Planning for your classes is challenging for anyone–but especially for multiple prep teachers. To make the most of your planning avoid these four mistakes.

Multiple Prep Teacher Mistake #1: Planning Each Class Separately

The first mistake that multiple prep teachers make is planning each class separately. This can lead to having a ton of assignments or projects due on the same day or starting units all on the same day. Without even realizing it.

To avoid this mistake, when planning, look at all your classes. It helps to have a calendar handy where you write due dates and unit lengths. Use a format that helps you see what is happening in all your classes at once. Check out these resources to get started.

Multiple Prep Teacher Mistake #2: Second Guessing Ideas

The second mistake that multiple prep teachers make is second-guessing their ideas. This happens when you have an initial idea, but wonder if there is something better out there. You can then spend so much time second-guessing and end up wasting your planning period (or night or weekend).

Trust your gut and go with your first idea. It may not be the best idea, but you won’t know until you try it out. Spending a lot of time looking at what other people are doing will not improve the lesson. If anything, it will make put you behind because you lost out on your prep time.

Multiple Prep Teacher Mistake #3: Underestimating the Time It Takes to Do Something

The third mistake that multiple prep teachers make is underestimating the time it takes to do a task. It’s easy to “guess” the time it takes to do something and be completely wrong. Which can lead to chaos when other teachers need to use the copy machine before first period.

To avoid this mistake, you should plan for the unexpected and factor in some buffer time. You can also time yourself as you plan and prep to get a better idea of how long it takes to do a task.

Multiple Prep Teacher Mistake #4: Not Reusing Lesson Plans

The fourth mistake that multiple prep teachers make is failing to recycle and reuse lesson plans, learning activities, or protocols from one class to the next. It’s easy to get sucked into the idea of finding the “best” way of teaching something. So, instead of using an activity or protocol that you know engages your students, you look for something new.

Not only do students like it when you reuse a protocol/routine (predictability), it saves you a ton of time as well. Next time you are putting together a lab or “messy” activity where students need to use supplies plan it so all of your classes are using the materials. No need to completely transform your class from one period to the next–simply tidy up.

In Summary

Being a multiple prep teacher is challenging, and it is easy to make mistakes. Yet, by avoiding these four mistakes, you can make your job more manageable. Planning for all classes, trusting your ideas, factoring in buffer time, and reusing proven protocols and routines can make all the difference. By avoiding these mistakes, you as a multiple prep teacher can have a more organized and fulfilling teaching experience.

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 You know when you’re like right in the middle of a situation, you don’t really see like the issues that are happening. So if you are dating someone who is totally wrong for you, typically like everyone around you can see what mistakes you’re making or that it’s a really bad idea, but it’s really hard for you to see that.

I felt like I was in that mode for several years while I was a multiple prep teacher because I just had no idea what was going on. So today I am coming clean and I am letting you know the four mistakes that I myself made over and over again as a multiple prep teacher. And unfortunately, it’s one that I see others making too.

Welcome to the Secondary Teacher Podcast. The podcast for middle and high school teachers juggling multiple preps to get the strategies to reduce overwhelm so that you don’t have to choose between being an effective teacher and prioritizing important relationships. I’m your host, Khristen Massic at 10 year high school engineering teacher, former middle school assistant principal and teacher coach.

Every week we will discuss strategies, systems, and time-saving tips to help you not only survive but thrive as a multiple prep teacher. In my 10 years of teaching, I had ranges of the amount of preps that I was teaching, but more likely than not, I usually had four plus.

So I had like four to nine preps every single year. And there are just some things that I was doing because, no. Actually like told me how to prepare or teach multiple preps. That never was anything that was like taught. So I’m just going to dive into these four mistakes that hopefully you are not making.

But if you are, we’re going to talk about some ways to help you not make those mistakes. So  the first one is planning each class separately. And when I’m saying that is that when I would be looking at what I would be doing for the next week, I would look at one class period at a time, or one like class content area.

At a time, and I would look at them separately, and then I’d plan everything out for that particular class without really paying attention to what was happening in my other classes. So more likely than not, I ended up with a ton of assignments or projects due on the same day, or I wasn’t really paying attention to what I was doing, and I was like starting units.

All on the same day. And so I had a ton of prep work for particular days,  and I did it on myself. And it was  mainly because I was just looking at those classes with without, or I guess with blinders on. So I wasn’t looking at what else was happening in my other classes. So you may have already heard it embedded in there, but when you are planning for your d.

Classes, whether you do it on like a term basis, whether you’re looking at like week by week, make sure that you are doing it in a way that you can see what is happening in all of your other classes. So whatever format you use to plan, just make sure that you have an idea of what else is going on in all of your different.

To make your life easier. Okay. My second mistake that I would make all the time is second guessing my ideas, and it was like the ideas of how do I teach this concept or this standard. and I would normally have like an initial idea, but then I would wonder, you know, was there something better out there?

Should I go to Pinterest? Should I go online? There’s some website, is there, there’s something else. There’s probably a better way to teach it. And the reason that this was a problem is because I spent so much time second-guessing. Because once you have, maybe you can do that for one class, but then you start going down the rabbit.

And now you have several preps to do that for your planning period or whatever time you are planning on planning is just gone out the window because you are not being able to make decisions and quickly move from one thing to another. So I will say this, when you are coming up with ideas, it, whatever you come up with, your first idea is probably a great idea.

It may not be. Best idea, but you won’t know that until you try it out. So to spend a lot of time looking at what other people are doing will not actually improve your lesson. If anything, it will make you more behind because you lost out on that prep time, and so now you are stressed to get ready for that lesson.

So don’t second guess your ideas. With your first idea and just run with it because it is probably a great idea. Trust your gut and then you can make improvements along the way. My third mistake was underestimating the time that it takes to do something. . So there are many times, like even something simple as photocopies.

So Jared was telling me a story, or I guess an instance of last week. And so we just barely came back after the break and we didn’t have like a teacher prep day before the students came back. So teachers and students came back the same day and Jared was able to get to the school a little bit earlier than the rest of the faculty and was able to make copies.

But as he. in there to try to make copies. There was teacher after teacher coming in, they needed to print things. We started the new semester also on that same day, so it was, he said it was like a madhouse. It was crazy. And his teacher bestie had actually come in the day before when no one was there, so wasn’t contracted to be there.

So he made his con. Or his copies and was totally good. But I think that’s the biggest thing is that we underestimate how long it will take some time to do something. And then also some issues that might arise, like copy machine. You could have other teachers that are needing to use that. And I know that is like something super simple, but I’m sure you can relate to a time where you needed copies, but somebody else was using copy machine or if you have like a copy center, they weren’t able to get back to you soon enough.

So you really want to figure out with this one actually how long it takes something. And so this does take some time to actually like time, how long it takes you to do something. And once you get into the rhythm of things, A lot of times you will be able to shorten the amount of time.

So when you are planning and you’re prepping when you’re first starting out, it does take you a lot longer cuz you’re not really sure how to do it. And then especially if you’re like second-guessing your ideas, you’re bouncing all over the place.

But, once you have done it several times and you actually like as simple as set a timer on your phone or your watch or your computer, and then record how long it is taking you to do something for an entire week, so that when you are needing to do those same tasks the following week, you have a better idea of how long it will actually take you, not just an underestimation, and then you end up running out.

My fourth mistake was not reusing lesson plans across classes. And I’m not just talking about like the lesson plan, like the template or the format, but actually like what I was doing in the class. So for example, one of my favorite protocols was the gallery walk. And so I would have students do something as a group and then they would make a poster.

About it, and then we’d slap ’em on the walls and then they would walk around and they would comment on it. And I really liked using that, but I didn’t use it enough. So I would do it like in first period when I probably could have done the exact same thing in second period. Even though it was a different class, I could have even done it on the same day to save me prep time.

I would already have those big poster board sheets like in my room with the markers. They were out ready to go. Then I wouldn’t have even had to think about like students cleaning things up between those class periods in my short little like passing time. So that. One thing that I didn’t do enough of.

The other thing is, is not, besides using it like from class to class, like in the same day. So kind of like that idea of like batching what you’re doing. So you’re using like that same protocol. I never used them over and over again. So like I used the gallery walk and I thought it was, it was one of my favorites.

I really enjoyed it. The students really enjoyed it, but I would do it. Once a semester when in reality I could have been doing something like that frequently, like every single week, I would’ve gotten better at the protocol. The students would’ve gotten better at the protocol, and it would’ve saved me a ton of time in a whole.

Bunch of different ways of planning of like explaining it to students, of having them clean up. Another example of a protocol that could be used or reused over and over again is the making a quiz protocol. So if you are going to be doing any sort of direct instruction, whether it’s five minutes or 20 minutes, you can actually have your students come up with an idea or a question that they would think that it would be the most important.

Thing that you discussed during that set amount of time. Then they turn to their neighbor and they ask them the question, they get the answer. Then they kind of consult with one another to create a quiz, and then they also then group up with a couple of other students and have. Preview those questions.

They say whether or not they feel like they’re important, they, they go over the answers and whether or not they can get the answers and then, Put together that quiz. They can even share it with another group and give them the quiz. You can also use this as a time to then have a whole class discussion.

Now, we’ve discussed in small groups, in partners what we feel like are the most important parts or aspects to remember. Of what was just discussed on that topic, and now we’re sharing it out with everyone and we’re going back and forth, and you could even create a quiz for the next day based on those questions.

You could literally do this over and over and over again. And the thing is, is that sometimes that we worry about, About whether or not it’s going to be exciting. And I think that’s the other part of like my mistake is like always thinking that things had to be like super fresh, but in reality they just want something that is going to be predictable.

Like that’s something that actually makes them comfortable in your class because they know what to expect. They know that they’re going to be doing this in your class every single day, and it kind of gives them. A sense of like safety because like they know what’s coming and so don’t shy away from using a protocol like that.

in all of your classes, and you are changing it up when it comes to your content and what you’re discussing and how you’re having students interact with it. But you are saving yourself a ton of time because you’re like, Hey, I’m going to use this here and this here and this here, and then I’m going to do the exact same thing in second period, third period, fourth period, and so on and so forth.

So I hope. We’re able to get some ideas of how to fix some of these mistakes, and I will say that I know that they are mine personally, but from the admin position, I’ve also seen this happen a lot in other classes that I have been in and with discussions and conversations with other teachers. So I’m not alone in these mistakes.

So if you are making these mistakes as well, Also know that you are not alone. So here are those mistakes and how you can remedy them. First is planning each class separately, and to remedy that you’re going to be planning all of your classes at the same time, or at least paying attention to what’s happening in all those classes.

The second one is second guessing at your ideas. When you get that first idea, just run. You’ve gotta test it out on your students to see if it’s going to work. The third is underestimating the time it takes to do something. So time out, how long it takes to do things in one week, and then you can be able to better plan your time for the other weeks.

And then fourth, not reusing lesson plans across classes. So simplify where you. It is totally okay to use one protocol or one activity or something in class after class, after class, after class. Remember, you are switching up the content, but the protocol and the structure can stay the same. If this episode was helpful to you, it could be for others to help spread the word about this podcast.

Take a screenshot of this. Added to your Instagram stories and tag me at Kristen Maik, K H R I S T E N M A S S I C. Until next week. 

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