10 ideas to make planning next term’s lessons easier

Somehow, the summer is slipping us by and everyone’s mind seems to be turning to planning ahead for the next school year at the moment.  Many of you are planning lessons and schemes of work which can feel like hard going at this time of year.  Here are a few ideas to help you along the way.

1. Recycle the good stuff

When you think back over the last year, doubtlessly there will be some absolutely fantastic lessons that come to mind.  Repeat them.  Every teacher does this and it’s nothing to be ashamed of.  What you shouldn’t be doing is repeating the lessons that didn’t go down well – or even those that were mediocre.  Instead plan to repeat the very best lessons you taught and to use the very best of last year’s lessons as a benchmark for this year.


2. Re-invent the stuff that didn’t quite work

All the hard work you put into lessons that didn’t go quite as spectacularly as planned doesn’t need to be wasted.  You can simply re-invent them using some of the same basic resources, objectives and ideas but adding to them where necessary.  It’s particularly worth re-visiting lessons that you were teaching a whole year ago.  No matter how long you’ve been teaching, three terms is a long time and you’ll have picked up plenty of new ideas in that time.  If you look back at last autumn’s lessons now I’ll bet you’ll find you can easily improve on them and turn the good lessons into potentially great ones.

3. Plan multi-lesson projects

Great big projects are always a hit with the kids.  They love really being able to get their teeth into something and it can also be a fantastic way to meet learning objectives which would be difficult to strive for in a single period.  It’s easy to shy away from these types of projects as they can be heavy on the planning – but actually planning one big project probably takes less time than, for example, planning six single lessons.  If you put in the time, effort and energy to plan extended projects well, you’ll be rewarded with motivated learners who enjoy achieving the learning objectives you’ve set.


4. Think about learning activities that can be repeated in a variety of ways

This sounds like a lazy planning short cut – and to a certain extent I suppose it is.  It also has the benefit that if you have a certain type of activity that is repeated regularly, for example writing posts for the class blog, then pupils will gain an understanding of how these types of lessons work and will settle down to actually getting on with the learning activities more quickly than in those lessons where you have to effectively start from scratch.


5. Collaborate with colleagues or you PLN

Never underestimate the power of your network.  Whether it’s your colleagues from the staffroom or your twitter followers, exchange ideas and share your best work.  You’ll find that if you’re generous with your ideas and share your best plans, you’ll get plenty in return which you can adapt and make your own.


6. Use our lesson plan search engine

We’ve created a lesson plan search engine which indexes lots of popular lesson plan sites so you can search them all in one go.  You may find some inspiration this way.


7. Be systematic

You’ve got a whole heap of planning to do.  Try and work through it in some kind of logical order.  This sounds obvious but I’ll bet you don’t always do it.  By being systematic you will actually get your work done more quickly and you can be sure that you don’t leave any gaps.


8. Look for inspiration around you

Lessons mean most to the pupils when they’re relevant.  There’s no better way of being relevant than drawing inspiration from the world around you.  Think back to events over the summer, how can these be built into your lessons in a way that will interest your new classes?


9. Really focus on the task in hand

Lesson planning is a big old task.  Set aside plenty of time and ensure you have everything you need before you get started.  Don’t try and carry on with other things at the same time and ideally set aside big chunks of time so you can really get into it.  If you try and take a piecemeal approach, fitting in your planning around many other activities it will take longer and you’ll likely end up with poorer quality plans at the end of it.


10. Plan as far ahead as you comfortably can

It can be tempting to do just enough to get by – but this is a mistake.  By planning as far ahead as you can now, you will be giving yourself the opportunity to maintain some quality of life once term hits.  It might seem arduous to spend yet another day of the summer holidays planning lessons but I guarantee you that you’ll be thankful in a few weeks time!  Planning a long way ahead and doing a lot of planning at one time also gives you more opportunity to ensure there is continuity in your lessons and provides you with the chance to follow specific themes or objectives through.  Of course, you can revisit your plans and adapt or amend them as necessary later in the term if you feel the need to – but this will be a lot easier than starting from scratch at 10pm on a Thursday night when you’ve finally finished marking 30 textbooks…

Do you have any more tips to make lesson planning easier?  Please share them by commenting below or by tweeting @creativeedu