One of the most significant factors concerning your daily teaching life will be how you monitor and allocate your time.
From the moment you leave for school in a morning until the time you mark your last piece of homework at night, the single biggest factor that is determining your life is time allocation.
This is a very important area of your teaching to consider.
How long does it take you to greet your class, take care of all the administrative tasks, have the daily jobs completed, and finally be able to begin your first lesson of the day?
Do you have systems in place in your classroom that help you to have smooth lesson transitions?
How many minutes are wasted in your day waiting for children to get pens and pencils from their bags, find those elusive books, or simply prepare themselves and be sitting quietly and ready for the lesson to begin?
There have been many surveys completed and results collated that tell us teachers do waste time in many cases.
But, how do we stop this from happening?
How do we as teachers make sure that all of our time is used wisely and effectively?
In a word, we PLAN.
But planning is different for all people. I know that if I plan to complete a days tasks at home and I also ask my wife to plan for the same day, we will both focus on different aspects.
This does not mean either of us are right or wrong. It simply shows us that we have different agendas and that we are two individual people.
The same applies to teaching. It is no use having an “across-the-board” planning schedule for all teachers in a school because it would tend to stifle some teachers and yet be confusing and over-the-top to others.
Every teacher needs to work out their own procedures, schedules, and most effective means of utilising their time.
One method is to use PLANNERS.
There are daily planners, weekly planners, term planners, subject planners, year planners. In fact you can plan in just about any fashion that suits you.
The important factor to remember is that most of the time the planner is for YOUR eyes only. Of course some schools require that teachers submit their plans for a term’s work in advance to the school coordinator or principal. Other schools like all of their teachers to work on a daily planning system.
However, whatever the school requires, it is important for teachers to realise that planning is beneficial to themselves and most significantly, to the children in their care.
I do not propose to set out a detailed explanation of what planning in a teacher’s life requires, because as most teachers would tell you, it is very much an individual task. What I will present is a basic list of components that your planning should incorporate.
I have been privileged throughout my student teaching and TRT placements to have seen how many teachers plan their day, weeks and terms.
Some teachers have very systematic methodologies and use computers for their planning. Everything is neat and trim and proper.
Other teachers I have observed have seemingly operated from no more than a note pad or from what they simply remembered in their “heads”.
Which method is best? Does one win over the other?
Again, I must reiterate that it is a individual matter, however, having said that, I personally believe that having no written record of your planning is perhaps “careless” for want of a better word.
I realise that many people do not like to function in their every day lives with lists and planners and/or any other form of documented material. The problem with teachers who do not write anything down though, is that it makes it very difficult for a principal to know exactly what a teacher is teaching and obviously, in situations such as having a relief teacher for a day, they are left in the dark altogether because there is no written account to adher
e too in any form.
The above type of teacher is probably a rarity, but it does highlight the need for written plans of some description. You may be a teacher who does not like to sit down and “waste”, large amounts of time detailing planners.
I do not see it as wasted time, in fact quite the opposite. To me, it is part of the job of being a teacher and so that is how I approach this topic from this point onward.
Let’s have a look at a few types of plans.
1. Lesson Plans
Unnecessary for the average teacher and really only of benefit to student teachers and training teachers as a guide to learning the structure of a lesson.
Most teachers do not prepare lesson plans in their daily planning – at most a few notes may be written in the form of dot points.
Please refer to Lesson Plans for more information on lesson plan structure.
2. Daily Planners
Most teachers make use of some form of daily planner. Usually written in dot point format or subject headings this planner is used by teachers as a guide to the daily events. One observation I have made in relation to daily planners is that they are generally very flexible and they are adjusted continually as a day progresses. I have worked with only one teacher who worked to a strict time and subject schedule and I would have to say that it was not a very effective method. Flexibility in your planning is a key element. [More on this later]
3. Weekly Planners
I have seen many of this sort of planner in use by teachers. One aspect that is appealing about weekly planners is that it is quite easy to incorporate your daily planner within them as well. One teacher that I worked closely with suggested using an A3 sized piece of paper which enabled easy reading and plenty of room to make adjustments as necessary.
Left on the teachers desk it proved to be of great benefit in the daily and weekly running of the class. Sticky notes were attached to it continually, and the teacher was able to keep it as a running record of events at any time. It is a personal choice but I believe I will use this method in my first placement – it works!
However, the three planners highlighted so far, really only deal with the daily structure of a class’ lessons.
Obviously, there is far more planning involved in teaching than just making sure you have enough lessons for the day and that you are working to a schedule.
At this point we need to refer back to what we learnt as student teachers, namely, the purpose and objectives of planning.
I turn to a text by Barry,K. and King,L. (Beginning Teaching Second Edition 1997:46-47) that illustrates these elements succinctly.
Planning in teaching makes learning more purposeful, efficient and effective. It does this by:
1. Ensuring that the teacher is organised and has a clear idea of what, how and why the students are going to learn.
2. Giving the teacher a feeling of confidence, reducing anxiety, and providing a sense of direction.
3. Allowing the teacher to think through potential problems before the lesson. This makes it easier to nip problemsin the bud and to cope with any change of plan or incidental happenings during teaching.
4. Encouraging reflection about the students, learning objectives, subject matter, learning experiences and evaluation.
The Planning Process
as suggested by Barry and King, should incorporate asking yourself five questions:
What background factors need to be considered in planning this learning experience?
2. Learning Objectives
What should the students learn as result of this learning experience?
3. Subject Matter
What knowledge, concepts, generalisatiions or skills have to be covered? In what order?
4. Learning Experiences
What experiences will help the students learn this subject matter?
How will I know what, and how much, the students have learned?
Naturally, it must be realised that although planning is vitally important, it will never replace action and as already stated, it must be flexible.
In essence you almost have to plan for the unforeseen and it is with this perspective in mind as you plan, that you can really prepare for most contingencies and with the most benefit to you and your class.
It would be great to collect a selection of planning ideas for new teachers to experiment with, so if you have a PLAN template that is in a document format, please send to me and I will load it for anyone to download. Thank you!
Previous teacher comments from Teacher Education v1.3:
Submitted by: Claire Davies
Location:Perth, Western Australia
I am a Student teacher and I find it increasingly difficult to find a medium in which I am looked upon by the student s as a teacher, I have just moved into a new job where I am a “Teacher Figure”, and have found this web page very informative in helping me establish myself in a classroom situation.