As an educator, you have a unique responsibility. You not only have to be able to teach a class full of students something new, but you very often have to teach them A LOT of new things. Creating a lesson plan is not only an essential component to keep you organized as a teacher, but it will also ensure that you are covering every aspect of the required curriculum throughout the year.
Overview Your Curriculum
The first step is to delve deeply into all of the topics, subjects and specifics that you are being asked to cover throughout the year. If you are teaching in a public or private school system, there are likely reference guides that you can look at which will divulge every necessary point to be covered all year long. This will help you to understand all of the material that needs to be covered and ensure that it fits into your schedule for the course you are creating.
Create Your Timeline
Your timeline is going to be one of the things that you spend a great deal of effort on when preparing for your upcoming class. You have to take all of the criteria deemed a priority from the curriculum and find a sensible order to educate your students about it. Courses like math are easier to build a timeline, since you need to teach foundational math equations or principles and build off of them towards more complex content. For less cut and dry core subjects, you will have a lot more flexibility about when things are taught and how much time is spent with each part of your curriculum.
Determine the Style of Teaching Required
Not every age group of children is going to learn the same way. You might not even have an entire classroom that excels with the same kinds of teaching styles. So, with that in mind, take some time to decide how best your upcoming class might absorb the lessons that you are teaching them. Consider that some students are more visual learners, some are better at reading retention, while others need a hands-on application of the information where you can make that work. Employing multiple styles throughout the year is also a good idea, as this doesn’t tailor every one of your classes to just one kind of learner.
Create Individual Daily Lesson Plans
So, you have a detailed breakdown of the core information that you have to cover throughout the school year. You have broken it down into weeks or months to set a timeline for yourself as to when you want the material to be covered. Now, you have to break it down to the day. While there are some educators that might be able to overlook this portion of the planning and wing it a little bit (hitting on the general points that need to be discussed), this is rarely advisable. Instead, take it week to week. Based on the material that you are covering, devote each individual school day to an effective breakdown of each important part of your lesson plans, ensuring that nothing gets glossed over because you are running low on time.
Set Milestones Throughout Your Timeline
Everyone benefits from setting goals. As an educator, you want your students to achieve goals and succeed with the knowledge you are providing them. In much the same way, you should set goals for when certain significant portions of the curriculum are met (and actually learned) by your class. Celebrate each of these milestones as you reach them with an afternoon of a fun activity with your class that helps them to see that hard work has rewards. Not only that, but it will give their brains a chance to relax for a short time before the next significant chunk of the curriculum is taught to them.
Get Feedback from Parents and Students
At the end of the day, you are a human being. You are going to make mistakes with your lesson plan or your methodology of teaching that you overlook. The best way to avoid this continuing throughout the entire year is to get some feedback from the students in your class and the parents of those students (if they are too young to really critique your plan), to gain some insight. While you are undoubtedly going to get some negative comments (especially from students who happen to be struggling with the material in the first place), but you have to take all the good with the bad and average it out to see where you end up. Additionally, you can use this open forum about your lesson plan outline to see which students are doing well with the curriculum and which ones are having a harder time, offering you the opportunity to help those who are struggling to understand it better.
Remember to Be Flexible
Are you going to hit every daily plan precisely as you have it mapped out? Likely not. You are going to have to learn how to bend and compromise to get through the material you are given in the time frame that you are allotted to teach it. This means that you can pick up the pace in some areas where your entire class seems to be excelling to provide you the adequate time you will need (beyond your predictions) to teach a struggling class through more difficult and taxing portions of the classroom content. You should be able to balance out the two in order to successfully reach the aforementioned milestones on schedule. If you are running a bit behind to these as well, you might consider which aspects of your daily plan appear to be taking up too much of the class’s time.
If you find yourself at a loss of where to begin or what a lesson plan literally looks like, you might consider using a lesson plan template. Ultimately, your lesson plan is the guide by which your entire year worth of material reaches the children that you are teaching. While this does take a good bit of time to achieve, hopefully the steps listed above can help you to be more comfortable with the curriculum and more organized as you move forward.