Top 5 Time Saving Lesson Planning Tips for Teachers

Oct 26, 2023
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Ever feel like your weekend is basically one extended lesson planning session?

For many teachers, weekend plans are too frequently set aside to spend time scouring YouTube for the right video to introduce your next unit or poring over Pinterest for the perfect independent practice aligned to standards. We want to help you save time and craft meaningful lesson plans.

Five Time-Saving Lesson Planning Tips

Ready for Sunday afternoon to stop feeling like a ticking time bomb? Put an end to that lesson planning stress this school year! Here are five tips that will help you reclaim your weekends once and for all!

1. Start with the end in mind

Often referred to as “backwards planning,” this tactic starts with setting a specific and measurable objective and then building all elements of the lesson cycle directly from that overarching goal. 

Sometimes, even the most experienced educator can benefit from this simple reminder before a Pinterest search yields a lesson planned around a cute learning craft without considering the clearly defined learning goal. Plus, you’ll save time by having a clearly defined goal and working towards it rather than trying to affix a goal to a cute idea.

Planning lessons instead around an objective that is both specific and measurable ensures that the learner remains at the center of all instruction, practice, and assessment that follows, and it will leave you with actionable data on their progress. If you’re new to lesson planning, check out this video from the Teaching Channel to see the power of a strong objective in action.

2. Take stock of student learning styles

As you kick off a new school year, do yourself a favor, and poll your students’ learning styles and aptitudes from the very beginning. Every class has a distinct personality, and by determining what that is sooner rather than later, the direction that your lessons take can be directly aligned to the preferences and needs of your students. 

Edutopia offers an interesting article on multiple intelligences, as well as a self-assessment tool to help you get started. You can also take a look at the teaching blog, “Everybody is a Genius,” where 10-year veteran teacher Sarah demonstrates how she captures personality, learning style, and multiple intelligence information in her students’ interactive notebooks.

3. Find a solution that works, and stick to it

Online resources can help you locate countless ideas and templates for lesson planning. Too much searching, and your head will start to spin with ideas, leaving you overwhelmed and frantically changing your organization style month after month. Not only does this lead to disorganization, but you’ll be losing rather than saving time by switching things up this much.

Whether you’re mandated by your school or district to use a particular plan or you have the freedom to develop your own, do your research early to make sure that the planning style you select works for you all year long. 

In addition to perusing collaborative online forums, such as Pinterest or Teachers Pay Teachers, take a look at these planning tools that offer some different, yet effective, approaches to becoming an organized teacher:

Common Curriculum - This site offers a free online lesson-planning tool that allows you to organize your lessons by days, weeks, or months.

Teacher Lesson Planners by Erin Condren - These colorful planning notebooks are loved by educators for their design and flexible organization. They’ve even inspired users to create their own printable inserts, often found on Teachers Pay Teachers.

Edmentum Organization and Wellness Planners - Being organized and having a well-planned schedule is the key to success in school, especially when it comes to virtual learning. To help keep you and your students on-track and families in the know, we put together a variety of free printable and digital calendars and planning guides.

4. Beg, borrow, and steal

It’s said that imitation is the sincerest form of flattery. So, why spend time creating your own PowerPoint presentations and exit tickets when someone else has already done the work for you? There are many open educational resources out there, but when sifting through the flood of options, it can be difficult to find the quality information you need. 

Below are two recommendations for popular and robust online curriculum resources to help you save time and make lesson planning easier, created and vetted by educators:

OER Commons - This resource is a dynamic digital library of teacher-created curriculum dedicated to educator improvement.

BetterLesson - This site is a dedicated teacher resource community that offers free content and fully developed lesson plans.

5. Work smarter, not harder

This is a phrase too often used in education but one that’s still worth repeating. Embracing this mantra means doing the research to find resources that align to learning objectives and students’ needs in the beginning and then returning to those tools time and again throughout the school year. 

Finding solutions that you can embrace with fidelity also has the added benefit of allowing you to take back precious time in your day for working one on one with students, tracking progress, conferring with parents, and celebrating success.

Education is rapidly evolving, and staying ahead means adapting to new technologies and methods. Explore our article, Teacher Tips for the 21st Century Educator, where we share 15 innovative tips to enhance your teaching strategy.

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