A Peek Into My Brain? How I Prepare

In a single workday at a school, I could have conversations, presentations, or lessons with multiple groups of people:

  • Administrators or Literacy Coaches
  • Small group of Classroom Teachers (in a pre-brief of upcoming mini-lesson)
  • Students (modeling a mini-lesson)
  • Large group of ClassroomTeachers (presentation of a strategy or habitude)
  • And of course, with myself (monitoring and self-awareness)

A wide variety of personalities, mindsets, and skills.

I don't look at my notes once the day begins (except possibly during a break). This leads to questions about how I can "wing it" with such seeming ease. I don't wing it, and though there may be occasional modifications, there is always a plan and purpose on entry. And there is preparation. And practice.

I believe because of the practice, the conversations are able to be … well, more conversational. 

In The Presentation Secrets of Steve Jobs, author Carmine Gallo notes that "…Jobs spends hours of grueling practice before a keynote presentation." Grueling practice = Passionate preparation? 

Those who know how I work have been after me for awhile to share my "index files," either in posts or book form, so here's a glimpse into part of my presentation preparation. 

Here's the cards from my lesson on Gifts From the Writer:


This is a lesson plan I model with students in front of teachers. I've been doing the index card planning forever (I have boxes and boxes of index cards). When I first started teaching, I would have the cards behind the book, on my lap, somewhere close at hand. Though I don't have them so close anymore, I still use this type of preparation.

For larger presentations and keynotes, I often storyboard the presentation … yep … on index cards. I'll share that process in an upcoming post.

I hope this helps you prepare your lesson plans or when speaking before peers. Of course, I'd love to hear how you prepare — either in comments or on your site.

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  • http://www.ig.com.br Berynjella

    I´m grateful know about your experiences.

  • http://ilearntechnology.com/ Kelly Tenkely

    I storyboard my lesson plans too. Since I teach in the comptuer lab, I generally write an entire unit at one time. I plan out each learning goal that I want to accomplish, assign it a task, and then divide it up into reasonable chunks so that students can complete each chunk during one computer class. It helps me to see the whole picture and to have all the learning goals in one place.

  • Andi

    I am the same way– once I write it down I don’t read it or refer to it during the day. I rarely look at my plan book at all. What I do is really sit and think of my BIG IDEAS and what I am trying to achieve. Often times I write and write and write about what I want to do (on legal pads–or a notebook). I then write lessonplans. At the end of the day, I think about where I want to go, what resources I had down and then I go in and it comes together. Kindof a weird way, but if I work hard on my lessons, I am involved in them and somehow I connect them in my mind to do the lesson without knowing what I planned.

    The catch is when I don’t prepare very well, or really reflect on my teaching. (there are weeks like that!) I CAN’T teach without looking at the plan. Because I haven’t committed my mind.

  • http://www.angelamaiers.com AngelaMaiers

    Thanks Beryn! Sometimes we see the “end product” of a lesson, a presentation or conversation…and do not get a chance to see the messy, crazy learning that led up to it.

  • http://www.angelamaiers.com AngelaMaiers

    You just said the magic word necessary for preparation and success- REFLECTION
    These cards are more about reflecting on what I wish to share with students, why and how will they benefit, and where the conversation might take us.

    Reflection is the key to successful teaching and learning, and when we forget to give ourselves time to do that (in any form!) we are all better for it! Thanks for sharing yours!

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