Teachers love attending professional development (pd) seminars while simultaneously preparing to start a new school year, especially if the pd involves data or new curriculum requirements. It ranks right up there with surviving a zombie apocalypse. At least that’s what I can infer after viewing back to school Facebook posts.
When my brilliant team member, Kristy, (witness her brilliance at Educate My Heart) and I were asked to present the new curriculum that our team had produced, we decided to add a little theatrics to our introduction to ease the tension. We rolled in a gnarly, bloated curriculum binder and hoisted this bad boy on the table while excitedly announcing that there would be curriculum binders for everyone. Wincing and flinching from all corners of the room were evident. Team member, Lori, came in with an iPad on a silver platter, “Just kidding,” – cue nervous laughter. We had created assessments that aligned with the CCSS, and had included a teaching toolkit complete with lesson ideas, all of which could be accessed online.
We were thrilled that the new curriculum was well received as we had poured our hearts into this curriculum creation for over two years. I want to give a quick shout-out to this incredible team of which Kristy and I were lucky to be a part. Many thanks go to Jill, Jessica, the unbelievably hard working Lori, Kristen (who came to us from another district and we are so lucky to have her), and our ELA coordinator Sue, who has so much positive energy. Sue supported us in any way she could.
With the new curriculum at hand, the time for planning arrived. Good planning is essential for effective teaching. Whether you are planning backwards, forwards, or while standing on your head, planning helps you stay on track. It is worth the time. Too often I have heard teachers say that they like to “wing it”, to just see where the mood takes them. I’m not saying that inspiration doesn’t strike as the angels shine down on a teachable moment, but I’m fairly sure that teachers who frequently walk in the room without a plan are fooling themselves into thinking everything is cool. My team member, Bonny, is one of those teachers that is always in tune with what her students need at the moment, and her lessons flow into these accommodating tangents that hit just the right groove. However, she does not “wing it.” She coordinates her plans with Kristy and I, her teammates, while meeting the Common Core guidelines, plotting her lessons to align with the common assessments, and allowing her teaching tangents to dance within these guidelines.
Our district, like nearly all schools and districts, has parameters where we must reside. However, that doesn’t mean teachers can’t creatively teach and help their students master the skills and knowledge. In order to stay within a district or school’s parameters, but find unique, engaging ways to present the information, it is essential to spend time planning. Planning is hard, but using Teacher’s Planning Partner lesson plan books makes it easy to stay true to your school district’s requirements while empowering you, the teacher, to plan creatively. These specialized lesson plan books replace that gnarly, bloated curriculum binder with a useful “un-binder” that lays out the plan of action for you. The planning book may also be used as a shield in the event of a zombie apocalypse.