How ahead are you in planning?

Discussion in 'General Education' started by Peregrin5, Jan 16, 2017.

  1. Peregrin5

    Peregrin5 Maven

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    Jan 16, 2017

    I know a large part of this is determined by how long you've been teaching your particular course, how well established it is, and whether or not you have other teachers on your team pulling their weight and contributing.

    Last year was nice, because I essentially had my entire year planned out almost before school even started, and my only responsibility planning wise was to make copies and make adjustments as necessary.

    This year, I am teaching 2 (3 if you count advisory) courses that I have never taught before, and one is completely new anyway, so there's nothing to build off of. I am lucky to be at a point where I have the entire rest of my year in biology planned (thanks to Teachers pay Teachers) and some of my own legwork, but I feel constantly thrown off balance by my other science course. There is no clear curriculum about what we're supposed to teach or about which standards we need to hit so we've kind of been choosing our own.

    I have two other teachers I'm supposed to be working with, but working in a group seems to hinder more than help (making me more sympathetic to my students who bemoan group work, lol), and I seem to be the only one really contributing much in terms of staying ahead in our planning. Because of how I am, I have tentatively planned out to April on my calendar, but it could be longer or shorter. My last unit went WAY longer, but I still am not great at getting a hold on block period scheduling so I feel like I might have underplanned my next units' lessons (which is okay too, since I can just pull from the next day's activities).

    After experiencing a year of being completely on top of my planning, I have to say that I HATE feeling like this. Especially since I'm responsible for a lot of extra things this year as well (afterschool tutoring, teaching AVID to other teachers, 2 National Board components, plus typical evaluations from the admin and the paperwork associated with that). I've spent this three day weekend attempting to get this next upcoming unit polished and ready.

    How ahead are you in your planning?
     
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  3. agdamity

    agdamity Fanatic

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    I've taught the same grade for the last nine years. I have this week's plans done. I have a general idea where I'm going, but so much planning determines on how well my class is mastering what I'm teaching. I never know more than a few days ahead what I am doing in writing. I analyze each writing assignment to determine what skill i need to work on next (i.e., do we need more work on supporting our reasons, or are we ready to move on to counterargunents?).
     
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  4. Peregrin5

    Peregrin5 Maven

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    Jan 16, 2017

    I think that's one of the interesting differences between different subjects. Of course I have to formatively assess and adjust my plans with science, but science, most of what they are learning that I have to plan for is content. There are specific skills involved, but those are spirally taught throughout the year so we always come back to them.

    The majority of my planning is creating activities and lectures to teach a specific concept or idea in different ways where as teaching writing is more about practicing the same skills in different ways. I'm sure after nine years you probably have a lot of activities that you can draw on when you realize that students aren't fully understanding a particular skill. I had a similar database and collection to draw from if I noticed that my students were struggling with something, but with a new subject, I'm starting from scratch. xP

    Because science is very concept based and there are specific concepts they need to know, I can generally plan out the year of what we are going to do when, and if changes need to be made, I can just make adjustments. I infinitely prefer that to not having any idea where I'm going next week.
     
  5. DobbyChatt

    DobbyChatt Rookie

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    Jan 16, 2017

    I'm always suspicious of anyone that plans more than a week in advance (I'm referring to specific plans, not the general stuff). I have colleagues that supposedly do it, though. Planning just depends on so many factors that are impossible to control beforehand.
     
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  6. chemteach55

    chemteach55 Connoisseur

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    Jan 16, 2017

    I have taught chemistry for 18 years and I just planned for this week. Yes I know for the most part what subject I am teaching each week for the whole year but what activities I use to teach it varies based on the students I am teaching (their interests and abilities) and what I feel like doing.
     
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  7. linswin23

    linswin23 Cohort

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    Jan 16, 2017

    I know what my next unit is going to be (we have finals this week) and am sketching out this next week. I usually stay a week ahead. This is my 6th year, but first year teaching the grade level I am in.
     
  8. Peregrin5

    Peregrin5 Maven

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    Out of curiosity can you give me an example of a change you'd make based on your students interests and abilities (vs. what you'd normally do)?
     
  9. Peregrin5

    Peregrin5 Maven

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    I plan specific activities and such at least a few months ahead of time (if not longer). I make changes as necessary, and that usually happens daily, (i.e. we didn't have enough time for a particular activity or kids need more time with something or other, or a better idea came up that I want to do instead). But having that specific plan ahead of time gives me a lot of mental comfort. For instance, if something come up that made me lose my planning time for that week, I would have something to fall back on. At worst, I would just need to make a few changes to my current plan.

    For me, the majority of my planning changes is just dragging the Google Calendar event (how I plan my lessons) to a different day, or changing a few lines in it, adding a different or additional hand-outs that I find or create, or make changes to a powerpoint.

    One of my worst nightmares is that I come into school one day and realize that I didn't have anything planned for the day and nothing is prepared. lol.

    What factors are you speaking of? (other than where students are at, or other extenuating factors like unplanned fire-drills)
     
    Last edited: Jan 16, 2017
  10. agdamity

    agdamity Fanatic

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    I teach fifth grade, all subjects. Before teaching fifth, I taught fourth for three years and seventh grade English before that. I've never been able to plan, in detail, more than two weeks out in any subject. Every group needs different things, and sometimes, the bank of activities in my file cabinet just don't meet the needs of my current group, so I'm always on the search for new methods.
     
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  11. Peregrin5

    Peregrin5 Maven

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    Jan 16, 2017

    Same. Even last year, when everything was planned from the beginning, I changed things up weekly from my original plan I created at the beginning of the year, often creating completely new materials when it was needed. But again, it was a lot less stressful to make changes or add or change an activity than create every single activity completely anew or plan each day from scratch. Having the rest of my plans set up allowed me to focus on improving the activities I already had or spend time creating and prepping exceptional new activities that would normally be too ambitious to try, rather than focusing on keeping my head above water. Or spend my time meaningfully reflecting on my practice and finding new ways to improve it and engage students. It gave me the breathing room I needed to be a much more effective and responsive teacher.
     
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  12. otterpop

    otterpop Phenom

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    Jan 16, 2017

    We have a curriculum that provides- Week 1, Week 2, etc. Each week has 5 days of lessons. So, I mostly try to stick with that. The only changes I make are when we have a short week (like this week), and I only do that sometimes. If it's a four day week, I try to condense my regular week, but if it's less than that or if we have special events or holidays going on, I'll postpone the weekly unit. I had my whole year mapped out for which week I'd teach when, but I have fallen slightly behind.

    For other subjects, social studies in particular, I tend to fall behind. One week of lessons often takes two weeks. We have a lot of school schedule interruptions at that time of the day.
     
  13. teacherintexas

    teacherintexas Maven

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    I have the next six weeks' activities mapped out and tentatively placed. I won't be able to cut and paste my plans in though because they change so. I'll add activities I find later or have to reteach or adjust for those lost minutes from surprise assemblies or events.

    My advance plans are more of a plan to plan. :D
     
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  14. miss-m

    miss-m Groupie

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    Jan 17, 2017

    I have some lessons I'm reusing from student teaching that are completely planned for most of this semester, and some for the next science unit, but I only plan about a week out. Since I'm reusing lessons this semester I'm going to try to start getting an extra week ahead, but my class surprises me with what they know or don't know and I don't have time to plan more than a week out.
     
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  15. MrsC

    MrsC Multitudinous

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    Jan 17, 2017

    We need to do a rough outline of the year to submit to admin by the end of October; this is really just the big ideas and major assignments. I do rough unit plans for each unit and need to have plans for the next 3 days on my desk at all times.
     
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  16. Backroads

    Backroads Aficionado

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    Jan 17, 2017

    We are required to turn in a curriculum map at the beginning of the school year. However, this is encouraged to be a living document that we can tweak or overhaul as we desire.

    I follow the gist of my curriculum map and try to keep a week ahead on detailed plans, but really, so much of it depends on exactly what is happening with the students.
     
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  17. ms.irene

    ms.irene Connoisseur

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    I have a Pace Chart with lessons and assessments planned out, and I mostly have lessons from last year to pull from, so most of my planning involves making sure we are on pace and re-evaluating lessons and activities to see what I can add or refine.
     
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  18. Bioguru

    Bioguru Companion

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    Jan 17, 2017

    This is my 7th year to teach the same subjects. Like most others have said, I already have a very detailed map of where I'm heading every year. Throughout each week I'll monitor where we're at and adjust to spend more/less time on a topic; I tend to stay about 1-2 weeks ahead when it comes to specific daily lesson plans.
     
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  19. 2ndTimeAround

    2ndTimeAround Phenom

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    Jan 17, 2017

    Yeah, I have general plans for the entire year. But I need to tweak them week to week. Sometimes day to day. Depending on my students at the time.
     
  20. AdamnJakesMommy

    AdamnJakesMommy Habitué

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    LOL, I am a COMPULSIVE planner. This school year was planned out before I finished LAST SCHOOL YEAR. I'm working on revamping my planning (switching around, changing resources, etc.) for NEXT year now. I have 8 binders, 4 for ELA and 4 for Social Studies (1 binder per 9 weeks per subject). I have dividers sectioning off the weeks with each section filled with the interactive notebook resources, notes, activities, etc. that I plan on doing that week of the 9 weeks.

    Of course, I tweak and rearrange as needed during the year, depending upon student needs, time constraints, etc., but I would go absolutely BONKERS if I didn't have stuff planned out to a T.
     
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  21. mathmagic

    mathmagic Enthusiast

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    Jan 19, 2017

    At the beginning of the year, we created a generic curriculum map that guides our year. At any given time, I can tell you exactly where we're going with any given subject over the course of the next week or two. That being said, I truly "plan" plan a week out, day-by-day, or a few days at a time, depending on the subject and where we're at in that subject's arc. For example, math tends to be more straightforward and blocked out, so that's usually "plan" planned a good week out (and really, I have ActivBoard presentations for literally every lesson that tends to follow along with my daily plan). For each writing unit, the beginning is much more set/structured, so I can plan that out multiple days ahead. The second go-around with a type of writing, and the editing/revising days tend to be planned the day before or a couple days out, as I'm looking for specific areas of struggle and focusing mini-lessons and whole-group instruction on those areas. For this last time, I ended up deciding on doing mini-lessons on the conclusion, adding detail, avoiding run-ons, and one other thing that I'm blanking on right now. Next year it might be wildly different.

    Again though, I can look at any of my subjects and speak to what's to come. It's just the nitty gritty details that get ironed out in the approach to each lesson.
     
  22. Peregrin5

    Peregrin5 Maven

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    This is so me too! Other teachers think I'm crazy that I plan months ahead let alone sometimes years ahead. I also have a crazy binder system laid out unit by unit. I'm very proud of my Biology binder. I just need to be planned and know exactly what I'm doing (or could be doing with a few tweaks or changes) otherwise I am just ten times more stressed than I usually am.
     
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  23. ms.irene

    ms.irene Connoisseur

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    I'm not a binder person, although I tried lol...I have a system of file folders with a drawer for each class (actually two for WL), a hanging file for each unit, and subfolders for different types of activities. It is so gratifying to open up that drawer and know that everything I need is in there!

    And then there's my Google Drive, with every lesson plan, activity, and presentation I have ever made, all categorized in folders by class and unit...I love my Google Drive! I almost cried tears of happiness when I opened it for the first time this year and saw all my plans from last year all organized by date and subject.
     
  24. Backroads

    Backroads Aficionado

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    We are kindred spirits. I learned how to make binders and files work for me, and I can use them just fine.

    But, oh, what Google Drive has done for my planning and organization!
     
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  25. Peregrin5

    Peregrin5 Maven

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    Everything is in Google Drive for me as well. I use a combination of Google Drive, and a Google Calendar add-on that lets me add Google Drive files to Google Calendar events to plan most of my lessons. I create an event for each day, write a general progression of activities and attach each file we would use that day. It's accessible on my website too so if students are absent they can just find all of the files for the day they were gone and print them or follow the presentations/videos. Making a change to plans is just me dragging the calendar event block to a different day or editing a few lines of text in the event descriptions.

    Everything in my Biology binder are various activities, lessons, and notes that I've just printed from Google Drive and I placed them in my binder in the order that I would copy them and give them to students as hand-outs. We use an organized binder system in my class, so each page is numbered using that system and students have to put it into their binders in the same order.

    Has done wonders for students who lose papers often and time lost asking students to find x page and them digging through their backpacks forever.

    I think my (figurative) OCD is linked to my need to plan very far ahead...
     
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