What to do Wednesday: Miserable Lesson Plans

Wednesday's blogs are going to be based on different experiences teachers may have in the classroom. For now, I will create the scenarios and characters and provide feedback on how I would handle the situation. I hope you find this helpful. As our community grows, my vision is to have teachers send me their ideas of what is stressing them out in the classroom so hopefully, I can help.

Dear Lesson Plan Toolbox,

First, thank you so much for all of the advice and suggestions for going back to school this year! So many great ideas that have really helped me to gain control over how to prepare for a year like no other. I am heading into my third year teaching third grade and am feeling overwhelmed. I really thought heading into August that I had a solid handle on teaching in a hybrid model, but honestly when it comes to lesson planning I am completely miserable! I must spend two hours a week per subject trying to figure out what to teach. Every night when I leave school I head home to do at least two more hours of work. I know that I’m only in my third year of teaching, but I truly thought this was going to be the year I could finally have a life outside of school. 

Please help!
Miserable Lesson Plans

Dear Miserable Lesson Plans,

Thank you so much for your kind words! We are thrilled to know that we are helping teachers, especially new teachers, to navigate their teacher journeys.  Now it’s time for us to guide you toward your teacher path to success.

You had a keyword in your email that I want to be sure to address! That word was overwhelmed. I can’t even begin to tell you how many teachers are having that exact same feeling. Actually, that is the main reason we felt now was the perfect time to launch the Lesson Plan Toolbox Community. Our main goal is to alleviate the feeling of being overwhelmed and being burned out, by providing resources, advice, and act as a sounding board to our educators that are called to this life of service. So cozy up with your coffee and a blanket and let's get to it!

Lesson planning is one of those components of the job that not many people enjoy doing, but it has to get done. My first piece of advice is to simplify what you are recording. I have seen lesson plans that can be a page long in length, and if you’re doing that for every subject in the primary grades, then odds are pretty good it will grow old quickly. In my experience of teaching, I would always model the STOPEM approach to lesson planning for new teachers. Here’s the breakdown of what this would like:

S=Subject T=Topic O=Objective P=Procedure E=Evaluation M=Materials 

S: Counting by 5s

T: Developing


P: Students will use a Bingo dotter to make and count groups of 5s. Students will be introduced to our counting 5s song. They will complete a color by number worksheet.

E: Color by Number Worksheet

M: dotters, song, color by 5s wksht

As you can see, I kept the plan short and sweet. If a substitute were to come in, then he/she would have enough information to lead a lesson which is usually what I try to consider when creating my plans.

My next piece of advice is to try to find a quiet place to work. Just like with anything, if you can offer your undivided attention to lesson planning then I do think you will save time. Planning at school can be difficult because so many people pop in and out all day. Our teacher friends our the best kind of friends, but they can totally come in your room to chat and the next thing you know your planning time is gone. This happened to me a lot! I ended up realizing that if I planned at home, then when I was at school I could laminate and copy things which are mindless and allow me to still be able to chat when my teacher bestie stops in. Sometimes I would even get lucky enough that she would help me cut out my laminations.

Finally, (and this can sound a bit rough but I’m telling you it was a game changer for me) try batch lesson planning. I finally wised up around year six of teaching and would plan for a month. Usually, on the first Saturday of every month I would sit at the computer in my little home office and plan for about five hours or so. Yes, I know who wants to to do that on a Saturday...but the stress release I felt knowing they were done was INCREDIBLE! I was able to make my copies for two weeks at a time and I truly felt ahead of the curve. Think about it. If you wake up around 7:00am and plan for five hours or so, then you could be done by noon. To me, it was worth every minute. Obviously there were times where maybe I was out of town or was meeting friends for brunch, in those instances I would simply try to plan a bit each weeknight. Being that you’re planning a whole month in one day, these instances were few and far between.

I truly hoped this helped you gain some clarity with lesson planning. I could truly go and on with what worked for me, but truthfully you have to figure out what works for you. Please feel free to reach out to me on Instagram (@lessonplantoolbox) if you have any more questions or want more advice. Remember to keep building your lesson plan toolbox.


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