Using Goal Setting to Plan the Upcoming School Year

In 10 years, I’ve learned that long-term planning is the #1 way to manage the crazy stress and overwhelming to-do list teachers face. I’m sharing my process for planning below. If you are reading this as a new teacher, I cannot stress enough the need to develop a system for organizing your long-term goals and curriculum. If you are a fellow veteran, I’d love to hear your process. Either way, join the discussion in the comment section below!

Start with Goals and the Big Picture by Quarter, Trimester, or Semester: For each grading period, include required literature, major projects, and other must-do items. Tip: Add district and state assessments also! Here’s an example:

  • Quarter 1:
    • Summer Reading
    • Short Story Unit (list specific stories here)
    • Vocabulary: lessons 1-5
    • Grammar: Verbs- transitive, intransitive, linking, basic sentence patterns (lessons 1-5)
    • Writing: Intro to MLA and 5 paragraph essay + 1 process essay
  • Quarter 2:
    • To Kill a Mockingbird
    • Vocabulary: lessons 6-10
    • Grammar: Parts of Speech
    • Writing: 2 process essays
    • Video Project
  • Quarter 3:
    • The Odyssey
    • Nonfiction Unit (list specific selections here)
    • Vocabulary: lessons 11-15
    • Grammar: Phrases and Clauses
    • Writing: Research paper
  • Quarter 4:
    • Poetry Unit (list specific poems here)
    • Vocabulary: lessons 16-20
    • Grammar: Sentence types
    • Writing: Infographic project

Move to a Broad Weekly View: This step is primarily meant to double-check that you have enough time to fit everything from step one. For example:

  • Quarter 1:
    • Week 1: Summer Reading (with vocab lesson 1 and grammar lesson 1)
    • Week 2: Intro to MLA and 5 paragraph essay: Writing Architect (with vocab lesson 2 and grammar lesson 2)
    • Week 3: Elements of Short Story + “Short Story 1” (with vocab lesson 3 and grammar lesson 3)
    • Week 4-5: Freytag’s Pyramid + “Short Story 2 and 3” (with vocab lesson 4 and grammar lesson 4)
    • Week 6-7: Conflict and Characterization + “Short Story 4 and 5” (with vocab lesson 5 and grammar lesson 5)
    • Week 8-9: “Final Short Story” + Essay (incorporate vocab and grammar from the quarter)

Pencil in a Monthly Calendar: You can buy one or there are many free options if you do a quick Google search. I love technology, but for some reason, it makes it feel much less overwhelming to use a pencil on a printed calendar. You can just as quickly type into the calendar template.

Work with Lesson Plans Weekly: I have a couple of co-workers who stick to the long-term plan precisely as written, but I usually need to reassess weekly based on formative assessments and flukes in school schedules. When I have done the long-term planning outlined above, my weekly lesson plans only take a fraction of the time. I feel I’m going to meet my benchmarks without forgetting any of the many strands of my class!

Are you drowning in weekly lesson plans? You are not alone! Do you have ideas for managing long-term and short-term plans? We’d love to hear from everyone in the comment section below!


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