There truly is an art to planning a great daily schedule for your class. Here are a few tips that you want to keep in mind.
1. Build in breaks for students to stand up, and move. Students become restless, just as adults do. While we’re teaching, we constantly get to move. Our students, however, do not. Remember to schedule bathroom breaks, center time, or any activity which involves movement after activities
which require sitting. Sometimes, I simply tell my students to stand up and stretch if we’ve been doing an activity for too long. It helps, however, if you incorporate the breaks into your daily schedule.
2. Plan how you will break up your literacy and math blocks. I love the fact that school’s now have long literacy and math blocks. The difficulty, however, comes when these breaks are not appropriately planned out. Teaching primary students, I find that 30 minutes is a good length of time for individual activities. Sometimes, you can let high engagement activities go a little longer, or end a low engagement activity a little sooner. I typically break my daily 2 hour literacy block up like this:
30 minutes for morning meeting and my literacy lesson.
30 minutes for students to work independently on an activity that goes with that day’s literacy lesson.
30 minutes for centers/guided reading time.
30 minutes for independent reading. (We build up to the full 30 minutes, but I schedule it in from the beginning).
By breaking my literacy block up I have plenty of time to diversify my activities – Writer’s workshop, reader’s workshop, etc. Typically I’m able to get my RTI work in during part of independent work, if I work very quietly I can also use part of independent reading time for it. I also have the ability to rotate through various center activities throughout the school year. In other words, I can keep the learning fresh while maintaining a lot of structure.
Here is a copy of last year’s schedule that my class followed.
3. Science and Social Studies. If you teach a self-contained class this time should be structured in, but will look different during various times of the school year. Typically I use the same block of time for both and spend two days on Science and three days on Social Studies each week. Some weeks, I flip this and spend two days on Social Studies and three days on Science. It just depends on what we have going on as a class. In general, I find that the best way to teach Social Studies is through incorporating it into the curriculum. During our Native American unit for example, we are reading, writing, and creating art projects about what we are studying. This way, I’m able to cover more material without stressing out over lack of time. It also makes the projects more fun for my students. My Native American bundle is a good example of a lesson that incorporates Social Studies directly into the curriculum.
4. Be Flexible. I cannot stress this enough. It’s great to have an awesome schedule that we want to follow each day. The reality, however, is that we teach children. There will be things that will have to alter your schedule. A child will get sick, there will be an assembly, you will be called to an IEP meeting. Have a great schedule, but be flexible when it has to change.
5. Have a time when Students can be pulled from class. The first week of school, special education providers will begin asking you for the best time they can pull students from your class. This is tricky, because you don’t want any students to miss important learning time. This can be stressful your first few years of teaching. I generally allow students to be pulled during center time or independent work time. This way, the student who needs to be pulled is not missing an actual lesson. I can then meet with the special education teacher and make sure the necessary work is still completed. Also, make sure that if the child is pulled during guided reading time you are still meeting with that child at another time.
By having a plan for each minute of the day you will find that your students are more comfortable, learn more, and behave better. You will also feel more confident in your teaching with a solid routine.