Back at the beginning of January, I shared a time lapsed Reel on instagram of me batch planning and the feedback was enormous!  I had so many questions on what is batch planning, how do I do it, and what can people do to get started.  I promised everyone a blog post and then life happened.  Y’all know how that goes.  Batch planning has been a life saver for me and I want to share it with you.  It can transform and streamline your processes so that you can find that better work/life balance.

What is Batch Planning

The short definition (cause no one has time for lengthy stuff) is based on the idea of batch work, or focusing on one task or type of task instead of jumping from one to another.  When you batch plan your lessons, you are in essence, planning an entire unit at a time versus planning all your lessons week by week.  I know it seems like it would take more time, but I promise it doesn’t.  When you get the processes put into place, you’re going to wonder why you never did it before!  It allows me to leave my laptop at school when I leave and rarely work on the weekends.  I feel confident and prepared and am able to spend more time with my fur babies and husband.  Do I have you hooked yet?  

Implementing Batch Planning

So after reading that last bit, you might be thinking, “YES! I’m down for leaving the laptop at work and more time with my family, but I have no idea where to start.”  That’s okay!  It took me years to figure this out and sometimes things happen that make me have to revamp plans, but overall it’s been a game changer.  I’m going to walk you through my steps for batch planning and hopefully by the end of this blog post, you’ll be ready to do it yourself.

Step 1: Create Your Scope and Sequence

Most general education teachers have their own scope and sequences provided by the state or districts they teach in.  Special Education teachers, you guys know that we’re usually left out on this.  The way that I made my scope and sequence is that I looked at what the general education teachers have, and aligned it to what skills I would be teaching.  Most scope and sequences for math start with a unit on place value, so that’s what my scope and sequence starts with too. 

Then, I group all of my state standards into units and plug them in figuring out how many weeks that each one might take.  Some skills take more time than others so if you aren’t a veteran teacher, definitely seek input from a veteran on your campus.  They’ll be able to help you with that knowledge.  Nicole from Adaptation Station also has a great blog post on creating a scope and sequence.  Check it out here.

Step 2: Choose a subject and unit to plan

The next step is to choose a subject and unit to plan.  You’re going to want to make sure that you start ahead of time so that you aren’t scrambling to make the unit come together the week before you need it.  The other reason I love batch planning is because I select my unit assessment first.  It used to drive me crazy when administrators would say “Begin with the end in mind.”  But it makes so much more sense to start planning knowing what the students need to accomplish when you finish teaching the unit.

A photo of a planner and scope and sequence with text that says batch planning your lessons.  Take back ownership of your work/life balance with this time management strategy.

Step 3. Plan everything out day by day through the end of the unit.

Next you’re going to start planning the unit.  Plan each day through the end of the unit.  I like to go backwards from the unit assessment to the first day. It makes sure that I accomplish what I need to by the day I want to give the unit assessment.  Does that always happen?  No.  Sometimes we need remedial lessons or reteaching because it isn’t clicking. It’s so much easier to insert a lesson into the middle of a batch planned unit then get stuck in an endless loop of not being sure where to go next.

My school requires us to write learning objectives and have our lessons aligned to standards and demonstrate that in our plans.  When I am batch planning, I include these components as well.  I try to think of every little thing I’m going to need including links/materials so that when I’m ready for the next step, it goes super smoothly.

Step 4: Prep the ENTIRE unit.

Say what!? I know this can be the most time consuming part of this process.  This is why I said don’t try to start this the week before your unit is starting.  It can mean endless amounts of time with the copier and laminator, but it’s worth it in the end.  In this day of virtual learning with the covid pandemic, it also means endless amounts of clicking in your learning management system. 

If you use Schoology, I highly recommend creating what I call my “sandbox” course.  I added a course to my listing that literally is titled “Sandbox”.  Our school has required all teachers to set up folders for each week. In side that, there is a a folder for each day inside of it.  I set up the whole unit in this manner within my sandbox with each daily folder being scheduled to publish the day of.  On Sunday’s it is just a simple matter of copying the folder into the correct courses and boom!  Ready to go.

Additional Tips

I used a teacher work day to get my initial units planned and set up.  Once I did this, it was easy for me to spend time planning the next units during my prep time.  I usually try to do a unit a week so that I’m basically always ready to go way in advance.  It might seem complex, but once you get going, it is a game changer for productivity and work/life balance.

I love helping teachers get this process set up. If you have any questions don’t hesitate to reach out and ask questions.  If you have implemented this, I would love to hear your tips and tricks in the comments below.

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