Why annual planning makes sense and what is important
Long-term lesson planning creates security and relaxation in everyday stress. You don’t have to have a plan for everything, but if you create structure and define the most important cornerstones before the start of a new school year, you will go through life more relaxed.
Create a basic structure
Have you taken a lot of corrections with you on vacation? Can’t get the desired date for the class trip? Or didn’t you think that the “shot put” lesson is difficult to carry out in the snow? Such annoyances can be avoided with relatively little effort if you take a little time before the start of the school year.
Good planning at the right time pays off. Not only does it make it easier to organize your lessons, it also ensures that you can use your free time as such, because you don’t have to think about school all the time.
All beginnings are difficult
Some people love to plan things well in advance and in great detail, others love spontaneity and are more at war with long-term organization. Have you been putting off planning your year for weeks and just can’t bring yourself to start? Welcome to the club – you are not alone. It’s like that for everyone. The good thing is, you don’t have to do everything at once. Don’t even try. It’s better to start with a small, manageable first step. This will help you get past the block and get going.
Maybe the chaos on your desk is preventing you from dedicating yourself to planning for the year. Then clean up! By declaring war on the stack of unsorted documents, you create order and space for new thoughts. Try it. Maybe it will also help your motivation if you buy a nice new calendar, annual planner or a digital tool for these purposes.
Create an annual overview
The first thing you should do is create a short, individual annual overview for each class, which will later give you orientation at a glance. The motto is: less is more. So it can be a simple table that fits on an A4 page. 40 lines for 40 school weeks. Pay attention to holidays and public holidays by marking them in colour, for example.
Enter all planned topics in this overview, but also suitable periods for class tests, tests, presentations and the like. Ask yourself the following questions:
Which dates have already been set and can be entered (certificate conferences, internships, internal school events…)?
Which topics and learning content would I like to cover roughly in which weeks? What goes with which season?
- What does the school’s internal curriculum and syllabus say about material distribution?
- When is it advisable to plan and carry out excursions?
- In which weeks do presentations and lectures fit?
- What other projects could be pending (competitions, class trips…)?
If possible, also enter organizational deadlines for each of these appointments. When planning your year, also take your own appointment calendar to hand and compare important private appointments with those at school. In this way you avoid unpleasant surprises and don’t always have the vague worry in the back of your mind that you have overlooked something important.
These steps create the basis for a good school year preparation. If you take them to heart, you will ensure the rough organizational framework, the formal basic structure, without going into too much detail about the content and getting bogged down later.
The last week before the holidays
So that you can fully enjoy your summer holidays, it makes sense to set the course in the last week of school. That means: Even if it’s difficult, you should take a quick look at the next school year and think about what you can still do now. Make a checklist:
- Which topics would I like to build on in the next school year? Which ones will I have to completely redesign?
- What materials do I have to organize for this in the long term (e.g. films)?
- Which external cooperation partners do I need to inquire about and how much lead time do I need for this?
- Do parent talks, parent meetings, team meetings or meetings with the school administration still have to be planned?
- What would I personally like to do differently next year? What do I want to pay more attention to, what do I want to organize better? What do I definitely not want to forget during the holidays and should I therefore write it down?
The last week of vacation
Make conscious use of the non-teaching period shortly before the start of the school year, i.e. in the last one to two weeks of vacation, to determine where you stand and to get in the mood for the tasks ahead. This way you won’t be overwhelmed by sudden events on the first day of school, but start the new school year relaxed and with a good feeling. Your class will feel that too.
- Make a detour to the school before the official staff meeting. Clean up your workspace and look at the new timetable if it’s already there.
- What special tasks could you face this year? Does it make sense to coordinate this with colleagues at an early stage?
- Refine your rough annual planning by adding all the dates and information that are now available to you.
- Design your workplace at home in such a way that you enjoy spending time there again. How else could you upgrade it?
- What else do you need to organize or get before you start?
- Reward and Appreciate yourself for the work you have done. What could be good for you right now? Treat yourself consciously.
Refine the annual plan
You have already created a rough outline of the school year. You can use the transition phase around the start of the school year to refine your plan. The framework curriculum and the school’s internal guidelines and resolutions will also help you. If necessary, exchange ideas with colleagues – they will ask themselves some very similar questions as you. In addition, devote yourself to the following aspects, for example:
- What three competencies or goals do you want my students to achieve this school year?
- What topics am I particularly looking forward to this school year? How do I want to tackle them?
- Where do I need content-related input or collegial support? What literature and school materials could I use to prepare my lessons?
A good plan is not everything
Do not see your annual planning as a rigid specification, but as an ongoing process. During the school year there will be a need for changes at one point or another. This is normal and ensures that – despite all the need for well thought-out guidance – your everyday school life remains lively.
Finally, one more important tip: Take care of yourself. An ambitious, well thought-out plan is commendable, but it’s important to switch off in between. Gaining distance at the right moment is also a good form of preparation. If you succeed in this, you are also prepared for conflicts of interest and frustrating situations in which a fixed goal cannot be achieved or a great idea cannot be implemented easily. Then you will get to know and appreciate another valuable skill in everyday teaching: improvisation.
Design thinking as an impetus for your school development
With Design Thinking you will get to know a tried and tested and effective innovation and creativity method that you can use quickly and easily for teaching and/or school development. Experience change processes as an inspiring and creative joint task that succeeds in the long term if solutions and ideas are consistently thought of from different perspectives, developed with the respective reference groups and implemented in small steps.