How many times do you find yourself wishing you had more time to lesson plan? Lesson planning for teachers can drain time and energy. As much as having more hours in the day seems like it would solve lesson planning problems for teachers, it won’t. The reality is we need to find a way to be more productive with the time we have!
Instead of spending time wishing there were more hours in the day, I have three tips to save time and mental energy while lesson planning. I believe implementing these tips will free up brain space so you don’t have to think as much about work outside of work, especially lesson planning.
TIME-SAVING STRATEGIES TO GUIDE LESSON PLANNING FOR TEACHERS:
- Systematize your teaching
- Bach your lesson planning
- Repurpose materials when possible
What does it mean to systematize your teaching?
Think of systematizing as creating a teaching routine for the entire year. Think about your instructional day as a series of time blocks. Instead of deciding on a weekly, or daily, basis what you are going to do with these blocks of times, you are going to make a decision ahead of time on how to make the most out of each time block.
Systematizing your teaching can take away the stress of making daily decisions like:
- How will I teach this lesson?
- What materials do I need?
- How am I going to engage my students?
In the Stellar Teacher Membership, we try to create a system for you and your reading block. Our system makes lesson planning easier for teachers because:
- Teachers know how long each lesson will be and what materials will they use
- Teachers can be more creative with how they deliver the lesson because they know each lesson follows the same process
- Students start to feel more confident because they are familiar with the structure of their reading block
What does this whole group system look like?
- Introduction: The purpose of the introduction is to connect the lesson to prior learning. Share an analogy or short story that leads into the lesson.
- Objective: Its beneficial to have a slide with definitions, step-by-step instructions, questions, and any other details related to the objective.
- Example: The example might be a chart, diagram, short text, sentences, or phrases. The example will vary depending on the objective, but it is a concrete to model the objective for students.
- Discuss & Engage: It is important to include time for students to discuss questions related to the objective. Provide two questions or prompts to help students talk about what they’re learning.
- Extend: Allow time for your students to put what they’ve learned to work!
By systematizing the whole group lesson, lesson planning for teachers becomes more about how the lesson will be taught and less about what needs to be done to set up the lesson.
The benefit of creating a system like this is that you won’t spending time guessing how you will teach your objective. Your lesson planning is streamlined. You know you need:
- To introduce the objective by either connecting it to prior learning or sharing an analogy or short story
- A teaching slide to help you teach new content
- To find an example or two to model to students
- To develop two turn-and-talk questions
- To find an assignment to share with your students at the end
Check out my year long bundle of Reading Mini Lesson Slides to incorporate this system in your lesson planning right away! It is also important to remember that systemizing your lesson planning may not work for every single objective, but it should work for most.
The example I used for systematizing was for whole group reading lessons. But you can systematize your small group lessons, word study lessons, morning routine, centers, writing block, and even your end-of-day routine!
Remember, you get to decide what books and texts you teach with, how your students collaborate, and the energy you bring to your lesson. There are always ways to create engaging lessons even while following a system.
What does it mean to batch your lesson planning?
When you batch your planning, you are doing a series of like things or tasks in one sitting. For example, you might batch plan all your whole group lessons for the entire week in one sitting. This means in one lesson planning block, you will:
- Write all your lesson plans
- Create all your teaching slides or anchor chart
- Generate all your questions for whole group discussion
- Find all your examples and other materials
The idea behind this strategy for teacher lesson planning is: the more you do the same thing the more efficient you become. Instead of writing two questions for one lesson, a batch approach looks like writing ten questions to cover two weeks of lessons. That is a more effective use of your brain power!
What are some other examples of batch planning?
- Finding passages, texts, or library books
- Creating anchor charts/slides
- Filing papers
- Making copies
Lesson planning for teachers can be a high source of stress. The art of batching can create peace of mind. Batching can help you free up mental space, create healthy boundaries around work, and become more intentional about what you’re doing inside and outside the classroom.
What does it look like to repurpose materials?
Repurposing materials simply means you are being intentional about the resources you use so they can be used in a variety of ways.
Repurposing materials might look like:
Using the same text for multiple objectives. So instead of finding five texts for five objectives, you’ve found one text you can use to teach five objectives.
- Using a text for a read-aloud.
- Using the same text to model summarizing.
- Using a handful of words from the text to teach prefixes and suffixes.
- Using examples of complex sentences from the text to help your students deconstruct a sentence.
- Using a text with a cross-curricular connection allows you to use the same text in your social studies or science block as well.
Using an anchor chart in a variety of ways. If you spend time creating a resource, get the most out of it!
- Use it to teach a lesson.
- Create a fill-in-the-blank template of the anchor chart for students to use for notes.
- Take a photo of the anchor chart and print it out for students to glue into their notebooks.
- Email the photo to the adults in your students’ life so they know what their students are working on in class.
- Use as reference material at a workstation or during centers.
- Use as a resource for absent students so they can review what they’ve missed.
Repurposing materials is a time-saving strategy for lesson planning. Because you aren’t spending time looking for a new text, book, article, etc. for every single thing you teach you will have more time for other tasks!
Let’s review the three time-saving strategies to simplify lesson planning for teachers:
- Automate and systematize your teaching
- Batch your lesson planning and prep work
- Consider how you can repurpose content
Even if you did just one of these strategies to streamline your lesson planning, you’d get value and start saving time. But if make a commitment to all three, I think you’d be amazed at the amount of time you’ll save and mental clarity you’ll gain!
Put It Into Practice:
- Download my free Mini Lesson Planning Pack to help you get started with a systematized way to teach your reading mini lessons.
- Listen to Episode #92 How to Save Time This Upcoming School Year to learn more about these three time-saving strategies for teacher lesson planning.
- Join us inside The Stellar Teacher Reading Membership where you will get access to a resource library filled with resources to help save time and mental energy this school year.
Grab this free story elements lesson!
Mini-Lesson Plan and Sample Slides
I love helping teachers save time. With this freebie, you’ll get everything you need to teach a stellar reading lesson on story elements found in fiction texts. You get a scripted lesson plan, anchor chart, mini graphic organizer, and a set of slides to guide you through your whole group lesson.