The contents of the actual lesson plan book will vary from teacher to teacher. Some teachers like to use an online plan book. Others use the one provided by their school. Even others like to purchase a more colorful version at a teachers’ bookstore; however, for a new teacher, this is probably an unnecessary expense. In a previous post I gave a sample written-out lesson plan as a guide. This works well– AS A TEMPLATE– for understanding the thought process of developing a lesson or as something to give to an administrator when you are being evaluated. But in reality, you simply don’t have time (or space) to put that much detail into a lesson plan book.
In the elementary grades, your plan book should have enough detail that I should be able to walk into your classroom in your absence and determine the following information, simply by looking at your plan book:
- The time of day the lesson is taught
- The subject matter taught during that time period (reading, math, etc.)
- The specific lesson to be taught with page numbers if applicable
- Whether there is homework or in-class work associated with the lesson
- Any specials that occur during the day such as music, art, P.E., etc.
Keep in mind that you usually have a small box to write these plans in. Try to picture yourself in the position of the substitute that may have to read your plans–more on that in another post!
The plans are to guide YOU, not just a substitute teacher. It’s like having a to-do list pinned to your refrigerator that keeps you on task. There’s something about having your work planned IN WRITING that gives you confidence for the week and a feeling that you are on top of your game. Keep in mind that some administrators require that you turn in your lesson plans once a week. I turned mine in (at least photocopies) for many years until I began teaching in a large high school where it simply isn’t practical.
If you are teaching in a high school or middle school, it’s ok to use one side of the open lesson plan book for one or two classes periods and the other side for another. Simply put the headings for the class you’re teaching at the top of the column. In this case, I use the left hand page of the book for my Honors Biology class and the other page (to the right) for my Biology I class. Because there is so much more room, I also add a column for absentees and one for preparation/copies to be made.