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Strategic Planning: Selecting Core Protocols

During my first few years of teaching, I routinely spent about 10 hours planning each lesson. By my last two years of teaching, I was able to limit myself to 30 minutes of planning per lesson. This was a huge win for my work-life balance. Reducing your lesson prep time by 95% is a fantastic goal, but it may seem unattainable at first. It requires you to commit to some big mindset shifts in order to adhere to such a strict limit. We want to address the required shifts in thinking and some specific strategies that can help you reduce your lesson planning time.


This post talks about the protocols or activities that shape our lessons. EL Education, the creator of an open access ELA curriculum filled with creative protocols, notes, “teachers are often most successful when they choose three to five protocols that anchor their instruction and focus on these” (Collaborative Culture, EL website).



In any curriculum, there are basic activities that expose students to new information and help them make sense of it and there are activities that ask students to demonstrate their learning. If we can attach 1-2 protocols to the learning “input” and 1-2 protocols to the learning “output” activities, we could simplify our curriculum planning process. For example:


What are your favorite protocols?

Share in the comments below!

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