It’s time I come clean.
I like to consider myself a leader in my field. Someone who strives to practice what she preaches. My usual sermon is one of effective teaching strategies. One with a student-centered focus and with consistent and intentional implementation of best practice. Always.
So here it is: I’ve never been a good planner. Until now that is.
At CORElaborate, our goal is to provide our audience with Common Core State Standard (CCSS) related tools and instructional strategies. As I’m sure you realize, planning plays a big role in ensuring that one is intentionally keeping grade level standards at the foundation of their instruction. I’ve always consulted pacing guides, curriculum guides, and was sure to be on the same page as my fellow 6th grade teachers, but I just never took the time to plan out my day, week, or even unit in detail. I know this isn’t best practice, and that is why my goal this year was to do something about it. I decided to go with an online planner (you can find the one I use here) and it has truly been life-changing. Below you’ll find the biggest benefits I’ve discovered so far in my online planning journey:
It’s Monday morning, 30 minutes before the bell rings. You know what needs to be taught (according to your pacing guide and teacher’s manuals) but that’s about as extensive as your plans get. Not being intentional about what is on the docket for the day (how it connects to what happened yesterday and what will happen tomorrow) can be one the biggest downfalls in a classroom. Not only does last-minute planning add more stress to your plate, but our students can also tell when we are not prepared. This leaves more room for disengagement and missed learning opportunities.
In this post, I’m promoting the act of planning in general, however online planning takes communication to a whole new level. With a digital format, it’s so easy to shoot plans off to an administrator or colleague, print and have them ready for a guest teacher, or even allow all or part of them to be accessed by parents and students. I also love that I can sit down at my computer on the weekend, consult my PLC notes and pacing guides, and plan out the week without remembering to pack one more thing into my giant/overflowing tote that I cart to and from school. Also, did I mention that the planner I use in particular has an app? Enough said.
Alignment to Standards
When I add details to my plan book, I often stick to these few things: learning target, materials needed, important vocabulary, and a short description of the lesson events. We know that the standards are the foundation of the instruction that takes place in our classroom and I have spent the greater part of the last three years becoming better acquainted with the CCSS. My online planner takes connecting standards to learning targets to a whole new level. I love how I can click a quick drop down menu and attach the specific grade level standards I’m addressing to an individual lesson. I literally have the CCSS at my fingertips.
I spent year after year starting a paper plan book only to have it lay unused under a pile of papers by mid-October. For me, it took setting a personal goal to improve this part of my practice PLUS finding a tool that really worked for me and my style, to really get into the hang of being an intentional planner.
What does your planning style look like? What is working particularly well and what has room for improvement/innovation?