A Note From the (Veteran) Teacher’s Desk

Guest post by Leana Malinowsky

Preparing for a new school year is one of the most exciting times for teachers, but it can also be an anxious and uncertain time, especially if it’s your first year (or second or even third!). Summer is an excellent time to start thinking about and preparing for the upcoming year. As educators, we are always thinking about our classrooms and future students, even when we are catching up on resting, meeting friends, and visiting the beach.

Lesson planning is an essential part of our work, and using time during the summer is beneficial to get a head start. Before selecting a template, or that “just right” activity, there are a few strategies to consider first before starting lesson plans:

  • Review your grade level/ subject curriculum- This is going to feel overwhelming at first because most curriculums are voluminous, however, it’s not necessary to read it all at once! Start with the first unit or two (depending on how it's organized) and keep a notebook nearby to write down ideas you have for lessons as you read. Be prepared to reread certain parts, and make note of the standards you cover in that unit. It’s also helpful to just skim through the rest to get an overall picture of the year and skills you will teach; you can reread it in detail later!

  • Confer with other teachers- Reach out to other teachers on your team (grade level, department, etc.) to help you get ideas for how the curriculum flows, lessons that are shared such as grade-level projects, and other points you might otherwise not discover through reading. Keep in mind that curriculums are updated every so often (usually during the summer). Don’t hesitate to ask your team members what updates they are aware of and complete the updates. He or she serves as an excellent point person to talk to! You can get the “inside view” of what changes to expect, which will save you from making plans based on an old version of the curriculum.

  • Start Small- Early in the year, focus on building relationships with your students. Using SEL books or having team-building lessons to solve a problem is fun and engaging, but they also cover more academic skills that we often recall. Do not put pressure on yourself to start lesson one on day one! It’s the small moments we experience that truly prepare us for the rest of the year. Be sure to write these plans first so you are prepared and be ready for more ideas to flow! Working on these plans gives you practice for others, and serves as a launchpad for creativity to include students’ needs and interests, which are essential to effective lesson planning.

Checked these off your list? Then you are ready to write your plans and get ready for back to school!

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