Part 2: Calendars and Schedules
An elementary lesson plan template starts with the basic foundation of calendars and schedules. You can’t plan even a single day if you don’t know the big picture of the year-long testing and holiday calendar, as well as the weekly and daily flow of events in your school.
Here are some tips on getting these critical resources in place and ready for use.
Getting Started: 3 Basics for Success
Never forget this fact: Whether you are a naturally-organized person or not, you will never get away with disorganization in your classroom…so your elementary lesson plan template cannot be disorganized, either.
There is simply too much to cover and too many quirky challenges that arise from a couple dozen kids to just improvise every day…not if you want your kids to achieve the academic success of which you dream.
Challenges drive changes, so when your new system is completely assembled, it will have these features:
1. A way to modify your plans easily…because things change every day.
2. A way to quickly put your hands on what you need…such as hard copies for the lesson at hand:
- Books to read
- Worksheet copies
3. A built-in emergency plan so a sub can easily take over without your students losing a day of instruction.
It is best to have substitute teacher lesson plans that are close to what is being worked on rather than a generic “keep busy” plan. This keeps your kids moving forward and out of trouble even in your absence.
We are still a few steps away from putting the entire package together. First, we start with the calendars and schedules.
Start with the Right Stuff
When I start a lesson planning session, I’m literally surrounded by the items listed below. I work at a desk that wraps around me a bit so I can spread out and keep my piles organized.
To get started effectively, you’ll need three planning calendars.
1. A year-long district assessment calendar
This elementary school curriculum and assessment calendar should block out when different units will be taught and when unit assessments will be given. It should also indicate testing dates for district and state assessments. Such a “milestone” calendar is critical for ensuring you keep on track with the progress of instruction and don’t fall behind.
Most districts provide an overview of when different units should be completed. Ask your principal, teaching partner, coach or mentor for one.
2. A monthly building calendar
This includes specific notes on holidays, assemblies, etc. As soon as an event is known, it should be placed on this calendar. This calendar should be fairly complete at least two months into the future and ideally will be at least partially complete all the way to the end of the school year.
Most buildings provide a monthly calendar. At a minimum, you need a listing from your building that outlines these items. I highly recommend that this calendar be in standard month-by-month form rather than a list; it’s just visually much easier to comprehend when you are putting together your elementary lesson plan template.
If you must make your own, a few different approaches will work. I’ve kept my monthly calendar in Gmail at times, but any calendar program (such as Outlook) would work, as would a paper month-on-each-page calendar.
3. A personalized weekly schedule
This calendar or schedule shows your recurring events. I use a template for this in Excel, but paper would work just as well. It lists:
- Bell schedule
With these basic calendars and schedules on hand, you are ready to start your planning.
Coming soon: Lesson planning Parts 3 through 7!