Have you heard of bullet listing lesson planning? It saved my sanity, and now my team and I do plans together, during planning time, during the week...hence, I'm not planning by myself on Sunday night anymore! We actually planned our first week of school during the last week of school last year. How do we do it?
The first week of lesson planning for school is such a odd week. It's not a usual week of lesson planning at all! Typically, it's the getting-to-know you stage and where-does-this-go week. I never knew quite how to plan for that week. It's much like the last week of school...you need to make sure you have lots of plans so that there are no down-times. Because of this, I feel like I must over plan and hope I pick the best activity for the class at that time. And then there are procedures! Those aren't in typical lesson plans, but it is a must the first few weeks of school.
Up until a few years ago, my lesson plans left something to be desired. I just never liked the different formats I'd tried over the years. Too much wasted space or sometimes not enough space for me to write everything down. And those arrows to show an activity continued into the next period of time? What a waste of space! I just felt like I was competing with my own schedule to make a great lesson plan. Oh dear!
Then in 2014, I decided to try something new. I thought if I could break free from the schedule and just list what I needed to accomplish every day then that would make planning so much easier. Little did I know it would also make planning every week so much quicker.
So this is what I did. I created a template of a 2-page spread and put my daily schedule at the bottom. This is also where I'll put times when certain students leave the room for OT, Speech and other special services. I don't know those typically on the first week yet. So the schedule goes on the bottom and my plans and activities go above the schedule, bulleted so that I get the satisfaction of checking them off!
Now, the life of a teacher isn't that easy where I'd have all my plans checked off by the end of the day. I had to implement some symbols to help with that.
Say I started an activity before lunch and we need to finish it after lunch, then I don't cross it off but put a slash through the bullet. That lets me know that my friends started but didn't complete the activity. I can then come back from lunch and scan to look for any incomplete items and it gets me quickly on track to get those things finished.
Sometimes I just don't get to do an activity for that day. Well, in very rare cases I might just cross it off, but typically I will put an arrow by the bullet and that let's me know that I've moved it to another day. If I draw the arrow, I must quickly also write the activity in on another day so I don't forget.
There are those activities that I must have completed before the end of the day. For instance, our principal reminds us that we need to go over emergency procedures on the first day of school (wind drill, fire drill, lockdown, etc.). I will remind myself that it must be done on the first day by highlighting that bulleted item, with a bright color, or sometimes I just circle the bullet to draw my attention to it.
If you are not liking your lesson planning format, then I strongly encourage you to try the bullet lesson plan method. It has worked out so well that now my whole team bullet lesson plans together! I used to do my planning by myself late every Sunday night and now we sit and do it together. We've gotten so good at it that we usually finish in one planning period! We then print it off for one another and upload it to the district-approved lesson plan program. Here's a sneak peek at how I've started planning my first week.
If you're not sure how to start the process, no worries! Click the image below to help you get started.