I'm not completely new to lesson planning, but in my years of experience most lesson plans have consisted of single day activities. These activities, while often educational, were not aligned with standards or testing. As I prepare to teach full time next year I ask myself, how do you create a year long lesson plan?
Here is what I have come up with.
Before you do anything, before you pick up a book or create a math problem, you have to set goals. Not just any goals, but in order to be a truly effective teacher you should be setting big goals. This means the over arching goals for the year with quantitative and qualitative renderings.
Next you have to break down the big goals, say getting a certain level of proficiency in a subject, into smaller bite sized chunks. Create small goals for the year that align with specific parts of the necessary curriculum.
Finally the actual lesson planning occurs, and this is where I sort of get a little lost. So I have my small goals, but they mean nothing if they aren't in the right order. What comes first in blending, 'pl' or 'br', or does it even matter? Then the word 'innovation' starts banging on the door telling me to be creative, be different. I can start to feel the panic swelling inside of me, worse than that graduation panic, and I question my right to be in education and if I'm really going to be able to do this. So I breath, and I keep reading, blogging, and practicing.
Yet, how does a teacher manage. Under paper work, creating daily lesson plans, testing, and the day to day woes of public school education how much can you really do? I might be part optimist, but I am also a realist. My zigzag lesson planning is not enough. I need to think about the arc, and the space between lesson plans.
I've settled on the fact that my first year teaching will probably not be perfect, and surely will not be my best, but I won't give up. I think that is the key. Not every lesson plan can be innovative and perfect. No one will care if I teach one phoneme before the next. I may not always know exactly what my lesson plan will be. As long as I keep going, my young naive liberal arts educated optimism included, it will be okay. The space between lesson plans might be tight, but I'll be okay, and more importantly, so will the kids.