Lesson Planning in a Pandemic
Does anyone else feel like they have whiplash trying to figure out what's going on this school year? Yesterday morning, the first day of school was August 3rd. Then yesterday afternoon, the governor said August 17th. Then two hours later, the press said he meant that the first day for in-person was the 17th, but schools could start on their regular date online, so back to August 3rd. This morning, there was questions about funding if we started online, so now, we're starting August 17th? I think?
Insert dramatic sigh here.
I know I'm not the only one trying to figure this mess out, so I figured I'd share what I'm doing to plan and (attempt to) be prepared for this maybe distance learning, maybe in-person, maybe both school year, knowing that everything is still so up in the air!
Use Google Drive...for Everything.
Y'all. I've said it once, and I'll say it again: Google Drive is God's gift to mankind. I do everything on Google Drive in normal years, but this year, I'm doing EVERYTHING. I organize my Drive as pretty and efficiently as possible, and then put everything in there. Lesson plans, presentations, worksheets, quizzes--it all gets uploaded. I make any and all materials using Google, too! Slides is great for creating PowerPoints and worksheets, and Forms is great for quizzes.
By using Google Drive, I'm confident I'll always have exactly what I need, from anywhere I need it. It won't matter if I'm teaching from home, from school, or some mix of the two. No more worrying about leaving my planner or materials at school when we (inevitably!) end up switching to learning from home one afternoon. Google Drive also saves everything as you work (which has saved me so many times!), and you can go back and see all previous versions of a file! It is sweet, organized, stress-free perfection.
Create Assignments That Can Be Printed or Assigned Digitally
Now this is where Google Slides comes in clutch. When I have felt ready to plan, I've worked on making assignments that can be assigned digitally or printed out for in-person learning. Here's how I do it:
Google Drive is also great for differentiating learning and adding in a little bit of audio to support your below-grade level learners!
Note Which Lessons Can Be Skipped
As we go through the school year, most of us end up skipping a lesson here and there for events, assemblies, or some other reason. One thing I'm doing this year is creating a list now of what lessons can be skipped, and why. I'm guessing there's going to be plenty of missed days this year, whether from last minute changes from in-person to online or days where the internet decides not to cooperate. I know many states are also looking at having shorter school years this year. Having a list of lessons that can be skipped gives me peace of mind in knowing that I'll have a plan to flexibly navigate this year.
Change Planning Time into Self-Care Time
I used to over-plan and spend the summer making lesson plans and resources, only to find out I couldn't use them for some reason or another. A few years ago I realized how much time I was wasting making things I wasn't sure I could use and started streamlining my planning. This year, I'm really trying to keep that in mind.
Still, I'm a plan-ahead kinda girl, and usually I have at least the entire first quarter planned by the time we go back to school. Not this year. I've had to tell myself to stop working on more than one occasion, but as soon as I hear a change that will affect some part of what I'm planning, I stop. Immediately. No more "I might be able to use this later on." For instance, when I found out we might be using a different online curriculum, I stopped everything I was planning for our normal curriculum. I'm not making any gen-ed supplements either, because I don't know what supplements I'll need. Instead, I'm just taking the time to relax, which is definitely not how I normally spend my summers! If I can do it, so can you. Watch some Netflix, make some popsicles, and buy a cute new mask. We're going to need all the rest, brain power, and flexibility we can get this year so that we're ready to teach hope, SEL, and academics. Don't waste your time and energy on things that you might not need. It's just not worth it!
So stay safe, wash your hands, put on a mask, and take a deep breath. We got this!
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