Batch Your Planning! What is the hardest part of lesson planning?

what is the hardest part of lesson planning

Without a doubt – the hardest part of lesson planning is resourcing! That’s why I encourage all of you to batch your planning!

I read this newspaper article online during the week. It was so relatable!

As teachers, we are given a basic roadmap and expected to fill in all of the gaps ourselves. Often, we are doing this with a limited resource room, or a small budget that doesn’t cover the items we find we need during the year.

This article reminded me that resourcing has always been and always will be one of the hardest parts of planning. I thought this was a timely reminder of how I plan.

Now, I don’t call myself a planning expert, but I know that I am a lot happier since I started planning this way! I do a mega planning session (about 2 hours) where I plan, resources, and map out daily plans for the term. Then I do weekly ‘maintenance’ planning for 1-2 hours per week.

Why Batch You Planning? The Benefits:

  • No working at home
  • No stressing over the weekend
  • No fighting for the photocopier at 8am in the morning
  • I can arrive at school when I’m expected to (not at 7.30am)
  • No wondering what I’m going to teach tomorrow
  • Prep is already done for when I am sick

I have created the Teachie Tings Time-Saving Planner that completely outlines my system with the tools that you need, but here is my system so you can do it yourself too.

Big Planning at the beginning of a term:

  1. Generally, I am always given brief unit overviews, with marking rubrics, to begin my planning. From these, I create an overview planner that lists every single learning outcome and success criteria that students will be working towards in every subject, for the duration of the units.
  2. Then, I resource for each of the success criteria. I look at the resources I already have. Then I look at the resources my school has. Then, finally, I might make some resources or go to a website such as TPT to find additional ideas. I will use print resources, online resources, manipulatives, household items – whatever they may be, but I will make sure that I have ALL of the resources I need (for every subject/unit etc) in my resource bank, before moving onto my daily planning.
  3. Once I have the resources, I map out the lessons I will teach for each subject and plan them day by day. Not on a calendar, per se, but in chronological order of how I will teach the content, including assessment. So, if I teach English 4 times per week, then I will plan 4 x 10 weeks of English lessons at once. This includes feedback and goal-setting sessions and assessment.

Weekly planning

I like to plan for the following week on Friday afternoon after school.

Why on Friday? Because on Friday afternoons, almost everyone has made a quick escape from school – I get zero interruptions! If you like to meet colleagues for a drink on Friday, maybe another weekday afternoon suits you.

Doing your weekly planning on a weekday also reduces stress and work on the weekend – no more worrying on Sunday!

Oh and remember your resource bank? You don’t have to find resources! The most time-consuming part of planning is already done for you!

Here’s what I do on a Friday – this will take 1 hour – maybe 2. But then it’s done for the week – and you have nothing to do on the weekend!

  1. I look at the daily planner to see what learning intentions/success criteria we are addressing. Then I collect the resources and get them ready. If I need printed copies, I print (no lining up on Friday afternoon!), I collect books and other resources and put them in daily piles (Mon-Fri), ready to use. It does help if you have a table where you can lay out your worksheets/resources for the week and leave them there.
  2. I create my weekly PowerPoint and add online links (from my resource bank) that I might refer to, and get it ready to teach the week. Some slides will be repeated every day, and some will just need slight tweaks!
  3. I walk in on Monday, pop on my PowerPoint, and start teaching!

I’m not kidding when I say that this way of teaching transformed my life. I was able to reclaim exercise time in the mornings and afternoons, leave school at a reasonable time to collect my own children, sit back and enjoy a coffee in the staffroom (or deal with other behaviour/parental issues), and generally feel like I had finally nailed teaching.

If you’d like to be guided through this process step-by-step, check out my Time-Saving Planner for instructions, tips, and resources to make it happen for you!

How to Convert PowerPoint to Google Slides

HowtoconvertPowerPointtoGoogleSlides

It’s easy to convert any PowerPoint presentation into Google Slides. To do this, you’ll need to make sure you have a free Google account.

As a teacher, this means you can create or purchase any PowerPoint slides and save them to your Google account easily – no need to purchase the ‘Google version’! Using Google slides is also a powerful way to share slides for home learning! Google Slides works great for most households because you can download Google Slides on a smartphone (no home computer required), and everyone can have a Google account for free! 

How to convert PowerPoint to Google Slides

  1. Open Google Drive.
  1. Select “New” in the upper left-hand corner of the screen.
  1. Select “Upload File.”
  1. Open the PowerPoint file.
  1. After uploading, right-click and select “Open with,” then select “Google Slides.”. 
  1. Select “File.”
  1. Select “Save as Google Slides.”

That’s it! You’re done. You can use this to upload Powerpoint presentations to Google Slides for easy storage or sharing. It’s also effective if you don’t have a home copy of PowerPoint to play with.

30+ Easy Ideas for the Beginning of the School Day

30IdeasschooldayBlogPostHeaders

 

30+ Ideas for the beginning of the school day

Do you need some ideas for the beginning of the school day? One of the best routines that you can establish to create certainty and calm at the beginning of the school day, is a strong morning routine.

Not only is this great for students, but it can be a calming factor for you as well – especially if teaching causes you anxiety like it does so many teachers.

How I stage my classroom:

I like to create a calming environment using the following:

  • Natural light if possible or lights on.
  • Diffuser with calming fragrance such as lemongrass,, or if not allowed by your school, I like to wipe over students’ desks with vanilla fridge cleaning spray – it’s so fresh and lovely.
  • Classical/meditation-type music, such as my Subliminals for Children music and affirmations.
  • I write instructions on the board or have resources ready to go (such as morning slides or materials on desks).

ideas for the beginning of the day

Inviting students into the classroom:

My expectations for coming into the classroom at any time are that the students come in, wash their hands, get organized, and straight into a quiet activity. Students aren’t to come up to me with a story, complaint, or something to show me – yet. When I am settled, and the students are settled, I ask students if they have something they need to tell me to put their hand up, and I call on them one by one to come to my desk and chat.

When everyone is settled into an activity, it gives me time to talk to a student or parent, reply to an email,  and prepare materials for the next activity.

So, what ideas for the beginning of the school day do I recommend?

I choose from a range – sometimes everyone is doing the same thing and sometimes we have tables to explore or group tables with set activities. I like to use class slides with timers to share instructions and give my students a timeframe, such as 20 minutes.

  • Stamina reading  – the easiest, high-impact activity of them all! Ensure you have a range of interesting reading material including comics, blog posts, and decodable readers.
  • Handwriting – use your week’s focus. Laminated sheets are great for tracing and reusing.
  • Motivational video (Ted Talks for Kids are great!)
  • Spelling using whiteboards or spelling activity grid
  • Dictionary work – Learning area vocabulary or spelling words
  • Writing sentences using their spelling words
  • Boggle
  • Pobble 365 or a quick write
  • Maths Mentals or Warm Ups
  • Puzzles
  • Playdough – (make 10, letter formation, fractions)
  • Lacing – make your own with a hole punch
  • Tweezer sort activities (pom poms, pasta)
  • 10 and 20 frames
  • iPads
  • Art and craft table
  • Morning slide with a combination of Maths and English – some great options on Teacher Pay Teachers. This has to be one of my favorite options, but be sure that they don’t take up too much time.
  • Editing activity
  • Phonics PowerPoint or flashcards
  • Number/Word of the Day
  • Timetable rote learning (use copies of different tables)
  • Multiplication grid
  • Meditation (Smiling Mind, Cosmic Yoga)
  • Goal setting for the week (Monday) and reflection (Friday)
  • Diary entry

ideas for the beginning of the school day

Some group/partner ideas for the beginning of the school day:

  • Line up shortest to tallest, in alphabetical order by first name (not roll order), and line up by birthday.
  • Conversation starters – would you rather?
  • Brainteasers
  • Hang ten (like hangman but your draw a stick figure on a surfboard instead – much nicer)
  • Buddy reading

How to organize morning activities:

  • Have a ‘Do now’ activity that is silent and independent.
  • Organize activities on an odd-even week roster – put one set of activities on one shelf, and another set on another shelf. This means that activities are cycled and students will engage with them longer.
  • Have four activity types: literacy, and numeracy. Fine motor and construction OR have different colours for activities and students need to complete all colors by the end of the week.
  • Morning Work bags for each student: letter formation, hundreds chart etc – include sheets and materials for the term. A ‘Morning Work’ book works well for older students.

How to use morning activities to tick other boxes:

Use this time to add something to ClassDojo – take a photo of the activity and write a learning story to share with parents.

Have a ‘Read to Me’ board where students move their name from ‘Read to the teacher’ and ‘Waiting to Read to Teacher’ – throughout morning work (and the day) listen to students read and move their name down the board. You could also implement this over the week.

Ensure intervention activities that require repetition, such as revising sight words, phonological gaps, or working on fine motor, are completed in this uninterrupted time.

ideas for the beginning of the day

Don’t forget outside ideas for the beginning of the day!

Many students have been sitting for HOURS before school unable to run around. Sometimes the most productive morning activity is PHYSICAL activity.

I start with 10mins of stamina reading to organize the roll/ morning notices and then take my students out for 20 minutes of energy-burning activity.

This can include:

  • Laps around oval
  • Various forms of tiggy (gang-up, pop-up, etc)
  • Bullrush
  • Obstacle course on the playground (from one end to the other)
  • Boot camp (push-ups, sit-ups, burpees, star jumps etc)
  • Crab soccer
  • Running races
  • Ship, shark, shore
  • Cosmic Yoga or Go Noodle when we get back to the classroom

After our morning activity, we have our fruit break and our morning meeting. Then we start our day.

Why use these ideas for the beginning of the school day?

Using these ideas at the beginning of the school day sets you up for success and establishes a calm classroom where students know what to expect. You can also find yourself ten minutes to deal with unexpected issues or an urgent email. Students that are running late haven’t missed any learning activities and feel less anxiety coming into the classroom.

It is also one of the tools I use to manage MY anxiety – when I know that my students can independently complete an activity (make sure to set some expectations around interruptions), then I feel confident that I can start my day organized and prepared.

I hope these ideas help to set you and your students up for a great day!

Time-Saving Tips for Teachers

30 time-saving tips for teachers

Time is GOLD for teachers. Which is why time-saving tips for teachers are one of the most important things you need to know right now!

I am unapologetic about protecting my own time and my teaching time, from ‘gravel’ that takes me away from my main job – ensuring that my students can meet benchmarks and succeed in their assessment.

I like to focus on BIG ROCKS. What are big rocks, I hear you say?

They are the important tasks that teachers need to complete:

  1. Planning for student achievement and learning
  2. Resourcing their classroom and lessons with fresh, exciting, and purposeful texts and materials
  3. Knowing their students and what they need to ‘bump up’ to the next level
  4. Maintaining student data, assessment and reporting
  5. Communicating with colleagues, stakeholders and parents
  6. Maintain their duty of care when on school grounds

That’s it.

Here are some time-suck tasks that teachers get drawn into:

  1. Marking all student work (teach them how to do this themselves and for each other, using checklists and learning walls)
  2. Gossiping in the staff room at lunch and then staying back after work to complete important tasks
  3. Reading email on the run and then again when they have time (read it at set times during the day and allow time to respond)
  4. Low-impact activities such as weekly spelling tests, group rotations with filler tasks and disordered transitions
  5. Completing tasks for parents, such as tracking student behaviour on an ‘at home sheet’, as well as your own behaviour system (just nope!)
  6. Heating up student lunches, retrieving student lunches from fridges (Are you willing to do this for all 30 of your students? Just say no)

You may think that I am being hard or difficult, but it really is ok to say no!

You already have hundreds of tasks to complete each day.

That said, you are definitely going to take time to soothe a child and put a band-aid on their knee, call the office to organise a lost lunch and let a parent know that their child’s friendship issues are continuing – and what you can do to help.

HOW TO SAY ‘NO”

You don’t have to be cold-hearted to be a time-effective teacher (and avoid burn-out!), BUT you do have to know how to respectfully say no. You could say:

“That sounds like a great idea, but unfortunately I don’t have time for that this week/term/year. Good luck! I hope it’s a great success.”

“I’m sorry but I have family commitments after school that day”

“I’m afraid I have already committed to gymnastics club and origami club. Along with reporting this term I just don’t have any more free time”

THE KEY THING TO REMEMBER

EVERYTHING you do as a teacher takes time. You are only paid for your actual teaching time – everything else is GOLD. YOUR GOLD. Make sure you’re not giving it up easily.

Ask yourself – Is this addressing one of my BIG ROCKS? If the answer is no, do you have the time and energy to commit to the task?

Finally, are you your worst enemy?

Are you inviting parents to reply to your email (and answering 25 emails) when you could send a survey?

Are you spending time printing and marking materials for a task, when you could easily complete the same task on mini-whiteboards while taking anecdotal notes on just 5 students?

Simplify my friend! You are not paid to plan before and after school. You are not paid to plan on your weekends or on your holidays – that time is yours to reset and recover!

Protect your time carefully – save these 30 time-saving tips for teachers to refer back to when you’re feeling overwhelmed x

time-saving tips for teachers