Lesson planning is a necessary evil of teaching. Teachers spend hours every week typing and writing out the perfect lesson plans. But what if it didn’t have to take that long? What if you could do all of your planning in half the time that it currently takes you?
I am a 90s child. I wore neon socks, teased my bangs with tons of hairspray, and was in the Boys II Men fan club. My brother and I were latch key kids and we stayed home alone all summer while our parents worked. Nearly every afternoon was spent watching Saved by the Bell while eating a heaping bowl of Kraft Mac and Cheese. We saw every single episode at least 10-15 times, but there is one that stands out to me all of these years later.
Jessie Spano was so stressed trying to balance school, her boyfriend, and her singing group. In order to keep up with the demands, she started taking caffeine pills. In this memorable episode, Jessie has a breakdown.
TIME??! There’s never any time! I don’t have time to study! I’ll never get into Stanford! I’ll let everyone down! I’m so confused!Jessie from Saved by the Bell
Do you ever feel like Jessie? You are balancing teaching, lesson planning, grading, meetings, parents, and your. entire personal life. It can make anyone feel like having a Jessie sized break down!
But, here is the good news: Simple habits can save you time. Saving time can help you to feel more balanced.
Let’s start by talking about the lesson plans. Here are some tips for saving time when lesson planning:
Batch Your Lesson Plans
When you bake cookies do you ever just bake one cookie from scratch? Then do you bake another cookie when you want one tomorrow? And bake another one over the weekend? Does that sound crazy to you? Does that sound like a serious waste of time? Yes! It is! You would waste so much time and energy getting out all of the ingredients, mixing, baking, and cleaning up every day. Instead, it makes more sense to get everything out and make a dozen or two!
The same is true with lesson planning. Every week you waste time and energy doing your math, reading, writing, science, and social studies lesson plans. You have to get out your pacing guides, text books, and purchased resources. You are spending time searching on Pinterest for projects for summarizing, western expansion and the rock cycle. Then you have to clean it all up and start over again next week.
Instead, consider batching your plans. Sit down one day and write math lesson plans for the next month or longer. You will only need your math resources. You will only need to think about math. This planning will go quicker than you think. It takes less time to plan four weeks of one subject than it does to plan one week of content for four subjects!
After you get those math plans done, schedule some time to do the same for your reading plans. Only focus on reading.
Planning ahead gives you more time to prep resources, purchase materials, and be prepared for the lesson. No more standing in line at the copy machine at 7:45am on a Monday morning!
Do you want to learn more about batching and have a step-by-step plan for batching all of your lesson plans? Check out THIS podcast episode.
Use Resource Bundles When Lesson Planning
Please tell me that I am not alone…
I sit down to do my lesson planning. We are going to be doing some geography lessons this week. I know that I want to make these lessons fun and effective, so I head over to Pinterest to do some searching. While I am on Pinterest, I see a pin that has a recipe for chocolate marshmallow brownies. Mmmmm…that sounds good, I’ll save it. That reminds me! I’m grocery shopping tomorrow and I feel ambitious. I want to try a new recipe. I’ll do a search for “child-friendly dinner recipes.” (Note: I do this because I am a picky eater, not necessarily because of my kids!) I spend the next half of an hour pinning recipes that I am highly unlikely to ever try. I also found a great geography art project. That’s a win!
Now I need some passages to go with my art project. I head over to TPT. As soon as I log in, I see that one of the sellers I am following is having a sale. I better check out her store. No geography resources, but I do add lots of fun things to my cart. (I won’t buy most of them.) Another half of an hour has passed. I finally have my passages.
Anybody lesson plan a little like this?
I learned the very hard way how much time this wastes. Without realizing it, I was spending tons time searching Pinterest and TPT every single week for multiple subjects. The social media distractions made lesson planning seem never ending.
Find year-long resource bundles on TPT for subjects that you don’t have curriculum for. Look for bundles that have consistent resources for the entire year. Choose the bundle that best meets your standards.
Now you don’t have to spend as much time searching each week! For the most part, you have the resources that you need.
Plus, this is usually a money saver. Instead of spending a little every week- which adds up to a lot- you can make one reasonable purchase. Most teacher authors discount their bundles by as much as 20%!
Click HERE to check out my money saving bundles.
Collaborate When Planning
Collaborative planning can be a huge time saver or it can be a huge time waster. So be careful with this one…
Ever decide to lesson plan with your best buddies and end up spending an hour sharing funny stories about your spouses, students and parents? It totally happens. When you get together with friends, it is natural to want to chat and that makes the lesson planning take longer.
Also, lesson planning with someone who doesn’t pull their weight or teaches with a completely different style can be frustrating and cause you to spend more time later fixing the plans to meet your needs.
If you are going to collaborate, I recommend working with just one or two other teachers. Be selective. This isn’t the time to be too worried about hurting someone’s feelings. Choosing the wrong person to collaborate with could cost you time away from your family. That is serious!
When you get together to plan, have a rule about chatting. Get the work done first. Be willing to stop one another if you start to get off task.
Also, have clear expectations. Determine who will do which plans, when the plans need to be ready, when you will meet, and how specific the plans must be. Talk about all of this right from the beginning!
I suggest getting together for an hour once per week to share plans and talk about upcoming lessons. If you get the work done quick, you might have time for happy hour or chatting!
Collaborating can be such a fun way to learn new ideas and activities! It also saves time because you will have fewer subjects to plan for.
Lesson planning does not have to take hours each week! I hope that these tips will help you to reclaim some time for you and your family each week. You might even consider using some of that time to watch Saved by the Bell reruns on YouTube!
Have a Not So Wimpy day,