Elementary Music, Organization

Tips for Keeping on Top of Lesson Planning

Lesson planning. AKA the bane of most teachers’ existence.

I cannot wait until I have taught for a while, so that I will have more lesson ideas. Sometimes I feel so stuck for fun lesson ideas, and it seems to take me forever to write a lesson.

Because I sometimes find it difficult, I have implemented a lesson planning schedule to help keep me on track. This is one of the biggest reasons I am able to get all of my planning done on time and keep my stress levels down! Lesson planning with this schedule keeps me organized.

And we all know that being organized is one of the most important aspects of being a good teacher.

You can check out my other organization posts here. Subscribe for more—I will be continuing this series for a while!

Tips for Keeping on Top of Lesson Planning. Schedule and tips so that your lesson plans are turned in on time! Help stay organized no matter what you teach: elementary school, middle school, high school, art, music, or pe! Becca's Music Room



Schedule to make lesson planning easy

Tuesday- Think about lesson planning.

Yes, I have a day dedicated to thinking about lesson planning. This helps because it gives me plenty of time to think things through. Sometimes, I will not have any ideas in the morning, and as the day goes on, I come up with something great. I usually just write down the ideas on Tuesday.

For example, this week my list says “Carol of the Bells Orff, Pentatonix listen, Christmas sing along. Listen to winter, talk about winter, sock skating to beat, hot potato with jingle bells.”

Not exactly what you would want to put in your lesson plans for your principal to see…. But it works for me.

Wednesday- Write lesson plans

Our template is long and clunky and ridiculous, so this takes a while. Always make your lesson plans detailed enough to prove to your principal that you know what you are talking about.

They especially like to see “content specific” words. Even if they don’t know what they mean, seeing them in your lesson plans makes them think you know what they mean. Things like dynamics, tempo, quarter notes, etc.

Thursday- Gather materials

This means printing materials, making materials, finding them, etc. I love doing this on Thursday, because our lesson plans are due on Thursday at 5. This means most teachers are just starting to think about their lesson plans, and I have free range of the copier. Friday and Monday, it is packed.

Also, since our lesson plans are due on Thursday, planning to do them on Wednesday ensures that I have them done on time. If I cannot get it done on Wednesday, I have a whole entire other day to work on it.

If I planned to do it on Thursday and couldn’t, then I would be in a bind.

Friday- get everything ready

Pull out the materials, get them all set to go.

 

You will notice I didn’t put anything on Monday. This is because with new lessons, I like to have some time to tweak it and not worry about anything else.

Free Music Lesson: Bizet Scarf Routine



Some general lesson planning tips:

Make a series

If you don’t know what to do, pick an instrument and go with it. Or pick a theme. This does wonders because it limits the amount of lessons available.

For example, you could spend a month on Kidsticks Stations. Or recorder. Or whatever.

You could do a musical month, a keyboard unit, a ballet unit, opera unit, etc.

(Click on these pictures to go to the Amazon page)

Embrace the holidays

Teachers love holidays because they make things different!

You can extend Christmas for a whole month. Same with Thanksgiving and Halloween. Also, Hispanic Heritage month and Black History month are great for lesson planning as well.

If you pencil all of those in, there won’t be many days left!

Here is a Halloween lesson: Free K-2 Music Lesson: Rhythm

Combine grades

This is one of my favorite tricks. I honestly only plan two lessons a week—one for K-2 and one for 3-5. This works well with our schedule and really reduces stress. It is worth it if just for the materials—you only have to get out one set of instraments, or two. Not six.

I think ideally K-1, 2-3, 4-5 would be the best groupings, standards-wise. This does not go well with our schedule at all, but I may try it anyway and see how it goes.

I promise you are not an awful teacher for doing this. I believe it really helps you to do your best because you have time to work out all of the kinks, and you are not constantly trying to think of what your lessons are.

Now, if you have been teaching for 20 years, you probably know your lessons well enough that having 6 different ones isn’t an issue. But for us newbies, it is very helpful.

Have some carryover

When I am really put together, I do this very well. What I mean is that you use a piece of your next lesson in this week’s. Or you use a piece of last week’s lesson in this week’s.

For example, I taught my kids Al Citron a few months ago. We learned the song at the end of one lesson and then we played the passing game the next time. They sang so much better because they knew it better! It was fantastic.

Another time, we learned a circle dance to a Ringshout song as a Musical Explorers lesson. We used it as a warm up the next week.

Sometimes it is tricky or not possible, but if you can do this, it really helps! It allows time for the song or lesson to really sink into their heads.

Lesson Ideas: Creative Movement with Scarves

Find a Curriculum

I cannot sing the praises of the Game Plan Curriculum enough. K-8 is also a really great one. Both are fun, having singing and instrument playing, and get the kids to read music well.

Free K-2 Music Lesson: Animal Form

What is your lesson planning technique? How does it keep you organized? Any tips and tricks? Let us know in the comments!

Happy teaching!

Becca

Tips for Keeping on Top of Lesson Planning. Schedule and tips so that your lesson plans are turned in on time! Help stay organized no matter what you teach: elementary school, middle school, high school, art, music, or pe! Becca's Music Room



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Elementary Music, Organization

Best Tools for Staying Organized as a Teacher

Teachers have a lot of things to do: lesson plans, grading, concert, PTA meetings, field trips, copies…. And that does not even include teaching the kids! Factor in personal life and non-work related commitments and staying organized can be a nightmare. I, personally, have to juggle work, choir, keeping up with the house and dogs, and church commitments on a normal week.

The best way to get it all done? Get organized!

Without organization, there is no way that you could possibly stay on top of everything.

We all know those teachers who are not organized. You know, the ones that are copying things during lunch the day they need it, never remember when staff meetings or PTA meetings are, are always late to duty, etc. Their class’ behavior usually reflects the poor planning.

Don’t be that teacher.

Be the teacher that gets stuff done…. On time! The teacher that doesn’t have to change their lesson plans because the copier is down again. Get organized!

Over the next few months (yes, months, because I didn’t want to completely quit with lesson plan ideas and other posts), I will be doing a series about staying organized as a teacher. I started two weeks ago with a post about my favorite classroom purchase and how it keeps me organized (check it out here). Subscribe in the sidebar or down below to keep up to date on the next posts! Or follow me on Instagram, Twitter, or Facebook, all linked up above this article.

And without further ado… My favorite tools for staying organized as a teacher!

 Best Tools for Staying Organized as a Teacher. Becca's Music Room. Being organized is key to being a succcessful teacher, whether you teach music, elementary school, middle, or high school.

Clipboard with Writing Pad

Best Tools for Staying Organized as a Teacher. Becca's Music Room. Being organized is key to being a succcessful teacher, whether you teach music, elementary school, middle, or high school.Best Tools for Staying Organized as a Teacher. Becca's Music Room. Being organized is key to being a succcessful teacher, whether you teach music, elementary school, middle, or high school.

I love this clipboard.

I picked it up on a whim (because it was cute, of course), and could not be happier with it.

Why do I love this clipboard and think it helps me stay organized?

It has a notepad and a pocket inside of it. So I can clip paper to the front, and I can also write on the inside and keep my pencil or pen in the pocket.

I use this clipboard mostly for meetings and professional development. I put the agenda or ticket for professional development on the front, and then I take notes on the inside. I also use it if I am walking around the school and making list of things I need to do or remember or lesson ideas.

Plus, it is cute and inexpensive.

If you like any of these, click on the picture to go to the Amazon page!

Also: Lesson Ideas: Creative Movement with Scarves

Days of the Week Notepad

Best Tools for Staying Organized as a Teacher. Becca's Music Room. Being organized is key to being a succcessful teacher, whether you teach music, elementary school, middle, or high school.
This is my true, messy, crazy to-do list. You can see the random notes I have written, like lesson ideas and how many copies I need of each paper. This is real life!

This was a gift from my (wonderful!) mentor teacher during student teaching. I have never met anyone who makes as many lists as I do! We were both constantly writing things down, scheduling things, etc. But we mostly wrote on random pieces of paper, which is ineffective. Because after we wrote them, we would lose them.

Anyway, for graduation she got me a notepad with all of the days of the week on it. I. love. It.

I keep it on my desk and make it specifically for my school to-dos.

Every Monday morning, I sit down and write in the things I know I have to do—write lesson plans, attend meetings, etc. Then I go through and add in the other things that I need to do—write emails, make letters, practice the accompaniment for a piece of music, etc. At the end of the day, if I have something I need to do that I have not, I put it on the next day’s list.

This could also work if you have a planner with decent weekly spreads, but I like to keep this on my desk and have only school related things on it, so that it is easier to distinguish what needs to happen at school v. at home.

Also: Free K-2 Lesson: Animal Form

Planner/Calendar

Best Tools for Staying Organized as a Teacher. Becca's Music Room. Being organized is key to being a succcessful teacher, whether you teach music, elementary school, middle, or high school.

And just one planner or calendar. I am the worst about wanting to keep my home and school life in separate places, but resist the urge! Get one planner.

Once you get the planner, write in all of the school things you need to know—grades due, holidays, concerts, etc. Then add in all of the personal things that you have consistently—church obligations, social obligations, etc.

Then keep adding.

Everything.

Keep everything in your planner. I mean it.

Even though you have many different things going on, you only have one life. You should only have on planner.

Because I am obsessive, mine is color coded—I use green for school, purple for choir, red for my husband (dates or days when he works late), blue for my social life (ha!), etc. This way even though everything is together, I can still see what is specifically for what parts of my life.

You don’t have to do that much, if you are not as crazy as I am.

But you do need a planner.

I have this one with a different cover, and I love it! I also use these pens (and only these) for my planner. Clip to purchase!

Also: Questions to Ask Yourself when the Class is Off the Chain



Seating Charts

Best Tools for Staying Organized as a Teacher. Becca's Music Room. Being organized is key to being a succcessful teacher, whether you teach music, elementary school, middle, or high school.

If you see every student in the school like I do, you are probably thinking I am crazy. But really, a few minutes per class at the beginning of the school year makes a world of difference! Especially if you see every student in the school.

Why is it more important if you see all of the students in the school?

Not only do you need it to keep yourself organized, but it will help you learn the names.

I have 750 students. That is a lot of students. If I remember one or two out of a class in the hallway, I am impressed with myself. But if I have a seating chart, then I know all of the names.

Knowing the students’ names changes everything. I promise. Try it.

How do you keep track of all of those kids’ names? Seating Charts!

I keep mine in binders with dividers between each day of the week. I keep a schedule in the front so that I can remember who I have each day, and if I unexpectedly have a sub, then they can find the class as well.

Each day, I take the days’ seating charts and put them on this clipboard. It opens up so that I can store pads of paper for notes or other things inside of it.

Here is a similar clipboard (although cooler because mine does not have a separate pencil place) and binder. Looking for seating charts? Teachers Pay Teachers has a ton of options here.

Also: Ways to Destress After a Crazy Day of Teaching

Rolling Cart

Best Tools for Staying Organized as a Teacher. Becca's Music Room. Being organized is key to being a succcessful teacher, whether you teach music, elementary school, middle, or high school.
A picture of my cart, post a month of traveling nonsense. It’s quite messy.

And I keep my clipboard with my seating charts on my cart!

I seriously love my cart. It holds everything that I need on a daily basis, so that I can find everything I need. I keep my seating charts on the top. I also keep hall passes, nurse passes, a tambourine, pencils, my stuffed owl, and a bunch of stickers on the cart.

And yes, all of those things are very important.

Check out my full review of my cart here.


Need help getting organizational products? Check out my post on Donor’s Choose and see if you can get them donated! Also, check out what lessons I did while on the cart for a month.

Those are my top items to keep my life organized! What do you use to keep organized? I would love to know! Tell me in the comments!

 



Best Tools for Staying Organized as a Teacher. Becca's Music Room. Being organized is key to being a succcessful teacher, whether you teach music, elementary school, middle, or high school.

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Elementary Music, Organization

The Best Classroom Purchase Ever!

As school starts, teachers purchase a lot of things for their classrooms. Some stock up on pencils, pens, crayons, and composition books. Some redecorate their classrooms.

I tried to spend a minimal amount of money. I think it is good practice to save as much money as possible in the classroom. Ten dollars here and five there adds up very quickly, especially after 30 years of teaching– which is how long you will be teaching if you plan on getting your retirement (at least in Georgia).

My rule is: Do not buy consumable things.

I don’t buy pencils. I don’t buy crayons. Because the kids destroy them, and they are gone quickly.

I may one day have different views. But as a new teacher (not getting paid for like two months after I start working), I was not willing to buy anything that would only last one class period.

I bought normal office things that I would have bought no matter where I was working: pencil cups, binders, magazine racks, etc.

I also stumbled across the. Best. Purchase. Ever.

The Best Classroom Purchase Ever! Becca's Music Room. This cart is the answer to my prayers and what keeps me sane. I do not lose things since I bought it. Need more convincing? Read this article to find out more!

A metal rolling cart.

That may not sound very exciting, but trust me, it is the bomb!

You may not have this problem, but I am THE WORST about setting things down and forgetting where I put them. Pencils, seating charts, books with the song we are singing this week, my tambourine… I pick them up, I put them down, and I cannot find them anywhere.

All of the time.

In comes my new rolling cart. It holds everything that I use on a normal day—and it moves! So if I need to stand in the back of the classroom while we watch a video, I can. I can put it in the front while I am talking. I can move it out-of-the-way when we are dancing.

Also: My First Experience with Donor’s Choose

This purchase has literally changed my life.

I do not lose things. When a student needs to go to the nurse, the pass and a pen are on my cart. When I need to double-check a student’s name on the clipboard, it is on my cart. When I need to jingle my tambourine to get the kids’ attention, it is on my cart (and yes, I do that). When I need my animal manipulatives for a fun form lesson, they are on the cart, or popsicle sticks to teach little kids about rhythm. (Check out my Animal Form lesson here and my Popsicle Rhythm lesson here.)

I probably sound ridiculous, but it has really changed my life. I am so much more organized. I do not lose time trying to find things that I set down on the table or on my desk or on the piano or on the… floor?

Granted, you could just use a table. But a rolling cart can move all around the classroom, and that makes life so much easier!

The cart really saved my life during the weeks that I was travelling to classrooms. There was a water leakage situation that resulted in me being spontaneously out of my classroom for a month. The first day, I was able to throw my crayons, paper, tambourines, CD player, and bingo game onto the rolling cart and roll it all around the school. Everything stayed together, I didn’t have a million bags to carry, and when I got to the classrooms, my stuff stayed together. I really do not know what I would have done for the month (!) without my rolling cart.

You can learn about the lesson I taught while traveling here.

So what do I keep on my cart?

It is not always the same. But here are the basic things:

The Best Classroom Purchase Ever! Becca's Music Room. This cart is the answer to my prayers and what keeps me sane. I do not lose things since I bought it. Need more convincing? Read this article to find out more

Top Shelf:

I try to keep this clutter free as possibly (if you had seen it before I picked up the 20 pencils and 10 confiscated toys, you would be laughing at that comment). The most important thing? Seating chart! I use a clipboard with storage underneath for extra information that is pertinent (mostly for subs). I keep seating charts in a binder like this, and clip the ones for the day onto the clipboard.

The Best Classroom Purchase Ever! Becca's Music Room. This cart is the answer to my prayers and what keeps me sane. I do not lose things since I bought it. Need more convincing? Read this article to find out more

Other items include:

  • Gotcha tickets (our school’s PBIS system)
  • Sticky notes for notes on clipboard or other teachers
  • Notepad which I sometimes write my lesson plans on
  • Anything I need for a day (usually Game Plan or this book) This week it is a yellow plastic thing we are using as a button for the game Button You Must Wander.

 

The Best Classroom Purchase Ever! Becca's Music Room. This cart is the answer to my prayers and what keeps me sane. I do not lose things since I bought it. Need more convincing? Read this article to find out more

Second Shelf:

  • Tambourine (used for getting students’ attention)
  • Nurse pass and hall pass
  • Owl Beanie Baby
  • Weird light-up rubber thing I toss to students when they answer questions
  • Pail with pencils, pens, markers, remote, etc.

 

 

The Best Classroom Purchase Ever! Becca's Music Room. This cart is the answer to my prayers and what keeps me sane. I do not lose things since I bought it. Need more convincing? Read this article to find out more

Bottom Shelf:

Still not convinced about the best classroom purchase ever?

Get it, and I promise it will become your favorite classroom purchase as well– unless you enjoy losing things.

Here it is in teal:

And in grey like mine:

 

What is your favorite classroom purchase? Let me know in the comments!

The Best Classroom Purchase Ever! Becca's Music Room. This cart is the answer to my prayers and what keeps me sane. I do not lose things since I bought it. Need more convincing? Read this article to find out more

 


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