Three Levels of Intentional Planning
Lately I’ve been doing a lot of work with teachers around planning and it’s no secret that almost every teacher has some kind of gripe about planning and/or lesson plans. Most of the complaints are around not having enough planning time, planning taking too long, and not knowing exactly what to plan – all which I can all relate to. My first year teaching I spent a huge amount of time trying to wrap my mind around planning for all the things that had to be taught and assessed AND putting it into lesson plans. It wasn’t until I started breaking my planning down using three levels, that it became more manageable and smoother process.
My own struggles are what caused me to come up with a system that helped me remain on target, so now I’m on a quest to help as many teachers as possible. It’s time for teachers to feel comfortable creating intentional plans that truly help you feel more organized and prepared. I promise planning doesn’t have to be a huge headache, so I want to share my process for intentional planning that can be used for any grade! Do I have your attention yet? Good!
The first thing I want to mention is that the purpose of planning and writing lesson plans SHOULD NOT be for the purpose of posting them for administration or turning them in. When we create lesson plans just as a check off requirement for others, they become a waste of time and feel pointless. Instead, planning should be a time where teachers intentionally look at everything that they are responsible to teach and assess, then decide the best ways to get it done. When we look at planning with this perspective, planning becomes more like goal setting sessions for students around what they should know.
Intentional planning starts by taking large annual learning goals (aka standards) and narrowing those down, so you can plan for, teach, and assess them. Narrowing learning goals down should happen at three different levels: monthly, weekly, and daily goals.
Every teacher has annual learning goals for their student that are already set. These are all of standards for every subject, that you must cover throughout the year. Having the annual goals then requires you to narrow those down further into monthly goals. Most grades K-12 are given monthly goals which are in the form of curriculum maps, monthly pacing guides or unit plans. Unfortunately most Pre-K teachers don’t always have access to suggested monthly goals which can make planning feel more sporadic than intentional. This is one reason why I’ve worked to create a Pacing Guide for GA Pre-K teachers and provide training on using it!
Once you have monthly goals established, it’s time to narrow down weekly goals. Deciding on weekly goals means considering timing, how standards need to be broken down, deciding which new standards will be introduced and which standards will be incorporated for review. Having weekly goals will help paint the picture of what your weeks will look like at a glance.
Once you have decided which learning goals will get covered each week, it’s time to dive into daily goals. Daily goals are captured on your lesson plan for a particular week. By the time you get to this smallest level of planning, you will be aware of how the daily learning goals impact the bigger picture. Setting daily learning goals involves deciding on what part of the day you’ll cover different standards, how you should present the standards, how you can teach standards across the curriculum, and how you can assess what is being taught.
This approach may be different than what you are used to, but learning to plan using these three levels allows you to be intentional. You will feel solid about WHAT you teach, WHEN you teach it, HOW you teach it, and HOW you assess!
If you’re a GA Pre K teacher who wants to access to a monthly Pacing Guide and modeling on this process, sign up for one of the live virtual trainings that will help to get you started!
I’d also love to hear from you in the comments below about your current system for planning.