I hear from teachers often that they are spending over an hour planning each week. Does that sound like you?
Well, it just doesn’t have to be that way! I am never spending over an hour planning, many times much less!
So, let’s get down to 10 easy and actionable tips!
Tip #1: BATCH
This time is ESSENTIAL. If you are not batching your planning, you are doing it wrong. It is that simple.
Now, what does that mean?
It means you are planning all the same content for a certain period of time in one sitting.
So, for me, the first week of the month I am planning all the reading for the entire month.
The second week, all the math. The third week, all my social studies and science. The final week of the month I am doing any guided reading planning.
You can plan a whole month in one week for one subject. When you batch, you work more efficiently, you are more focused so you come up with a higher quality plan, and you feel much more successful.
You also could choose to sit down one day a month and just plan everything for the entire month. So, at the end of September, I might take one Saturday to plan for my entire month. I am never working outside of work all month again because I am all done.
Tip #2: Weekly Plan
Do you have a weekly plan when it comes to planning? A plan for a plan is essential.
Here is what mine looks like:
Monday: Find all ideas on TpT, Pinterest, etc. for that subject of the week.
Tuesday: Put all ideas into my lesson planning format and print off anything that would need copied/prepared for the next month.
Wednesday: Copy and laminate everything that needs to be prepared for the next month in that subject.
Thursday: Tie any loose ends for the planning for that entire month of that subject.
Tip #3: Month Bins
Each month I have a bin. In that bin, I put all the copies of things I didn’t use the previous years, books that correspond with that month, and activities I like to do every year in that month.
This way when I go to plan for the entire month I grab that bin and start there!
Tip #4: Limit Distractions
Guys, you have to limit distractions when you are planning.
No cell phones, no trying to multi-task. Sit down and do the work.
I like to take an entire planning period to plan. I will shut my classroom door, turn off my notifications, put on some quiet music, and get to work. I work the entire planning period and let nothing disrupt me.
Tip #5: Have an Outline/Pacing Guide
If you don’t have an outline of your year or a pacing guide, you need one.
I have one for each subject. It is essential for my planning. Then, I look at the pacing guide and just have to go and search through the materials. I am not checking for which standards I need to teach and such because I already did that when I planned my pacing guide.
Do you want my FREE reading and writing pacing guide?! Check it out here!
Tip #6: Get with a Teaching Friend
Planning with someone else makes it so much easier!!
For me, I plan all the reading for my grade level and my friend plans all the math. Then, we sit down and discuss it together one day a week and make sure we don’t have anything else we want to change or add.
If you want to plan everything together, that is great, but make sure that you are committed to staying on task the entire time.
Then, split up the copies. I copy all the reading for my grade level, someone else the math, etc. When you are copying large amounts of one or two things it is easier than copying small amounts for a ton of items.
Tip #7: Use Scaffolding or Centers
Having a scaffolded way of teaching makes planning so much easier.
For example, when I plan reading it always looks like this:
Monday: Introduce the standard in an engaging way
Tuesday: Do a whole group mentor text and guided practice
Wednesday: Do a small group guided practice
Thursday: Do a partner project
Friday: Do an individual assessment that goes with a mentor text
Read more about my reading planning here!
So, when I go to plan I already know what type of activities I will plan each day. It makes it much quicker and easier.
Another way to do it is through centers. For math, I only teach in centers.
Every day is the same for my plan…
M: Math Facts (technology or flashcards)
A: At your seat (worksheet)
T: Teacher Time (this is where I plan exactly what standard I am teaching them)
H: Hands-On (game)
Having these outlines make planning SO.MUCH.EASIER.
Tip #8: Have a Fun Planning Ritual
Everything is better when you have a routine and a ritual behind it.
For me, I always grab a La Croix, a flair pen, and put on my favorite music. Then, when I finish I always have a small treat. This reward makes all the focus worth it!
Your ritual could be ANYTHING, but having something to look forward to makes planning much easier.
Tip #9: Daily Planning
Every day before I am able to leave school I pull out my next day and write in my paper planner what I am doing.
All my monthly plans live in my digital planner, but my day to day life lives in my paper planner.
Because I am planning for a month at a time I need to set aside that five minutes each day to make sure that I am 100% ready for the next day and that nothing changed.
But, I am leaving at our leaving time and not staying after school AT ALL. So, I know that I only have five minutes to get it done.
Tip #10: Find Easy to Use Resources
Stop searching for every activity separately. Find something you like and then all you have to do is plug in what days you are doing what!
For example, my reading skill lesson plans are full lesson plans for an entire week of learning. All I do is print them off for the standard that we are learning each week, pick out what I need to copy, and highlight what activities I am doing.
It takes 10 minutes.
There are tons of amazing resources out there just like that. But finding something that fits your teaching style and is easy prep makes planning SO.MUCH.EASIER.
I would love to hear some of your planning tips. Put them in the comments below!