We appreciate that lesson planning in primary schools requires a lot of thought and time. This is why we’ve put together this list of tips and tricks on how to make lesson planning easier, and hopefully more enjoyable! Try some of these suggestions to help you streamline your planning process, saving yourself time, without having to compromise the quality of your lessons.
Not enough hours in the day
Before delving in to the question of ‘how to make lesson planning easier?’, we’ve identified some challenges that can occur when you’re in the process of planning lessons. As you’ll know from experience, there are a few hurdles when it comes to planning in primary schools. Time is certainly the most apparent, especially when there’s a whole week’s worth of lessons to prepare. Lesson planning is ever-present on your to-do list.
Pressure to re-invent the wheel
Another challenge is the pressure to come up with the most creative, inspiring and effective lessons of all time. Especially with the rise of social media (TikTok particularly) it’s all too easy to begin comparing, and doubting whether your own lessons will motivate and engage your students well.
Cater for differing levels and needs
There might also be a lot of different needs in your class, which you’ll have to consider. This can make lesson planning in primary school complicated. And, of course, no matter how much time you spend on your lesson plans, your pupils may not respond to it in the way you expected and hoped.
While we can’t help with how your children respond to your well-thought-out lessons, we do have tips that will support your lesson planning process, which should give you confidence in your work.
Focus on the end goal – The best way to plan a lesson is by first identifying what the objectives are, and then figuring out how can you achieve that goal through activities.
How? Pinpoint what you want your lesson to teach your students, then come up with a list of resources you can use, or activities you can do to teach pupils this skill or knowledge. You will have overarching curriculum aims, as well as learning objectives for each lesson, so make sure these are clear.
See how Natterhub aligns to the curriculum to aid with planning online safety lessons.
Do your planning in batches – To boost your productivity, do repetitive tasks together, rather than constantly stopping and starting. This means, instead of planning every day, for the following day, set aside a chunk of time to plan a week’s worth of lessons ahead of time.
How? Schedule time in your diary to do a certain number of hours of solid lesson plan preparation, and plan multiple lessons at once. This will not only help you stay ahead, but you'll be able to maintain a 'flow' through your lessons and keep learning consistent. This may involve you staying later on certain days of the week, or coming in earlier. Or, set time aside in the evening at home on particular days or over the weekend, to go over next week's lesson plans - but ensure you stick to your allocated planning time to ensure you maintain work-life balance.
Organise your time – It is important you create a schedule and pencil in some planning time.
How? Make a weekday work schedule, which includes time for planning and relaxing. Yes, you should schedule some me-time so that you don’t forget to look after yourself and your loved ones. And, be smart when planning so that you’re not missing out on the important things, for example, do your planning after you’ve put your children to bed.
Bear in mind different learning styles – As mentioned above, every pupil is different, so make the most of the support available to you. Ask your teaching assistant for their input. You could ask your students and their caregivers for additional insights into how they learn best, and take advantage of this - let your students help you plan!
How? It’s good to adapt your lessons to bring the best out of your pupils, so use the resources available to you, ask for help and if need be, dedicate some extra time in your schedule to adjust certain things. Some lessons may not work out first time, so think about what worked and what didn't and how children responded, and plan to do things slightly differently next time.
Prioritise children’s independent learning – When planning for a primary school lesson, emphasise your children’s independent learning by giving them activities to do by themselves or with others. This will increase their engagement with the content and take the pressure off you.
How? Give your pupils tasks they can work on independently that will strengthen their skills and support their development. Whilst your children are busy working, you can work through your to-do list (even if that is writing your to-do list and filing papers) or think about your next lesson.
Ask your colleagues for input – Don’t be afraid to recycle their lesson plans, or even your old lesson plans. They may have a great method for teaching a certain topic.
How? Approach your colleagues and ask them for any tips or advice they might have to make lesson planning easier. Every teacher is familiar with the demands of lesson planning, so they’ll be more than willing to give you some pointers. Don't reinvent the wheel! Could an activity you used for a completely different topic in the past, be adapted for a new lesson if it worked well?
Utilise planning resources – There are plenty of educational resources and materials that have ready-made lesson plans for you to follow, it's just a matter of finding them and adapting them to your needs.
How? Subscribing to educational resource websites like Twinkl can save lots of time and effort, as they have a wealth of resources across a range of subjects - just type in what you need, download and edit or use straight away. Many learning platforms have ready-made planning tools to help educators plan effective and engaging lessons easily - Natterhub is the perfect example. Not only does it help you deliver 350 interactive, ready-made online safety lessons for primary aged children, but it also includes an invaluable curriculum online planning tool. This useful tool has been expertly designed to help you plan and prepare inspiring and informative online safety and digital literacy lessons, saving you huge amounts of time and effort.
The next few weeks will certainly be busy with planning for the new term, but we hope our top tips on planning in primary school and how to make lesson planning easier, will help you keep on top of your workload.
And don't forget you can try out Natterhub's online safety platform and curriculum online planning tool with a free trial or why not contact us for a chat about how we can help you plan, deliver and assess online safety lessons in school.
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