Special Education may pretty much be synonymous with paperwork. Oh the paperwork. That godawful paperwork. Not only do we get the special privilege of doing IEPs, transition plans, progress reports, reevaluations, behavior plans, transition plans, extended school year plans – we still have to do all of that “typical” teacher paperwork like lesson plans and curriculum maps. This is not why you went into teaching. Unless you are a masochist who loves paperwork. A lot of this paperwork we need to suck up and just do but when it comes to lesson planning and curriculum maps I like to take a different approach. I want to make this paperwork work for me. I want this paperwork to be useful and beneficial. I want this paperwork to help me make my day run more smoothly. This will take a little creativity and maybe a little bit of negotiations with your principal, but it will be well worth it.
What is a curriculum map?
Curriculum mapping is a process of recording and organizing what content is taught over an extended period of time. It provides an overview of when concepts are taught.
I love curriculum maps. Maybe I have drank the kool-aide but curriculum maps immensely relieve my trying-to-fit-it-all-in anxiety. Our IEP goals tend to be massive concepts that include a bunch of little skills that need to be mastered. Creating curriculum maps allow me to schedule out the pacing of this instruction. Scheduling out all of the concepts really helps me because I know I don’t have to try and worry about a certain concept now because it’s scheduled on my curriculum map for later in the year. I like to create curriculum maps for groups of students or specific students depending on how they are grouped.
Why are lesson plans important?
It is essential to have some type of a plan for every center in your room. While some centers will stay the same every day (ie. Fluency), for other centers like Direct Instruction or Social Group – you need a simple & easy to utilize lesson plan format to reference each day.
Yes lesson planning isn’t always fun but having that quick reference guide for what you are working on is essential. Our jobs are BUSY. Mid-morning you may not remember what you ate for breakfast much less what you had planned to do in direct instruction
Tips on Lesson Planning:
Create a “quick guide” version of your lesson plans. If you need to do a more detailed version according to your school policy – fine. But sifting through all that text in the middle of a chaotic day will not work! Create a simple format that tells you briefly what you are doing with each student or group through the day!
Be flexible! Drama is our job. If there is a massive meltdown, fire drill, and toileting emergency (probably all at the same time too) – your phonics lesson you had planned so nicely isn’t going to happen. Be ready to go with the flow, change your lesson plans, have back up ideas ready, and move things around as needed!
With all of that flexibility, consider writing your lesson plans in pencil! Then you can easily move around activities and make those changes that WILL happen without having to reprint anything. Ink doesn’t grow on trees 🙂