I was browsing around the other day, and the topic of planning came up. It's a necessary part of any efficient teacher workflow, unless you want to sit at your desk and handout worksheets every day. In previous years I will think up something great while planning a lesson, but won't write it down and will forget all about Wonderful Example A or Relevant Fact B when it comes time to deliver. Last year I had three classes to plan for and the process seemed to take forever. I would open up our district's lesson plan entry website and make things up as I went along, flipping through the textbook as I went. I wound up with some decently typed lessons but always had a problem of forgetting what I was doing on a given day because I didn't write it down anywhere else. This year I tackled that inefficiency and implemented a plan that's been working very well.

This image sums it up:


This all happens at some point over the weekend for the week ahead. Lesson plans are due by Monday morning of the applicable week. I spend 2-3 hours doing this depending on how many in-class items I need to prepare.

Step 1: I bust out my giant calendar and sketch out a broad idea of topics I want to cover. I used to write textbook section numbers but I remember things better if I use the exact topic name. This calendar has school holidays, testing days, and grade deadlines on it to help map out when tests should be. (Time: 15 minutes)

Step 2: I write my lessons. If I have a lot to go on I'll give details on the warm up, topics that need to be introduced, examples I want to use and reference things like "in-class problem set" if I want to have some free work time or details about a project if we're doing a poster or something else that day. If it's a test day, I write out the topics on the test. Any stories or videos that are relevant to the topic get a note here so I remember to tell/show them. I reference this book during the week if I forget something. (Time: 30 minutes)

Step 3: I determine if there's anything I need to make based on what I wrote and I sketch it out in this second notebook. If I'm giving a test, I write out the test in here before typing it. If I want them to do 5 quick example problems on a topic, I jot them down here. If I need materials for an activity, I make a note to get them in here. I produce these items either the same day I write all the lessons or throughout the week if I can wait a little while. (Time: 1-2 hours)

Step 4: Type lesson plans into the district planning website. (Time: 15 minutes)

There's enough redudancy in here that by the time I've mapped out things on the calendar, written the lesson by hand, typed up the problem sets, and re-typed the lessons into the website, I have the whole routine more or less memorized. So at night during the week I'm maybe kicking out a problem set at worst and answering the question "what am I doing tomorrow?" in less than 5 minutes.

AuthorJonathan Claydon