Plan Your Next School Year with 3 Easy Steps

Now that summer is here, my goal is to get you ready to successfully plan your next school year.

If you’re the type of educator that simply needs a break from everything school-related during the summer, then STOP READING! Planning can wait! Enjoy the summertime. Have fun in the sun, turn off your alarm, and conquer that bucket list. When you return for the upcoming school year, just promise to pick up reading where you’ve left off.

If you’re the type of educator that occasionally has school on the mind in the summer months (that’s me), you may already be in the pre-planning phase for the upcoming school year. So, continue reading.

Regardless of when you like to prepare for the upcoming school year, you don’t need anyone to remind you how essential planning ahead of time is. You know that. I’m sure you remember a time or two where you wished you would have thought out your day a little more thoroughly after a disastrous lesson with your students.

We as educators have strong ambitions for planning a successful school year, but we often don’t know where to start. So, let me help you out. I’ll give you the blueprint. It’s your job to put it all together.

3 Easy Steps to Plan Your School Year

Step 1: Sketch a Plan

It’s hard to build anything without first creating the perfect design. Teachers are the architects of their program, and their blueprint for the school year is a scope and sequence. This is a brief outline designed by the educator that gives an overview of skills and content that will be covered in the programs curriculum over a period of time (scope) and in a specific order (sequence).

The first step to planning a successful school year starts with a scope and sequence. Think of this as a pacing guide that shows what the student will be learning throughout the semester or year. This exercise takes little time to accomplish, but pays huge dividends with planning. Here are tips on how to create a viable scope and sequence:

  1. Grab your school calendar and determine the number of instructional days you will have with your students.
  2. Shave off 10%-20% of those days for holidays, assemblies, sick leave, etc. to determine a feasible amount of instructional time with your students. I had 72 total days with my elementary students (2x a week). I created a scope and sequence that covered 60 days (pacing guide).
  3. When planning, jot down types of units you teach and how many instructional days it would take to cover that unit. Plan an extra day or two if needed. Just make sure the combination of days matches the number of days in your pacing guide. If you have 60 days to work with and 8 units to cover, your goal is to have exactly 60 days of planning to cover those units.
  4. Once you’ve gathered all the pieces to your puzzle, it’s time to put it together. Start piecing in units within your school calendar. When finished, you’re ready for step 2.

Step 2: Create Resources for Your Program

Demonstrating your knowledge of teaching is one thing. Showing your evidence of teaching is another. The adage of “I got it all in my head” can only go so far. Putting together resources such as lesson plans, assessments, and rubrics signifies a high level of professionalism and shows you have put some thought into your teaching.

One common argument I hear from colleagues is “resources take too much time to create.” Yes, developing resources can eat up a lot of time, but there are shortcuts one can take to reduce that time. My solution, create templates that work for you. Once you have a template, inputting the information is easy. Here’s a 2-page template I use for my Physical Education activities. Check out the table below to see what I included in my template. If you like it, feel free to contact me and I will send it your way.

School year template

Using a template for lesson plans is a shortcut teachers can use to save time in planning.

Activity Theme – Helps categorize activities into units. Activity Name – Larger font is easier to identify when accessing in PE Resource Library
Intended Grade Level – Identifies appropriate grade level for activity. Learning Objective – Provides rationale for activity in your lesson.
Applicable Learning Standards – Check off any of the 5 National PE Standards you can assess during the activity. Evaluation Criterion – Shows evidence of teaching criterion for annual evaluations. I purposely included all 3 teaching evaluations in Washington State for my colleagues to use in their district.
Equipment – List all equipment that will be needed for the activity. Set Up – Everything a teacher needs to do before the activity begins.
Diagram – Visual aid for layout of activity. Helps with the set up. Rules – Describes how to play activity. Be short and concise as possible.
Reteach / Extension – Identifies how to make the activity easier (reteach) or more challenging (extension) for students. Activity Variation – Use your creativity to modify your activity and change it up with your students.
Contact Information – Show colleagues who created the activity in case they have questions or need clarity on your activity. Learning Outcomes – Teach to the standards by assessing these learning outcomes for grade level.
Assessment Ideas – List ways that each standard can be assessed during the activity. Notes – Reflect on the activity you taught and jot down any change or modification you would make for the future.

Step 3: Build your PE Resource Library

A PE Resource Library can house all your units, activities, assessments, rubrics, visual aids, and additional resources. Involve colleagues in your program to build this library together. Over time, this library will grow, and you’ll have everything you need. I keep my resource library online and print out materials when needed for sub lessons, professional developments, and teacher evaluations.

My Challenge for You

“If you fail to plan, you are planning to fail” – Benjamin Franklin

As we approach the upcoming school year, I encourage you to plot out your school year and begin building resources for your Physical Education program.

I am always looking to add resources to my teaching arsenal. If you have resources you feel would benefit other educators, share those with your colleagues in the Physical Education community.

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