Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Planning Tips for New Teachers

I'm mentoring a new teacher this year, so I have been doing a lot of reflecting on what worked for me as a new teacher. Today I wanted to share some planning tips that might be helpful for anyone, but are especially for new teachers. 

Here is a step by step recount of how I planned when I was a new teacher. 

1. Follow the pacing guide. 

2. Create a resource list for each topic. 
My first year of teaching I would write a topic at the top of a piece of paper and then list all the activities, worksheets, videos, and any other resource I had for that particular topic. 

Now that I have Evernote in my life I just create a notebook for each standard I teach. 

I add in links, pictures of anchor charts, blog posts, and little tidbits from other sources to these notebooks. Then, when it comes time to teach or review that particular standard I already have a lot of great resources in one place. 

*New teachers, this does not mean I was planning months in advance. I simply created these lists when I started planning for the next topic and then had them to reference and add to the next year.

3. Create a day by day plan. 
The next step I took in planning was laying out the order I wanted to use for teaching the topic. This was still a preliminary plan for me and was usually scribbled on that resource sheet. 

I chose to plan day 1, day 2, etc. instead of locking myself into a weekly schedule. School schedules are unpredictable and (for me) "normal" weeks are the exception! 

I took that resource list from step 2 and started plugging thing into days until I had the order all worked out. 

4. Plan grades. 
I know that sound silly, but I did it AND still do this today. I will put a little * beside of activities I plan to use as grades. I don't use a ton of worksheets in my classroom, so sometimes I would plan a whole week and have nothing to use a grade!! Thinking ahead to grades at this point in the planning stage will save you from scrambling for grades later in the grading period.

6. It was at this point that I wrote my actual plans in my planbook. Of course, now I plan online so it is much faster than hand writing plans. I use and you can read more about it here

7. Take cues from your students. 
Gather your resources and ideas and have a plan for what you'd like to do and what you THINK will work. However, always be tuned into the needs of your students. Every assignment you grade, every lesson you teach, every class discussion you have will allow you a glimpse into your students' understanding. Use this to guide your instruction. 

If today's lesson is a flop, pull something else from your resource list and try that tomorrow. Reflect on what went wrong, be honest with your students and let them know "we" are going to try again today. 

8. Keep Calm and Teach On 
You were trained for this job and you can do it!!!! Don't be afraid to ask for help when you need it. At the same time, don't be afraid to do what you know is right for your students - this is what you do and you know what is best for your students. 

And no matter what happens in the classroom today, remember that tomorrow is a brand new day! 

What tips would you share with a new teacher? 


  1. Thank you so much for posting this! As a new teacher, I was feeling like I was drowning with planning! I had all of the ideas, but I didn't know how to put it all down so it made sense! Your post has made it so crystal clear for me now! I'm going to download Evernote and use it for this purpose! Thank you for saving my sanity!

    1. Lindsay, I'm so glad I was able to help you!! Get ready to be addicted to Evernote!! It is fabulous!

  2. This post is BEAUTIFUL! I too use and am in love with it. I seriously can not say enough great things about this resource and for $12 a year, you can't beat it. I have made myself tons of notes to actually start utilizing Evernote and have not done it...yet. I need to get on it!!! Thanks for sharing!
    Rockin' and Lovin' Learnin'


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