25+ Secrets to Effective New Teacher Planning and Preparation

people sitting on chairs inside the room

New teacher planning is daunting! I sat down and looked at all the things that would’ve helped me in my first year and wrote them out for you!

New teacher planning takes time but you'll find a good groove.

Are you a new teacher looking to make a lasting impact in the classroom? Unlocking the secrets to effective new teacher planning and preparation is the key to success in the world of education. As a new teacher, the daunting task of creating lesson plans, organizing materials, and managing time can feel overwhelming.

From setting clear objectives to utilizing technology and collaboration, we will explore practical tips and proven methods to help you navigate the complexities of lesson planning, engage your students, and create an even classroom environment that fosters learning and growth.

So, whether you are embarking on your first year of teaching or seeking to enhance your planning skills, join us as we unlock the secrets to effective new teacher planning and preparation.

What are the 5 Phases of New Teachers?

The five phases of new teachers are anticipation, survival, disillusionment, rejuvenation, and reflection. The school year is cyclical and many of us cycle through these emotions in our first few years. It’s completely normal and it usually gets easier.

There are so many strategies out there that promise to perfect your teaching strategies or classroom management, but teachers can be exhausting and emotionally draining.

What do first year teachers struggle with?

New teacher planning: First year teachers often struggle with lesson planning and time management. If you are in a heavy content area like English or Math, there is little down time and schedules are always busy. If you’re a teacher in a lower socio-economic area, you might find yourself covering for teachers fairly regularly due to staffing shortages. That leaves little time to plan. Special Education teachers have unending paperwork.

Once you have established some lesson plans, decided on a classroom management style, and find a groove, it gets easier.

What every first year teacher should know?

  1. Lesson planning gets easier.
  2. It’s normal to feel overwhelmed and responsible for everything.
  3. The first year is always the hardest, so try to lean on your colleagues for support.
  4. If you’re the only subject specific teacher at your school, then look at websites like Teachers Pay Teachers, or other teaching websites for support in your content area.
  5. Also, classroom management gets easier!

Why do so many new teachers quit?

New teacher planning may seem never-ending but you must set boundaries for your own health.

Teachers quit because teachers need support in ways other career professionals do not. Our job is emotionally, mentally, and physically taxing. We must rely on our teams and our administration for support.

New teachers need time to prepare together, build trust in their teams, learn from veteran teachers. This is important because every school is different and teachers need time to adapt to their environment.

In addition, teaching can be contentious. We see over 100 students each day and we need support dealing with parents and students.

Finally, many educators make a lot less than their business counterparts. In many cases, it is more cost effective to leave teaching for a less stressful career.

Who Should Support You as a Beginning Teacher?

If you’re at the right school, the entire school will support you.

  1. Your content area team is a great source of support. Pick one teacher you feel the most comfortable with and befriend them. There’s probably a Google Drive or plethora of lesson plans on someone’s computer to help you get started.
  2. The administration team provides direction regarding procedures and reviews.
  3. The front office is often in charge of payroll and scheduling, so make sure you are gracious when you need support!
  4. Be kind your janitorial and maintenance staff are because they fix things for you!

The Importance of Effective New Teacher Planning and Preparation

Effective planning and preparation are essential for new teachers to provide quality education and ensure student success. One of the key benefits of effective planning is that it helps teachers stay organized and focused.

Another important aspect of effective planning is that it enables teachers to differentiate their instruction. Every student is unique, with different learning styles, abilities, and needs.

This may involve incorporating different instructional strategies, providing additional support for struggling learners, or challenging advanced students with extension activities.

Understanding the Purpose of New Teacher Planning and Preparation

Before diving into the nitty-gritty of planning and preparation, it is important to have teachers understand the purpose behind these activities. Planning is about envisioning the desired outcome and designing a roadmap to achieve it. The purpose of planning is to ensure that every minute spent in the classroom is purposeful, meaningful, and aligned with the intended learning outcomes.

Preparation, on the other hand, involves gathering the necessary resources, materials, and tools to support the planned instruction. This includes creating or selecting appropriate instructional materials, organizing manipulatives and props, and familiarizing oneself with the content and pedagogical strategies that will be used during the lesson.

Preparation is about equipping oneself with the knowledge, skills, and resources needed to deliver effective instruction and engage students in meaningful learning experiences.

Why New Teacher Planning Is Important for Classroom Management

New teacher planning means sorting out your classroom management style. It will happen.

Lesson planning is important for classroom management because when lessons are prepared in consideration of learning objectives, interests, and student abilities, classroom management is a non-issue. Students are less disruptive and fidgety when they are engaged.

Focused Teacher Lesson Planners

I don’t own a teacher planner. However, I used them in my first few years as a teacher because it made lesson planning clearer. Planning lessons was easier when I had something physical to look at. I needed to see weekly activities in print. I’ve also tried digital planners. I think they are useful if you use them, especially in your first few years. I still have my first teacher planner!

Key Elements of Effective New Teacher Planning and Preparation

There is a fairly straightforward way to creating lesson plans. Remember – Straightforward does not mean easy. This is a process you will internalize after lots of practice.

5 Steps in The New Teacher Planning Process:

  1. Establish student learning outcomes first. How will students succeed in the lesson? Objectives specify what students should know, understand, and be able to do by the end of a lesson or unit. When setting objectives, it is important to make them specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and time-bound (SMART). This ensures that the objectives are clear, achievable, and aligned with the desired learning outcomes.
    Consider your students’ prior knowledge: Before introducing new content, it is important to assess your students’ prior knowledge and build upon it. Consider what your students already know and understand about the topic and use this information to inform your instruction.
  2. Collect the sources and materials for the lesson. When planning, consider the types of assessments that will be used to measure students’ progress and understanding. These may include formative assessments such as quizzes, observations, and class discussions, as well as summative assessments like tests, projects, and presentations.
  3. List the procedures for the lesson. As you list out the steps & procedures for the lesson, consider how you may need to adapt the lesson for all learners. You want to be able to teach to all students.
    Differentiate instruction: Consider instructional design and plan for differentiation to meet the diverse needs of your students. Consider the various learning styles, abilities, and interests of your students and incorporate strategies that cater to these differences. This may involve speaking with parents, offering extension activities, or using flexible grouping strategies. You may want to incorporate communication logs for your class. I used them as a new teacher and they helped a lot!
  4. Choose the learning activities, lecture, discussion, games, etc. When designing activities, consider the interests, abilities, and learning styles of your students. Incorporate a variety of instructional strategies such as hands-on experiments, group discussions, multimedia presentations, and real-world applications.
    Remember to make the activities interactive, collaborative, and relevant to students’ lives to enhance their engagement and motivation.
  5. After you complete the lesson, reflect and make notes of any changes or tweaks necessary. Assessments provide students with opportunities to test and practice the knowledge and skills articulated by their learning goals and to provide feedback on progress. Use the note pages in your teacher planner to keep track of changes for next year.

New Teacher Planning Creates More Student Success

New teacher planning means student success. When you plan well, your students succeed.

Don’t over-complicate the learning objective. When planning lessons, keep the main learning activity straightforward.

I’ve taught almost every age group at this point. Pre k students are not that different from elementary, middle school or high school students. Keep the learning targets attainable. Ensure students know how to measure success.

Utilizing Technology Effectively for New Teacher Planning

Incorporating technology tools into your planning and instruction can help create engaging, interactive, and personalized learning experiences for your students. Check out your school’s app library to see what they have available. Tip: try not to overuse any one app.

New Teacher Planning: Utilizing Resources and Materials Effectively

As a new teacher, it is important to familiarize yourself with the resources available to you and understand how to use them effectively. Here are some tips to help you utilize resources and materials effectively:

  1. Explore textbooks and curriculum materials: Take the time to thoroughly review the textbooks and curriculum materials provided by your school or district before the school year begins, if possible. Familiarize yourself with the content, structure, and organization of these resources.
  2. Tap into library resources: The library can be a treasure trove of resources for teachers. Take advantage of the books, magazines, and other materials available in the library. Incorporate reading materials, research projects, and access to other library resources into your lessons to provide additional content and support.
  3. Engage with online resources: The internet provides a vast array of educational resources that can enhance your instruction. Explore educational websites, online databases, and digital libraries for relevant articles, videos, simulations, and interactive learning activities. Use these resources to supplement your lessons, provide further explanations, or offer additional practice opportunities for your students.
  4. Leverage community resources: Look beyond the walls of your classroom and tap into the resources available in your community. This may include guest speakers, field trips, community organizations, or local businesses. Incorporate these resources into your lessons to provide real-world connections, practical examples, and opportunities for students to apply their learning in meaningful contexts.
  5. Create your own materials: The first year, teachers want to create the perfect lesson plan for every day, but you also don’t have to reinvent the wheel. See what you have available. Then, go through and choose a few things to make.
    This could be in the form of worksheets, graphic organizers, manipulatives, or other hands-on resources. Customize these materials to meet the specific needs of your students and align them with your lesson objectives. But, please DON’T BURN YOURSELF OUT THE FIRST SCHOOL YEAR.

New Teacher Planning: Designing an Inclusive Classroom

Every student deserves a quality education. Take time to get to know your students and when preparing for your classes, take time to ensure your classroom is inclusive. Students with glasses may need to sit near the front of the class. Students who wiggle may need a fidget toy or a signal to let you know they need to move.

Incorporating Differentiation and Assessment in New Teacher Planning

New teacher planning should burn you out. Ask mentors for support.

Differentiation in assessment may look different for some students. Here are some tips for planning assessments:

  1. Know your students: Take the time to get to know your students as individuals. Understand their strengths, weaknesses, interests, and learning styles. This will help you tailor your instruction and provide appropriate support and challenges for each student.
  2. Use flexible grouping: Group students based on their needs, abilities, or interests. This allows you to provide targeted instruction and support to specific groups of students. Consider using different grouping strategies such as whole-class, small group, pairs, or individual work to meet the diverse needs of your students.
  3. Offer choice: Provide students with choices in how they demonstrate their understanding or complete assignments. This allows students to showcase their strengths and interests while still meeting the learning objectives. For example, instead of assigning a traditional written essay, give students the option to create a video, design a poster, or give a presentation.
  4. Provide scaffolds: Offer support to students who may be struggling with the content or skills. This may involve providing additional examples, breaking down complex tasks into smaller steps, or offering graphic organizers or other visual aids. The goal is to provide the necessary support to help students achieve success.
  5. Offer extension activities: Challenge advanced students with extension activities that go beyond the basic requirements. This may involve providing additional readings, research projects, or open-ended assignments that allow students to explore the topic in greater depth. The goal is to provide opportunities for students to further develop their knowledge and skills.

When it comes to assessment, consider using a variety of assessment methods to gauge students’ understanding and progress. This may include formal assessments such as tests, quizzes, or projects, as well as informal assessments like observations, class discussions, or self-reflections.

Use the results of these assessments to inform your instruction, provide feedback to students, and make any necessary adjustments to your lesson plans.

Time Management Strategies for New Teacher Planning

Find some good new teacher planning strategies that work for you.
Photo by Valentin Antonucci on Pexels.com

Time management is a crucial skill for new teachers. With so many responsibilities and tasks to juggle, it is important to prioritize, plan, and organize your time effectively. Here are some time management strategies to help you stay on top of your workload:

1. Set priorities: Identify your most important tasks and prioritize them. Write them in your teacher planner. Focus on the tasks that have the greatest impact on student learning or require immediate attention. This will help you allocate your time and energy efficiently.

2. Create a schedule: Develop a daily or weekly schedule that outlines your teaching responsibilities, planning time, meetings, and other commitments. Stick to this schedule as much as possible, but also allow for flexibility and adjustments when needed.

3. Break tasks into smaller steps: Large tasks can feel overwhelming, so break them down into smaller, manageable steps. This will make it easier to tackle the tasks and track your progress.

4. Use a teacher planner or digital tools: Find a planning system that works for you, whether it’s a physical planner, a digital calendar, or task management software. Use a planner or this tool to record deadlines, plan your lessons, and keep track of your to-do list.

5. Avoid multitasking: YOU WILL LITERALLY GET PULLED IN A MILLION DIRECTIONS. However, multitasking can actually decrease productivity and lead to errors. Instead, focus on one task at a time and give it your full attention. This will help you complete tasks more effectively and efficiently.

6. Delegate and collaborate: Don’t be afraid to ask for help or collaborate with colleagues. Share the workload by dividing tasks or seeking input and advice from more experienced teachers. This can save you time and provide valuable insights and support. If possible, meet weekly to plan together. It will help you to check-in with another teacher regularly.

7. Take care of yourself: Remember to prioritize self-care and avoid burnout. Take breaks, exercise, get enough sleep, and engage in activities that help you relax and recharge. When you take care of yourself, you will have more energy and focus to devote to your teaching responsibilities.

Collaborative New Teacher Planning and Sharing Best Practices

Collaborative planning and sharing best practices can greatly enhance your teaching practice. By working with colleagues, you can tap into their expertise, gain new insights, and benefit from their experiences. Here are some ways to engage in collaborative planning and share best practices:

  1. Join a professional learning community: Seek out opportunities to connect with other educators in your school or district. Join a professional learning community or participate in grade-level or department meetings. These forums provide a platform for sharing ideas, discussing challenges, and collaborating on lesson planning and instructional strategies.
  2. Attend professional development workshops and conferences: Take advantage of professional development opportunities offered by your school, district, or professional organizations. Attend workshops, conferences, or webinars that focus on teaching best practices, curriculum updates, or instructional technologies. These events allow you to learn from experts in the field and network with fellow educators.
  3. Collaborate with colleagues: Work with your colleagues to plan lessons, share resources, and co-teach if possible. Collaborative planning allows you to benefit from the expertise and ideas of others, while co-teaching provides an opportunity to observe and learn from each other’s teaching styles.

Conclusion: The Importance of New Teacher Planning

New teacher planning takes time but don't give up!

Every teacher dreams of the perfect classroom. There are many tips to keeping your curriculum organized and your lesson plan fun & engaging, all while providing equitable access to your students.

Use a teacher planner or digital planning pages to help keep you organized. Use planning pages to write out your lesson plan, and use note pages to reflect on lessons.

Keep the process of learning standards straightforward but engaging. Try not to plan during class time but keep an alternate lesson in the wings in case you need one or something doesn’t work. Lesson plan with your team. Find a mentor teacher at your school for support. Try to plan weekly.

The reality is we are often pulled in a million directions and the desire for perfection can lead to burnout. Prioritize your well being as a new teacher. Keep focused on your priorities and try to filter out the noise. You will have a great first day and successful school year!


I am an educator with almost 15 years of experience teaching in Japan, Hawaii, and in Los Angeles. My goal is to change education and the way we view literacy instruction in America.

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