 2015

    I don't follow my own lesson plans faithfully from year to year without tweaking them and adjusting them... I'm certainly not going to follow somebody else's lesson plans faithfully. They are a resource. Nothing more.
     
  9. Peregrin5

    Peregrin5 Maven

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    Jul 19, 2015

    I would use them as a resource as well.

    When I interned, I got curriculum word for word from my cooperating teaching. My first year, I tossed it all out the window (it wasn't very good anyway) and made all of my own stuff. It was tough. However I still wouldn't say I was starting from scratch. Most of the ideas and things I had gotten from other teachers and other experiences. Even if I was writing my own materials, the ideas of how to teach the content wasn't my own.

    My second and third years, I had most of my stuff already made, and just did a lot of tweaking. Some things I threw out completely and created completely new things. This year I made a whole new unit and am throwing out half of an old one.

    While I prefer to plan during the summer, the type of planning I do is very broad, such as what topics and concepts are we going to be learning. What are our objectives for the year? What are all of the ideas I have to teach all of these objectives (I don't have to use them all). I look for specific materials (or create them) during the year. Honestly I probably spend about 80% of my summer planning time completely redoing my first week of school. I'm never happy with it. The other 20% I spend on the content I'm going to teach throughout the year. I think once you get into the swing of it, it's not too difficult. It's the anticipation of the year starting that freaks me out.
     
  10. DHE

    DHE Connoisseur

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    Jul 19, 2015

    I agree that I would use it as a resource. You need to use what is best for you & your students.
     
  11. teacherintexas

    teacherintexas Maven

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    Jul 19, 2015

    Use them as a starting point if you're floundering. I imagine that soon into the year, you won't need to reference them often.
     
  12. Koriemo

    Koriemo Comrade

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    Jul 19, 2015

    I would feel the same way. Maybe I'm a control freak, but it is so much easier for me to plan things for myself. I've never been good at using resources. If I do use something, it's a very specific item that I've already determined that I need.
     
  13. CatfaceMeowmers

    CatfaceMeowmers Companion

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    This will definitely be a top priority. I definitely know the workbook does, but we just don't have access to the online component of the workbook...and I have no idea when we will have access to it.
     
  14. CatfaceMeowmers

    CatfaceMeowmers Companion

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    Haha, yes! I have spent most of my summer planning my procedures, rules, and all that jazz. I have continuously changed my first day of school procedure about 15 times. There are so many options!
     
  15. misswteaches

    misswteaches Companion

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    Jul 19, 2015

    At PD this summer, it was recommended that first-year teachers follow the previous teacher's plans precisely. I hate that idea. No two teachers are alike, and no two classes are alike.

    Fortunately, it's not an option for me since my combination class is not the same split as last year's. I'm using what I was given as much as possible, but I'm not worried about being just like the teachers before me.
     
  16. MissScrimmage

    MissScrimmage Aficionado

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    Jul 20, 2015

    That is really poor advice from your PD! I took over for a teacher who had been teaching that grade for 20 years. We could not have been more different! I kept all his lesson plans and they were definitely helpful when I was stuck on how to cover a curricular outcome, but I sure didn't follow them religiously. You have to make things your own or the kids will know you're faking it.

    I did, however, leave his lesson plans for him when he would sub in my room. :whistle:
     
  17. Rockguykev

    Rockguykev Connoisseur

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    Jul 20, 2015

    >>Even if I had my own idea, why reinvent the wheel? It's all laid out for me!<<

    Wrong. It's all laid out for the previous teacher. Trying to shoehorn yourself into someone else's plans is a recipe for frustration. There are surely good ideas there but you'll want to figure out what works for you.
     
  18. Geologygirl

    Geologygirl Comrade

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    Jul 21, 2015

    I would take the activities, assignments, and ideas you like from the old plans and make them your own with you own plans setting out how you would like to implement them. I was a first year teacher last year and when teachers were gracious enough to share lessons with me I would take the pieces out I liked and tweak them so they would work in my classroom. I found that planning out a week in advance worked best for me, any further out and timing would be off due to assemblies, timing and pacing. I did have a calendar given to me showing how long should be spent on each chapter of the book which helped with pacing on the block schedule.
    I would get a pacing guide and figure out what you want to cover in week one and start there. Once you start actually teaching you will have a better idea how long things take and your students needs.
     
  19. Mr. Radiohead

    Mr. Radiohead Rookie

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    Jul 24, 2015

    I'm the odd man out here- but I absolutely love planning an entire years worth of ideas over the summer. Day by day. I then use it as a framework to work within. Of course it's not realistic to follow it religiously; days get skipped, lessons get extended or shortened, but there is always a plan looking ahead with master copies/games/task cards ready to go. I find once I have this baseline down, the routine mastered, I can start implementing more advanced teaching techniques in the classroom (such as Number Talks in math). Unless the standards change, the unit was terrible for whatever reason, or I change a grade level, I do not have to recreate units any longer- simple tweaks and edits are fine.

    I absolutely hate looking for something the day of and feel like I am unprepared. The lesson tends to be scattered and the kids know it.

    If I were in this teacher's position I would look at any assessments that the district requires- possibly a 6 week benchmark for ELA and Math. See if I can get a copy of it, and backwards plan from there using the resources left behind by the previous teacher. Once that was in place I would teach in the classroom and figure out what works for me and what doesn't. I would use this knowledge to plan out the next 6 weeks and continue in the pattern until the year ends. I would not recommend planning the entire year in 3 weeks in your first year. That would be completely overwhelming.

    Focus on the first 6 weeks, get your classroom management down, and hang on- it is a fun and wild ride.
     
  20. Aussiegirl

    Aussiegirl Habitué

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    Jul 27, 2015

    :2cents: I also agree with all who have said to use the plans as a resource. Your idea of pre-testing makes sense as well. It sets the tone right away that you are no-nonsense and that they are there to learn. Good luck with your new position!:thumb:
     

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