You never know when they are going to come in handy. Now I am not a big fan of needlessly saved stuff. I don’t have boxes of worksheets and handouts lying around our house. I do, however, have a record of all of my planning from year to year on my computer and on CDs. Most importantly, I use them.
Periodic Review of Old Lesson Plans
Next year you will probably be going in a whole new direction with your curriculum. It is always nice to be able to mix things up and think creatively. Use that creativity to plan your units first, then reference old lesson plans and files to see where your previous work fits in. Not everything will be good and you’re likely to laugh at yourself for attempting some lessons. But over time, as veteran teachers will say, you will get into some effective habits of teaching certain topics based on what works. Just keep in mind that every year, every class is different.
Try setting a reminder on your calendar now to review old lessons early next year and at the end of the first semester. These are nice times to review and evaluate past approaches in order to inspire you to do better moving forward.
To My Surprise
In preparation for a recent webinar are presented on “Teaching Theology with Technology,” I took some time to look over saved lesson plans and notes. It was a great experience. I had forgotten some of the very creative activities, approaches, and lessons that I came up with years ago. It was definitely a boost in confidence to see how thoughtful I was back then. It was also great to think back about some of the kids I taught, many of whom have just graduated or are now in college.
An Organization System
As this year comes to a close, here are some suggestions on what to do with your stuff:
1) Save your lesson plans on your computer and burn them to a CD to save physical space.
2) For each physical piece of paper, ask yourself, what will I DO with this? If you can’t think of an action to go along with the paper or it is just nostalgic, then toss it. Don’t be the guy in the picture.
3) If you have a digital copy of something, then pitch the paper copy. It is easier to find and print on a computer than searching your classroom or house and then making copies.
4) If you only have papers, then place them in a three-ring binder in this order: unit plan/lesson plan, lesson handouts, worksheets, study guide, test, and performance assessment. This is much better than trying to organize and review files in a filing cabinet.
5) Scan or take pictures of student projects or sample activities that you would like to show future classes and that you may be able to use to create relevant rubrics.
6) Scan or save affirming letters and notes from students and parents in a “rainy day” file to reference and boost your confidence on bad teaching days.