Planning your whole year
This post looks at how you can be prepared for teaching your elementary class, including: managing behaviour, preparing lessons, covering the curriculum and designing your classroom.
It can be so difficult to know where to start when planning your new teaching year. There are so many things to consider and it can feel ridiculously overwhelming. Here are some tips and advice to help you plan out your first few weeks and the coming year.
What does the school want to see?
Your first step will be your school's expectations. Some schools are very clear and detail about what they expect, including what your displays need to have and your timetable already completed for you. Other schools tell you to cover all the subjects but leave the rest up to you. Either of these scenarios can be daunting. So take a deep breath and start at the beginning.
Plan out your timetable
Your timetable needs to include all the expected subjects, your core subjects will be defined by your school and will usually be pretty standard. Math, English, science etc. You will need to work out the timings of your lessons and play around with them as the term progresses, it is very difficult to get it right first time so expect things to change.
You don't need everything planned out before you start the year, your plans will change and adapt as you go, but having an idea of the things you would like to teach is a good idea, think about the core subjects and the topics you would like to cover.
For the start of term think about setting up your classroom culture, so spend a lot of time working on getting to know the class and giving them your expectations. Using the first week or two to really get to know the class and making them aware that you expect them to behave a certain way will benefit you hugely for the rest of the year.
You will probably be given an over arching plan for math, the areas you will be expected to cover and possibly even when you are expected to cover them. This will allow you to sketch out the math planning for the year ahead.
For each mathematical area take time to introduce new vocabulary and consider how you will explain the concepts to the children. When explaining a tricky topic it is a good idea to start with small numbers and easy to solve problems so that children learn the concept before tackling the bigger problems.
As with math you will probably be given a long term plan that let's you know the topics to cover. Your English lessons will have much more freedom than your math lessons in that you can take time to investigate the different aspects of the language and written work.
When planning your English lessons it is a good idea to link them to previous lessons and experiences the children have had.
Science is such a fun and engaging subject but one that a lot of teachers struggle to plan for effectively. For each topic you want to teach in science plan a mixture of active experiments and investigations along with time to reflect on these and make observations on the experience. It is also important to include time before hand to make predictions, allowing children to really think about what might happen.
Social Studies (History etc.)
The umbrella of social studies includes so many different lessons. You will need to plan these out also but keep in mind that the ideas you will be introducing need to be pitched at the right level and have related activities.
Other Subjects - art, PE etc.
Some schools have specialist teachers for the other subjects, if they do not, you will be responsible for planning these also. Think about the things you want the children to learn and start there, if you have a class topic you can link the lesson to this but it is more important to get to the things the children will learn.
Seasonal Subjects and topics
Personally I love seasonal lessons, I like to take opportunities to teach children about different times of year, celebrations and different religious festivals. Fitting these into your planning isn't an essential part of the year but it can make things fun and can be a bit of a lifesaver when stuck for what to teach on particular days.
It is important to think about how your classroom will look. You and your class will spend a lot of time in that room over the year so making it a nice place to be is worth giving some thought to. Classroom design takes time to get right, some people like to have a theme in their class, this isn't essential and if you don't want to do it then don't, it is as simple as that!
Role play areas
Depending on the age of your class you may want an area for pretend and dramatic play. I think a role play are can be beneficial for all primary ages but not all teachers and schools agree.
Introducing different scenes in your role play allows children a chance to experiment with the outside world. Areas such as shops, cafes, space centres, vets surgery and doctors offices and hospitals all work well. Just like the seasonal lessons it is fun to create seasonal role play areas as well, for example recreating Santa's workshop at Christmas can be great for your class.
The type and amount of displays in your classroom may be directed by your school, if not and it is up to you, it's a good idea to make sure your displays serve a purpose. That might sound like a very obvious statement but it can easily be overlooked when a display looks great it doesn't always serve a purpose. Your displays can give children relevant and useful information, facts and reminders (particularly in math) or be used to celebrate the children's work.
When designing your displays think carefully about your children as the needs and temperament of your class will affect how brightly colored and elaborate you want to make your displays.
You will need to consider your classroom routines. How will you set up your transitions? Will you use a signal such as a bell or some other sound to let children know it is time to change activities or just to stop what they are doing?
When it comes to behaviour you will need to decide how you will be rewarding positive behaviour and how you will be discouraging unwanted behaviour. Again some schools have their own school wide policies but in your classroom you will need to set the culture. Being clear on your behaviour decision at the start of the year will make for better classroom management from the beginning and throughout the year.
Never miss a post!
Or you can: