I find that regular lesson plan books just don’t work for me. Almost every year that I taught preschool, I would re-invent the wheel and come up with a new (flawed) system. Last year I came up with one that – with continued tweaking – I really like.
I am terrible at paperwork. When the creative juices flow, I don’t have time to stop and write down the details. That’s great for the day-to-day work, not so great when you realize that you’re supposed to be keeping track of what you’ve done.
Here is my system: Since I am a big fan of the Reggio Emilia Project Approach, I do not sit down before the week begins and plan what we’ll do for each day. I plan for the current day, and am willing to make changes if something wonderful has come up. (For example, we might be learning how to make paper but a child brings in an amazing collection of shells. If the children want to learn about shells that day, I am ready to switch gears. The paper can wait.) This system allows me to switch gears and not have to re-write anything.
I have a daily form that takes up the whole page. Early in the morning – before breakfast- I sit down with the few children that have gathered and we begin to fill it out. I write down what we need to talk about that morning, leaving space in case something interesting comes in.
At morning group time, we talk about our choices for centers, and I fill in what each choice will be. This is helpful to my aide, as she can check the form as she dismisses children and asks them where they would like to start their day. At the end of the day I fill in the form with any details or notes.
The form does not list areas that are always available – blocks, books, writing table, housekeeping, I-Spy table, items off shelves, etc. Those are available everyday, and if we are making a specific change to one of those areas to go with our current topic, I make a note of it.
The backside of the form is pre-programmed with a table that has the names of all the children. That is the form I use to make daily observations that I share in an end-of-the-week e-mail to the child’s parents. Having it be on the backside of the day is helpful to keep track of children’s development through the year. (I used to struggle with the easiest way to make observations, too. This one is great.)
I don’t have a picture of it, but for each topic that we study, I have a page that includes places to record objectives, activities, songs/books, vocabulary, and any other necessary notes.
I have recently added a page that I keep hanging in the teacher area that has a place to check off what areas of the Nebraska Early Learning Guidelines I have made plans for that week. We won’t hit them all every day, but this helps me make sure I’m remembering to do number work. (I tend to slack off when it comes to numbers.)