Lesson planning takes thought and organization. I have to think about the standards, the curriculum and individual students, while at the same time planning around holidays, staff schedules and school events. Lesson planning is a talent that, when it goes well, leaves me feeling brilliant and relaxed. However, when it hasn't happened or goes awry, it can leave me with the feelings of failure and defeat.
I wish I was one of those teachers who used the same plans year after year, but I'm not. I taught first grade for nine years, and while each year I taught basically the same curriculum, I never had the same plans. Each class is unique and I needed my plans to reflect the differences that I saw each year. Plus teaching the same things year after year can get tedious. Changing things up keeps me from getting bored! Now that I am in my second year as a 3rd-4th blend, I am finding that lesson planning is still as hard as ever.
So, why doesn't the planning get done during the week? The answer: TIME. There just isn't enough time during the day to get everything done. I arrive at school at 7:30 each morning just to have some extra time before school starts (teacher hours are 8-4) and I usually stay until 4:30 or 5. It seems like with all that time spent at school, I should be able to get work done--but unfortunately it still isn't happening. I get some planning done, but on Friday afternoons I am still taking work home with me. Let's take a look at my weekly schedule.
I get 30-60 minutes/day of prep time (depending on the day) where I can plan the week ahead. In theory this seems like a lot of time and even as I write it now I am thinking that. But the reality is that 30 minutes goes by fast after I drop my students off, check email, use the restroom and prepare for the lessons that are happening that day. Sometimes I have to call a parent or meet with my Principal. By the time I finally get settled to do some planning, I have about 5-10 minutes left.
I also have an hour after kids go home to do planning. Well, again, that is good in theory, but in reality, it doesn't usually happen. First of all, there are meetings after school on Tuesdays (all-staff), Wednesdays (4th grade PLC) and Thursdays (3rd grade PLC) which usually go over time because we have so much to do. That leaves me Mondays and Fridays....Mondays might work--and I DO use them. But Fridays? Who wants to stay late on a Friday afternoon? Plus I have to spend some time finding my desk...I mean, cleaning up piles of paper that seem to accumulate on my desk! Oh yeah, and also--I am tired!!! It takes a lot of energy to teach kids all day!
So that brings me back to my biggest complaint as a teacher: the amount of work I have to do at home on the weekends. I wish I could go home on Friday afternoons and leave my work at school, but that never happens. Even on a recent trip to visit family in California, school work came with me--I mean, what else is there to do on the airplane??
I know it sounds like I am whining, having my own Pity Party and complaining about "how hard my job is." But actually, I just wanted to give my teacher-friends a shout-out because only teachers (and their families!) know the true demands of the teaching profession.
I love my job and I could not imagine doing anything else. I also recognize that maybe I am not the best time manager (that is a personal goal I have set for myself!) and maybe I really CAN get it done during the work week. But for now, I am still working on it. So the next time your teacher friends complain about the amount of work they have to do, just know that they are probably getting it done on their own time and give them a hug or something!
We are the Weekend (Planning) Warriors....it's the only way to be ready for the week ahead!! Now if you'll excuse me, I have to change the laundry and then get back to work!
If you have any great time-saving tips that help you get your plans done, please share them here!