Well, the never-ending planning battle continues! How do we go from the year plan, to planning a week or day?? I was talking to a friend of mine who is currently on the education journey that we have all been on to get us to this point. She is taking courses at the University of Saskatchewan in the hopes of becoming a teacher. Mind you, she isn’t in school to teach elementary education, but it still got me thinking. After posting the year plan, I got thousands of views and lots of chat on twitter about it. I’m glad you are finding it so helpful! But now what? Where do we go from there? I had that exact question when I was planning my year last year. The school year started and I needed to organize my week plan, but I just couldn’t break it down in a way that was conducive to an inquiry based environment and certainly not reggio-inspired! Here’s what I came up with…
I think as teachers, we don’t have a ton of flexibility in how our week plans can look. I personally find that because we have prep-release teachers that offer us the ability to have 50min of prep each day (I hope I’m not making some of you grind your teeth here, but we are so so fortunate in the Saskatoon Public Schools to have this invaluable time), that it makes it difficult to have a flexible day or week plan. Here’s what I have discovered; I don’t like day plans! I find them too restrictive to the learning that takes place in the classroom. I tend to “fly by the seat of my pants” most days on which direction the learning can go and that can really screw up the day “plan.” So, I’ve stuck with just a week plan instead. That offers me the ability to view my week quickly and then be able to draw arrows all over it when things don’t quite go as planned!
In my school division, we submit our week plan to our administration so that they have schedule for us, and then I use this as a template to pencil in some things that we are doing. That is the reasoning behind the programming notes. I wanted to include some little notes in order for others to understand what that time slot might look like. It was also handy for a sub, in case I had to leave unexpectedly and didn’t get a chance to write a good plan for them. The programming notes also helped me to organize the thoughts that I had and the goals that I wanted to achieve in my subject areas. The notes matched the objectives in our curriculum that were also highlighted in the year plan.
I want to make a little side note about Daily 5. I really like Daily 5 and many of our schools have adopted it as a way to teach literacy. However, it sort of fell by the way-side after a few weeks, as my students were just not in the space they needed to be to be able to really follow the program. So, instead I set up “centres” and during Daily 5 time, we did small-group writing and reading. I had a full-time educational assistant, so it was really wonderful and the children were able to have some one on one support. However, this was not our only writing and reading times of course, that always spilled into our collaboration time too.
Now, I always displayed our schedule to the children in the classroom, and this year, I did it a little differently as well. The schedule followed my schedule, in terms of wording. It offered us the opportunity to talk about collaboration, exploration, etc. and what that means in terms of working together in our environment. I took pictures the first couple weeks of school, of the children working during these times, and posted the photos next to the category and that became our schedule. The kids really loved it. They would run up to see what we were doing when they came in the morning and would be able to talk to their parents about what would take place that day.
As Daily 5 fizzled out in my room and turned into a writing or reading invitation to learning, so did many other things as well. Soon, my morning consisted of several invitations that were set up around the room that the children rotated around at their own pace, or when I found that they were getting antsy and needed a little switch up. There was always something set up that focused on letters, words, math, reading, and writing. Sometimes, the same invitation would last for days between the two Kindergarten classes (K1 and K2), and other times, it would just be for the day and then maybe a few days later, I would set up the same one again. I found this worked so much better! But, the times are put into my schedule for reasons to do with prep release, recess, library time, or lunch then anything else. Some teachers really love an organized day, I for one, do not!
So my quest for the perfect week plan continues…although I’m working on something currently that I will post as soon as it is perfected! I would love to hear how you plan your weeks.
Take time to organize yourself with a plan that works best for you and your students. In my case, that changed throughout the year and my week plan seemed to almost disappear! Don’t get frustrated when things don’t go as planned. There’s always a pencil to draw a little arrow across the pages!