Planning, Planning, and more Planning

Discussion in 'Secondary Education' started by newengltchr, Oct 19, 2014.

  1. newengltchr

    newengltchr Rookie

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    Oct 19, 2014

    Hi, everyone:

    This is my first year as a high school English teacher. I teach grades 10, 11, and 12. So far, I have had a pretty good start to the year despite a few road bumps in the beginning; however, I feel slightly behind when it comes to planning. I can think of multiple teachers who have every week planned up until December break and some up until the end of the year. I tried planning months in advance, but it became too overwhelming. The students at my school are lower than most schools in the surrounding area. Something that might take 1-2 weeks in your school would take 3-5 weeks in my school. Anyways, I always like to have a plan and to have it aligned to the Common Core (although pretty much everything in ELA hits a CC standard), but I am finding it to be too much to plan past one week. Other teachers in the building told me that they didn't have their lessons and units fully completed and aligned to the standards until their third or fourth year teaching.

    I'm just wondering what other people think. Next year, I will not have three preps; therefore, I am slightly hesitant to spend a substantial amount of time creating plans for each grade level. Do you think it's okay to plan from week to week? How long did it take you to completely align everything that you're doing? I'm finding that there are things that I've taught that I would not teach again, things that I spent too little time on, things that I spent too much time on, etc. Is this normal as a first year teacher? Thank you.
     
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  3. Caesar753

    Caesar753 Multitudinous

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    Oct 19, 2014

    I plan week to week. If I'm feeling particularly ambitious, I might plan two weeks in advance. I dislike planning longer out than that because I like the freedom to adjust my plans so that I can reteach and reassess or even move a little more quickly through the material if my students need it.
     
  4. readingrules12

    readingrules12 Aficionado

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    Oct 19, 2014

    I disagree with this. I especially think it is a bad idea as your first year teaching. I plan a week ahead.

    I do try to look ahead and get a bit prepared. For example, in Science our state standards are basically split into 6 categories (units). For example, I look ahead and decide that I am going to teach The Human Body in the second half of 3rd quarter. I glance at the standards and start deciding what resources I might need for this unit. I know I might want to gather some resources before then, otherwise I will be swamped by the time I teach that unit. I spend probably only an hour a week looking ahead like this, and the rest of the time focused on the week at hand. If it is a super busy week, I probably won't even spend that hour looking ahead.
     
  5. dgpiaffeteach

    dgpiaffeteach Aficionado

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    Oct 19, 2014

    I plan a rough draft of each month over the summer. I use a calendar page and just put things like "Macbeth-Act I" for a few days. I'm not married to my plans though. I have a group this year that is very quiet and negative. I took a survey to see which work they'd rather do next. I teach thematically and it's not a huge deal to move things around, so I don't mind doing it. I love having the plans though so I have an idea of what I want to accomplish.
     
  6. Shanoo

    Shanoo Habitué

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    Oct 19, 2014

    I think that if you're able to plan week to week in your first year, you're doing just fine. My first year, I was often planning day by day.

    I'm 8 years in and I still only plan week by week. I have a general overview of what I want to do and when throughout the year, but I find that if I plan any further ahead, I end up having to change it anyway because of unexpected things - a snow day, a surprise assembly, kids needed more time because they just didn't get it. I found it ended up increasing my workload.

    So, for example, I know that I'm doing a unit on measurement right now. I knew going in the order in which I wanted to teach the outcomes and approximately how many days each would take. I will sit down this afternoon to plan out what we're going to do each day for this week and make sure my examples and activities are in order for each day.
     
  7. 2ndTimeAround

    2ndTimeAround Phenom

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    Oct 19, 2014

    I have a skeleton plan for the month. Very much like what a previous poster said. I'll have the general topics that I want to cover and an approximate number of days I think I'll take on the subject.

    Then I plan week to week. I even adjust within the week. These plans are much more detailed with the activities I want to do, quizzes, homework to assign, even the number of powerpoint slides I will cover each day.
     
  8. Linguist92021

    Linguist92021 Phenom

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    Oct 19, 2014

    You don't have to plan everything out in detail months ahead.
    This year I wasn't quite as organized as last year, but now since 2nd quarter started I caught up and I feel better.

    I like to have an overall idea of what I'm going to teach up to winter break, with more definite ideas for the next month. I don't sit down and plan everything in detail until the week (weekend) before because ideas for additional activities keep popping up, we also have some interruptions, such as field trips with a large number of students going, and on those day I only plan enrichment activities.

    This is my second year at this school (and second year teaching if I don't count 9 month LTS).
    This year is easier in some respects but harder in others.
    Classroom management seems to be so much easier than last year. Planning however takes up more time, last year I had English + 1 elective (at the end of the year I had English + PE, which I did with another teacher, no planning needed, + independent study online, also no planning needed, just some grading). Now I have English + 2 different electives. Geography takes about as much planning as my English classes, and my other elective ELD was even harder because I had no curriculum, and the plans I was given, I didn't like. Now that I have found the textbook and work books for ELD, it's no problem.

    As far as what next year holds: don't worry about it. Next year you might not teach 12 grade, but you might the year after that. And weather you plan week to week or way ahead of month, you come up with the same amount of plans. Make sure you keep everything, every single hand out, powerpoint, quiz, test, because you never know when you're going to teach it.
     
  9. Nichole906

    Nichole906 Rookie

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    Oct 19, 2014

    Do what works for you. Some teachers do well and feel better planning far ahead; others do better week to week or even day to day.
     
  10. Peregrin5

    Peregrin5 Maven

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    Oct 19, 2014

    I plan week to week as well. The only thing I'm unhappy with is that i do my planning over the weekend and that reduces my free time. I would like to plan ahead by a week each day (i.e. on Monday plan for next Monday, etc.)
     
  11. beccmo

    beccmo Comrade

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    Oct 20, 2014

    My first 2 years I planned a week at a time. Physics I teach every year so now I can pretty much plan up to 3 weeks at a time. There is no guarantee I will get the same preps other than that one, so I am still on pretty much one week to 8 days of planning. There are still times I feel like I am planning day to day!
     
  12. mathmagic

    mathmagic Enthusiast

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    Oct 20, 2014

    I'm a first year, and been planning day-to-day mostly until now, and am getting closer and closer to being able to do week-to-week successfully, though that might not fully come for a while.

    A follow-up to your question for all:
    How long does it tend to take you to plan for a week in one given subject? (Or, alternatively, all subjects)
     
  13. dgpiaffeteach

    dgpiaffeteach Aficionado

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    To actually jot down the activities and standards? 15 minutes max per prep for a whole week. Obviously longer to gather, create, and print my materials!
     
  14. Peregrin5

    Peregrin5 Maven

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    Oct 21, 2014

    It probably takes me about 1-2 solid hours (not getting distracted) to plan a full week.

    I do it very thoroughly though, by creating a unit concept map, then sequencing my units, and then breaking it down into the week.

    It takes me longer to make the materials as well.
     
  15. bluegill

    bluegill Rookie

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    Oct 21, 2014

    I am a first year high school English teacher and I teach 10th and 12th graders. Likewise, I am never more than a week ahead in my planning. I develop a general weekly lesson plan and I develop my daily lesson plans the day before I teach them, sometimes even the day that I teach them during my prep hour.

    I like things the way they are, except I'd like to make better use of my prep hours. Sometimes I just don't have time to plan the night before, though.

    It takes me about an hour to develop a plan for one class and I have 3 preps. Of course, I take my sweet time, too, and let everything distract me!
     
  16. TamaraF

    TamaraF Companion

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    Oct 23, 2014

    Welcome to teaching English! I recommend planning a very basic schedule, like "Sept: Writing essays. Oct: Short stories. Nov: Poetry and begin Shakespeare". After you've taught your subjects for a few years you will know exactly what works and what doesn't. Keep excellent records in your day book. Then next year, you have a day by day plan, ready to go!
     
  17. ms.irene

    ms.irene Connoisseur

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    Oct 23, 2014

    What a great idea! I am saving my plans as Google docs but always make changes on the fly due to timing. Keeping a daily log would help me remember what worked and what I wanted to do differently for next year. That is, if I am in my same position for next year (fingers crossed!).
     
  18. newengltchr

    newengltchr Rookie

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    Oct 29, 2014

    Thank you

    Thank you, everyone! I appreciate all of the detailed feedback. It's great to know that I am experiencing what other teachers went through, too. Thanks again.
     

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