As a first year teacher, I killed myself…yes... killed myself to create the best lesson plans possible. I thought that I was investing not only in my current students but in future students as well. I figured that if I spent almost every waking moment of that first year developing knock-out lessons, then I would be able to use those for years to come.
Well, second year of teaching I realized everything that I had done wrong the first year. In other words, yet again I killed myself to create the best lessons possible.
Third year, I consciously tried not to kill myself creating lessons. However, yet again, I killed myself creating the best lesson s and materials possible (to be fair I wasn’t just killing myself over lesson plan activities but also grading, RTI, meetings etc.). At the end of the day, I wanted excellence for my students and was willing to put in the work to achieve that excellence.
Fast forward and after four years of teaching, I have learned a major point… NOTHING WORKS EXACTLY THE SAME TWICE (insert crying-exasperated face here). This is incredibly frustrating. I want the best, the very best, for my students, but I have come to realize that I cannot spend each and every year of my life consumed by school. There has to be a solution. Each student is different; each class is different; each school year is different; and each school is different. Each have their own personality and culture. This is great! It shows the beautiful diversity God has given us. However, it makes the life of a teacher difficult. No longer will one curriculum work. What works one year or with one class may not work another year or with another class. What is needed is a multifaceted curriculum, a curriculum that doesn’t just provide one practice activity for a topic but instead provides 2-3 practice options and different variation ideas. For each topic, teachers need an arsenal of curriculum supplies.
By my fourth year of teaching, at least 60-80% of what I planned for my class was very similar to lessons from my previous years of teaching. What I learned to do my fourth year was to take a lesson I had already created and give it a twist to match the personality and learning styles of my students. What helped the most was that by the 4th year I had 2-4 different versions for each topic. I came to realize that no perfect curriculum exists. Instead, teachers need a range of options available to them for each and every topic. A great curriculum should have multiple different activities or assignments for each topic as well as a plethora of ideas for varying up those activities/assignments. A teacher can then pick each year which assignments best fit the personality and learning style of their students.
The moral of the story here is STOP trying to find that perfect curriculum or book. NOTHING WORKS EXACTLY THE SAME WAY TWICE! With this in mind, begin to build your arsenal of curriculum supplies. Stop thinking in terms of creating or putting together the best curriculum so you can repeat it for years to come. Instead think in terms of building a repertoire of items you can pull from, rearrange, and change up each year.
Happy Teaching :)
- Founder of Chemistry with Confidence