I find there are two types of teachers, the over prepared and the underprepared. As a collective we really struggle with the middle ground.
Those who are there though, in the middle ground of being not over prepared or underprepared can teach us something.
So how do they do it? Can you do it? What would happen if you do it?
Preparation, on all levels, is not just about being organised or ready, being prepared actually has a far bigger impact than we realise. It’s about ensuring our day runs smoothly, or as best it can considering we are teachers and there is always some kind of interruption. It’s part of self-care.
For us as teachers though this does mean getting your classroom, lessons, assessment and admin all in order, ready for whatever it is that is coming your way.
Tomorrow is coming, so what do you need to have prepared? What can you prepare?
There is nothing more concerning to me than seeing a teacher prepare a worksheet for the lesson DURING THE LESSON (yep – true story!), or seeing a teacher frantically cutting something out or scrambling to make a Google Slide for the lesson that started one minute ago (also both true stories). This is not what prepared looks like.
The opposite is also a little concerning… A teacher who planned a lesson, but the students just didn’t get it… ‘too bad I planned it so you are doing it’ or a student who hasn’t finished and are kept in to do so, not because they haven’t really tried, but because they were expected to do SO MUCH because it was prepared. This is also not prepared.
If you underprepare it’s on you, if you over prepare it’s on you – not your students.
So, can you do it?
Yes. You can.
Preparation is balance, for you and your students.
FOR THE UNDERPREPARER
Practice, plan and try it out. Underplanning can be a little scary because ‘arghh what do I do with them now???’. This is why you always need to have a few tricks up your sleeve – and no, not ‘read a book’ or ‘free time’. Games or quizzes, passion or research projects, class question time which they drive… Don’t make this the plan though, this is for emergencies only. From here you need to use the feedback form from the lesson to make adaptations for next time, and overtime you will find perfect preparation.
FOR THE OVERPLANNER
STOP. You have too much already. What do you want your students to learn? Not do. Learn? Make this your focus question and see if all those worksheets and tasks are really necessary. Pull it back. If you plan too much but are certain that it is high quality learning there is always tomorrow.
Knowing the right amount to prepare takes practice. It helps to plan your lesson with time frames in small 10-15minute chunks, have some tricks up your sleeve and be OK to leave some stuff for tomorrow. Your students and you will thank you for it.