My Unit Planning Process: Take 3

One of my favorite bloggers on Teach For Us (a blogging platform for Teach for America teachers and alumni), Wess, wrote: “Why don’t we see any exemplars before they’re exemplary?”. I agree. I teach among amazing teachers, but it’s difficult to see how they got to where they are. It took nine months for me to even “get” my school’s student culture, just because it is so comprehensive and rooted in a foundation that took years to build, and even then, I have a lot more to learn.

My own commitment, then, is to try to document my process of growing as a teacher and leader. One of the reasons I post Google Docs, for example, is so that the documents will always reflect real-time updates. Therefore, every once in a while, I’ll engage in an exhaustive review of how I spend my time and what decisions I’m making when I’m planning or executing a lesson, in the hopes that I can help others.

September 4, 2011 – 12:14 PM
I’m sitting in my hotel room in Austin, TX. I have maybe 15 minutes before I’m headed out for lunch, so I’ll do what I can to prepare myself for planning.

I’ve already started my unit plan for my Chemistry unit, but I know there’s a lot of work to do. The biggest questions on my mind are:
– How do I engage every student in this inquiry based way of learning? and
– How do I make sure I’ve planned purposefully to allow for enough time for my students to learn everything they need to learn in time for the State End of Year assessment? After all, my long term plan is already 23 days over the number of days I actually have available.

Therefore, I think it’s of paramount importance that I sketch out a unit plan that includes what I’ll accomplish each day with buffer room. I know that environment determines success, so I’m changing my unit planning templates to include a calendar that forces me to think about my pacing for that unit.

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Done.