I learned early in my teaching career that if I could effectively plan, then I would be much happier.
I plan in two stages–at the semester level, and at the week level. Macro and micro, if you will.
At the beginning of every semester, I set up a calendar for each class and plan out topics for each day. I plan around days off, and days I’ll be out of the building for trainings and what not, and I have a nice bird’s-eye view of the semester. I try to pay attention to when assignments are due so I’m not buried in grading.
(I did not pay attention to that when I in my macro-planning for this past week. Status: currently buried in grading.)
I like this semester approach because when students tell me they will be gone and want to know what they will miss, I can tell them.
Then during the semester, every Thursday (or Friday, or sometimes Sunday), I plan a week’s worth of each class I teach. I refine formative assessments, I think about what I want my students to be able to do, and I have an entire week of plans.
Now, these plans might need tweaking during the week, but it’s a lot easier to tweak a plan at the last minute than create one from scratch.
It’s in this planning process that I do most of my reflection on what works and what doesn’t. When I set my semester calendar, I think about lessons that flopped and what it might take to improve them. I think about assessments that really reflected student learning and assessments that were just time fillers. I think about lessons I haven’t taught in a while that deserve a comeback.
Planning is essential to successful teaching–if I didn’t take all this time to plan, my classroom would be total chaos.