Lesson Planning Advice from Veteran Teachers

"What I'd wish I'd known when I was a new teacher..."

  • You don't have to fill in the whole square of the lesson plan book, just because it is there. You don't need to write everything you want to say; just brief notes.

    Margaret Stanush
    La Vernia Elementary School
    La Vernia, TX
    Grade Levels: 3-5

  • You don't have to do everything you say you are going to do in your plans for that day. See them as a road map where detours are all right as long as you eventually arrive at the intended destination.

    Dotty Bailey
    Shamrock Middle School
    Decatur, GA
    Grade Levels: 6-8

  • Make great plans for the first week of school! Plan a lot of interesting activities, but never expect to get through them all in any given day.

    B. A. Morris
    Liestman School
    Houston, TX
    Grade Levels: 3-5

  • Never stop experimenting with lesson ideas and teaching approaches. Be continuously reflective about your teaching. If something does not work, be very honest with yourself about the possible causes. Restructure your lesson and try again. Always be flexible and willing to change.

    Patrick Allen
    Canton Intermediate School
    Canton, CT
    Grade Levels: 6-8

  • Keep track of everything you do and why you do it. Writing "reading workshop" in a plan book will not help you plan next year. Write your objectives, exact mini-lessons, or a general theme you are studying. I know that the long hours I spend planning units of study will be a tremendous asset to kicking off the new school year!

    Levy Lakeside School
    Merrick, NY
    Grade Levels: 3-5

  • Meet and share lessons with other colleagues even if they don't teach the same subject or grade level. Constant communication and rewriting of lessons and ideas are important to personal growth as well as professional growth in the classroom.

    Nancy Parks
    East Islip High School
    Islip Terrace, NY
    Grade Levels: 9-12

  • I wish I had known:
    • that it's OK to teach from the textbook. Every lesson can't be an innovative, hands-on, cooperative learning experience.
    • that drill and practice is a good thing. In truth, once students are truly familiar with the material, they are more interested, not less.
    • to look through my grade book every day, and focus on the kids who are doing well, trying hard, or improving. Remember that they are doing so because you are a good teacher.

    Sandy Follansbee
    Hillview Jr. High School
    Pittsburg, CA
    Grade Levels: 6-8

  • I wish I had known:
    • that when I was enjoying the lesson, the kids were having fun, too.
    • how to recognize the signs that I needed to alter the pace of a lesson (glazed expressions, fooling around, fidgeting, etc.).
    • that quantity of work and assignments did not equate to quality.

    Sue Ritchie
    Nathaniel Morton Elementary School
    Plymouth, MA
    Grade Levels: 3-5

  • I wish I had known:
    • As you complete a lesson, take notes on what worked, what you can change and on what didn't work. Next time, you'll have a good idea on what needs to be done to improve the lesson.

    Shannon Cegielski

    ...More Teaching Advice

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