I noticed something unusual recently: I was a full two weeks ahead in preparing my classes.
I should say very unusual. Even that might not be strong enough. In nearly 20 years of teaching high school I can’t actually remember ever having two full weeks of lessons completely planned ahead of time.
I always have a plan that includes what I expect to teach on certain days, and for courses I’ve taught before I have materials to draw on to build those lessons when the time comes. But that time rarely comes two weeks in advance. There are too many ways a rigid plan can be disrupted: A group that needs an extra day with an important concept; an unexpected administrative interruption; a fire drill that ruins a three-lesson flow. It usually just doesn’t make sense to try to plan in detail so far ahead of time.
Yet I’m doing it this year. It’s a consequence of having to explicitly prepare more in advance of remote teaching, as well as the block schedule we adopted to better serve the uncertainties of hybrid learning. As a result, I’m teaching fewer, but longer, classes and I have to prepare much more material ahead of time for them.
It’s taken me a while to figure out how to design a remote class that works for me and my students, but now that I’ve started to get the hang of it I find I’m able to plan detailed lessons further ahead than I have in the past. Which is a bit of a surprise, given than I started the year having virtually no idea how to plan a remote lesson. But being this far ahead in planning is a nice feeling, and it’s something I hope to bring back to normal schooling someday. At least until the first fire drill.