Planning Classes Ahead

I have the day off from school today, and one of the things I have to do today is do about an hour and a half of grading.  It’s so easy to fall behind on grading;   mostly we teachers are looking at formative assessments, and summative assessments (what they did on last night’s homework) may or may not interest us very much. But there’s also a firehose aimed at us ALL THE TIME.

Do non-teachers meet with clients for 80% of their workday, every day? If you’re in retail, sure.  But you’re expected to know the product that’s in the store, which doesn’t shift all that rapidly.  Lawyers and doctors, sure.  They meet with clients; but they also take considerable time to prepare for those meetings, either by writing briefs or looking up laws or reading the medical histories and relevant articles in the appropriate journals.

But teachers? The retail content of our ‘store’ keeps changing.  If this is Wednesday, it must be Leonardo DaVinci.  Oh, wait, it’s Thursday! Must be Christopher Columbus.  And all of that thought process must be planned ahead of time, even if we already have a sense of what we’re going to say.  Lesson plans don’t materialize out of nothing.  Sometimes there’s a program or a set of worksheets to give out; but if you assign too many worksheets too many days in a row, students get bored and unhappy.  That means designing and planning projects for students to do… and that means having a sense of what the rubrics are.

Which is why, far too often on my “days off” like today, I find myself sitting at my computer, typing lesson plans or designing experiences for students, or thinking about what comes next.

How do you handle planning ahead?  What teachers do you admire for how they plan ahead? Or how do they miss the boat in planning ahead?

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