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Can't plan lessons in less than 3 hours, what am I doing wrong?

Discussion in 'Trainee and student teachers' started by dave200, Apr 21, 2012.

  1. I don't mind the PGCE, it's just the workload I am struggling with because I cannot plan lessons quick enough so I work every evening till say 1 or 2 am and then have to work all weekend too.
    I'm gonna be teaching 15 lessons on this placement in primary school.
    How can I reduce my lesson planning time? I have schemes of work for half the subjects, yet I still take ages.
    I really want to pass this course, any tips?
  2. I don't mind the PGCE, it's just the workload I am struggling with because I cannot plan lessons quick enough so I work every evening till say 1 or 2 am and then have to work all weekend too.
    I'm gonna be teaching 15 lessons on this placement in primary school.
    How can I reduce my lesson planning time? I have schemes of work for half the subjects, yet I still take ages.
    I really want to pass this course, any tips?
  3. I can't really give advice, but i'm feeling the same.

    Thought it might be reassuring to know someone else is in the same boat!
  4. Captain Obvious

    Captain Obvious New commenter

    How detailed are your plans, and does that time include resource creation etc?
  5. 2-3 page plans
    yes includes resource creation
  6. Same as above pretty much. If I havent spent loads of time thinking through all the different aspects of the lesson then I'm scared I won't know what to say/do and the kids'll learn nothing
  7. Cosmic_Rainbow

    Cosmic_Rainbow New commenter

    guys i feel exactly the same, im up till like 3am most night and so only get a few hours sleep and im teaching 18 lessons a week. nothing i do is right in the eyes of my mentore which doesnt help. and they wont help as they dont want me to "steal their ideas!" but to come up with my own
  8. Captain Obvious

    Captain Obvious New commenter

    When it comes to lesson plans, keep it simple. Remember they don't have to be essays in their own right. Write out each task as a sentence, no more (your resources will take care of the rest). Keep the rest in your mind or, if you have the option, on a presentation (which are good ways to plan a lesson - copy and paste on to the proforma).
    A lesson doesn't have to be a play - it can change in the middle and you will have to adapt to changing situations. It's not easy, but have faith that you're doing the right thing. If you go into that room knowing what you want them to learn and have the resources to achieve it, the lesson can almost write itself.

  9. fantastischfish

    fantastischfish Established commenter

    Why is EVERY lesson plan 2-3 pages? At this stage, I wouldn't expect any student I'm mentoring to be doing that. Use the university's/school's lesson plan pro-forma for observed lessons, but plan less thoroughyl for other lessons.
    You cannot be all singing and dancing for ALL lessons, you will die. I appreciate you want to impress, but if you aren't managing your planning, you aren't meeting some of the standards, in my opinion. So prioritise. Each week, choose one class to receive super-dooper lessons, the rest get 'acceptable' lessons in which progress is made but you don't have a million resources etc.
    Plan sequences. So instead of planning Monday, then Tuesday etc, plan literacy for the week, then numeracy for the week etc. I do this in secondary with individual classes.
  10. fantastischfish

    fantastischfish Established commenter

    This is ridiculous and I suggest you contact your union. If you are working until 3am most nights you are either doing far too much, you don't manage your time effectively, or you are not secure enough in your knowledge. All of these things need to be addressed.
    I would be having serious concerns about any mentee who worked until 3am. If you mentor isn't raising any concerns, you need to because if you are getting no support, how can you expect to improve. 3am is not normal, ever for a student teacher.
  11. "3am is not normal, ever for a student teacher."
    good to hear - I did this a few times on my last placement, usually I went to bed at 2.00am,
    I'm going to try and plan as fast as I can tomorrow and see how the week goes - if it's rubbish I'm going to have to raise this issue with my mentor as I obviously can't complete this course otherwise.
    I shouldn't have chosen Primary, my lack of knowledge about all the varied subjects and no idea how to teach them is what slows me down alot.
  12. sleepyhead

    sleepyhead New commenter

    I agree with Eva. If I thought that any of my trainees was doing this, I would be having a hard word with them, and with their mentor. No wonder you can't do anything right - you're exhausted.
    What Eva says about planning sequences is spot on. It's no good planning a lesson then a lesson then a lesson - you need to be following a logical scheme. With 12 years under my belt, I can put together a scheme for a term in a few hours, thinking about what I want them to have learned by the end and the steps needed to get them there. I'm unlikely then to plan lessons in any detail at all - you would still need to do that, but you should find it more straightforward.
    Is there a Professional Mentor in your school who you could talk to? If the subject mentor is this singularly unhelpful, then it does need to be flagged up to someone.

  13. I can sympathise with you as during my second placement I broke down in tears and almost quit twice because I couldn't stand coming home and spending all night up to 11pm planning lessons for the next day. I got it all wrong. I'm a perfectionist and I wanted every lesson to be awesome, brilliant, amazing, wow but really by the end I realised that my best lessons weren't always the best 'planned' in my eyes.
    The thing is, if you're spending that much time you're doing it wrong. Don't automatically assume that you won't be an effective teacher if you're not spending hours. I got lured into that trap. Time management is a skill and you develop it, some quicker than others but it is a skill you develop alongside any other skill in teaching.
    What I have tried is setting myself a time limit. I don't work past 8:30 pm, ever. If my lessons aren't finished or awesome, I go and teach that lesson regardless. The lessons went fine. I'm only human, and by setting this limit I was determined to readjust my strategies to fit in the time I had. That way I can have a life and relax and wind down before bed. You need sleep over planning time. I was up until 1am once in 5 weeks and the next day was when I had my breakdown. I learned from it, I needed to.
    Another thing is, the more detailed your lessons are, the more likely they are to fall apart if you're inexperienced. You have to keep it simple. If you have 6 different activities going on it's not only more to plan, it's a lot to handle in the session. When a lesson is clear in your head it's easier to lead it in my opinion. A simple lesson doesn't have to be boring.You could have a great lesson with the kids debating for example. You only need to plan key questions and a stimulus. Hopefully you get my point.
    Good luck.
  14. wheek

    wheek New commenter

    Unfortunately sometimes you may get a mentor who is expecting far too much in terms of lesson plans, the purpose of a lesson plan is very different during training. They are so detailed because you have to evidence and justify every teaching decision you make- why you used a particular strategy, why you used those resources, which aspects are personalised learning for certain children, the list goes on and on.
    As a student in my final year I do not spend more than 20 minutes on a lesson plan of two pages... Lessons cannot always be all singing, all dancing. Take those risks when you are being observed. However, this isn't to say that I don't spend my evenings doing stuff for placement, marking work, writing reflections, filling out assessment, other tasks, making resources... Keep going though! When you get that job at the end of it, it will all be worth it!
  15. hammie

    hammie Lead commenter

    can you swap resources with anybody else from your course? You don't have to reinvent the wheel <u>every</u> time!
  16. For what it's worth, here's the advice I've given to a couple of current trainees who have had similar issues.
    1 - Set the objectives for the lesson.
    2 - decide how you are going to measure whether these have been achieved or not (outcomes).
    3 - deciding 2 should allow you write/develop/choose your plenary
    4 - now identify the skills/knowledge/techniques needed to achieve the outcomes
    5 - you should be able to split these into 3 groups: a) already covered, b) can grow from something they have already done, c) new.
    6 - design/write/choose your starter based on a combination of a and b from above. (a) to ensure that they have retained previous knowledge/skills and (b) so you can give them a good start point
    7 - the main part of the lesson - how are you going to get (c) across to the pupils? Modelling? Investigation? Chalk and Talk? ... ... ...
    8 - Resources and Assessment (more below)
    9 - this should then lead you in to your plenary which you decided earlier, so you should be done!
    When it comes to resources, I think a lot of people (myself included) have wasted hours looking for the perfect resource only to then decide that there isn't one so go and make something themselves. Therefore I give myself a 10 minute searching limit. If I can't find what I want in that time, then I will make it myself. 10 mins is perhaps a bit short if you aren't familiar with your "favourite" resource "centres" (could be books, websites, school filing system, something you saw on tele etc ...) but give yourself a limit and stick to it. In time you'll know that xxxxx is a really good place to look for so-and-so type activities whilst yyyyyyy is really good for you-know-what-worksheets, so in time that 10 minute limit is very achievable. It also forces you to be brutal and trust your gut instinct which is hugely important I think.
    I know some people are resource-centric or activity-centric (ie they will build a lesson around a particular resource/acitivity they've come across) but I find that this either become really generic and not aimed at YOUR pupils, or, in order to make it specific to YOUR pupils, it ends up taking so much time adapting that you would have been better off just starting with a blank sheet of paper.
    I'm a secondary Maths teacher and did my GTP last year, so I guess stage and subject differences may make the above more or less useful, but hopefully there's something there which can help.
  17. I sympathise (am doing PGCE secondary biology). My lesson planning was getting ridiculous. But I got some good advice from one of the teachers. Get your LO in three simple ideas (all, most some etc), then look at three activities which will demonstrate the students achieved the objectives - so an activity and a way of assessing the activities). He also said, don't put anything into the lesson unless it directly relates to the learning objectives.
    Once you've done that, then jazz it up.
    Finally, think of the lesson backwards. What do you want them to leave the classroom with at the end of the lesson and build up to that. What structure or ideas or activities do you need to support the overally learning outcomes.
    My lesson plans are no means perfect, but for me, this kind of thinking really helped.
    Good luck!
  18. Guys, seriously, 2 hours per lesson plan, this is undoable as when you take on the role and have all the repsonsibilities of a teacher you physcially would not be able to do this, for example think if you had a class of 30 - 5 minutes marking per book is near enough 3 hours in itself!
    I plan on a Sunday afternoon and it honestly takes me about 2 hours - I plan to Weds then add to my plans as and when ive gauged how the children are doing. In the holidays i do my medium term plan for things like PE, ICT, and lit and num obviously (nothing deatiled just like a spider diagram and how i can link my objs to the topic im doing) then i use these to help me plan weekly. Eg at the moment im creating non fiction booklets in literacy and measuring in maths so if you keep on the same theme for a week or two and plan for progression in your lessons and looking at things in different ways, its ultimately the same lessons with just further activities.
    I would seriously be worrying if you are spending that long planning, you will make yourself ill x
  19. Hi I'm an NQT, last year I did exactly what your are doing and by the end I was physically and mentally exhausted. I only came out with satisfactory and it was because I ran out of steam. I now have most evenings to myself and get all my planning done through the week and in my PPA. I'm sure the more experienced teachers and mentors on here have given you more advice than I can but you have got to get yourself out of the routine. Before I start typing anything I my note book and write Monday - Friday for each subject. Under each day I write what I want the children to achieve and an idea down, sometimes its a few sometimes its just 1. Once this is done I start on my actual planning with my notebook beside me. I can see from my notebook the sequence of lessons and how they follow on. Choose the subject say Literacy to do first and complete all lesson plans for that then move onto your next, will be much easier. Are there any resources you can use from school to reduce this time? Schools have so many so make sure you ask around first, may save you a job. Not all resources are on the internet that you may want so spend less time searching and make them yourself, you will be surprised how little time it takes. Hope this helps.
  20. i share your pain, planning takes time especially at this time mentors and teachers will never praise you. However, believe in yourself and if it's possible get resources from TES, buy books, ask your colleagues and you'll be fine. Good luck

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