Tuesday, August 3, 2010

A New Planning Process

Today's training session was mostly giving us time to plan the first 20 days of school, in math.  I was sooooo excited to finally get some planning done so I could be ahead of the game when classes began.  However, my attempt at a 20-day rough sketch didn't quite go as planned.  I only managed to crank out focus points for three days.  Now it doesn't take a strong mathematician to know that 3 out of 20 is a failing grade, but I'm telling myself not to look at this as a failure because I did learn some things during the process (and it's all about the process, right?)

Lesson planning has been a struggle for me since the beginning, but it's gotten easier as the years went on.  It used to take me hours just to do one week's worth of plans, and I was constantly changing my templates and approaches, always looking for a way to make it easier and quicker.  See, I'm a very detailed-oriented person, I tend to think sequentially, I over-analyze everything, and I don't like to make wrong decisions.  Combine these traits together and you can pretty much imagine why lesson planning can be such a headache for me.

Well, today I came into the session knowing these things about myself and coaching my mind not to go there. I started out well in the beginning, but as more things were explained and more teachers were asking questions, my old habits started creeping back.  Eventually, they took hold and I became stuck.  I didn't know where to start, I didn't know where to go next, I couldn't figure out "the right order" and I was so fixated on not planning the unit out correctly.  The instructional coaches offered solutions such as grouping things together, not planning out an entire day at a time but just getting an idea here and there of where I want to go, making a list of the goals then shuffling them around to make them fit, etc.  Towards the end of the session I was starting to get somewhere, and I managed to jot some things down for the first three days.

I also figured out why lesson planning all of a sudden became hard again when I felt like I had mastered a system that worked for me last year: I was having to plan something new.  For me, it was routines, and mixing those routines in with content.  For the past three years I've only been taught how to plan content, so when routines got thrown into the mix, I panicked.  Well, now I know what my new challenge is, and I will have to keep working with myself and giving myself some breathing room to take longer than usual at the beginning.  I'm going to allow myself to struggle through this new planning process because I know by the end of the year, this will once again be a breeze!

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