I think that I’ve been planning ahead all wrong

In the past, I’ve planned ahead by trying to outline lessons several days, or weeks in advance. That’s never worked for me. I still find myself planning for Day x+1’s lesson on Day x.

It’s time to kick some long-term planning ass.

Since I’m so bad at putting together long-term plans, I’m going to do the exact opposite of what I do now. I’m going to start planning for the end of the year, and go backwards from there.

My thought is that by planning for the medium-term future, I’ll have to work efficiently and wisely. (After all, today’s lesson is still right around the corner.) At the same time, those are investments that will start to accrue as time passes, and I’ll find myself with solider lessons and more time to think about the current day’s stuff.

So the plan, in short, is to really skimp on short-term planning, and go all-in on the medium-term future.

Thoughts? How do you plan ahead?

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4 thoughts on “I think that I’ve been planning ahead all wrong

  1. David Price says:

    I REALLY like this idea and try to do it whenever I have the time (first year teacher -> rarely). I’ve found that the rare times I’ve successfully thought a month or two in advance, even vaguely, have paid off and have been the least panicked I’ve felt this year. I teach single semester Statistics classes and in the fall, I spent >1 hr planning for each class the day before, while now I try to spend 30 min or so thinking about tomorrow and another similarly-sized block of time thinking about 2-4 weeks ahead. Still nothing to write home about, but at least it improves the cadence of the class and adds some flexibility to my daily schedule.

    One question I have is how does this differ from (say) unit planning or planning out an entire year in some sort of curriculum map? Do you mean planning for the medium-term future at the one-period time scale? Or do you mean that more of the time that we would call “planning time” should be dedicated to a longer time scale?

    • how does this differ from (say) unit planning or planning out an entire year in some sort of curriculum map? Do you mean planning for the medium-term future at the one-period time scale? Or do you mean that more of the time that we would call “planning time” should be dedicated to a longer time scale?

      I’ll find out over the next few weeks as I work this out what exactly I mean. But what I mean is that instead of spending 3 hours planning for tomorrow’s lessons, I’m going to spend 1.5 hours planning for tomorrow’s lessons, and 1.5 hours planning for my next unit.

      What I’m really trying to do is engineer more “shower moments.” These are the random insights that occur to me when what I’m teaching is just bubbling under the level of consciousness. I want to stretch out my teaching puzzles and problems so that they cover weekends, showers, commutes and long walks. You can’t do that if your problems have a 24 hour cycle. I need less turnover in my brain.

  2. David Wees says:

    I spend most of my time planning, finding, and creating resources for class and I spend very little time planning lessons. I find activities that I can put together into lessons, and then I pretty much choose the activities I’m going to use on a specific day a day or two in advance.

  3. I think you’re really going to get a lot out of planning for the medium-term future. I have the year mapped out in one excel document I call, “Curriculum by the Month”. At the basic level it’s filled in with the specific concepts I need to touch, but gets more specific with lessons I taught last year and plan on doing again in some capacity. Since I can visually see in one document everything I’m teaching for the month, it definitely gives me those “shower moments” and I can fill in pieces as I think about them. Please keep us updated on how it goes!

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