The Daring English Teacher Looks Ahead

The most terrifying moment for any teacher is mindlessly walking through a store on summer break, seeing all of the back to school displays, and suddenly realizing that you haven’t thought about a single thing for the next year, let alone planned anything. 

Cue teacher panic mode. And that, my dear friends, is why I am already looking ahead. 

As the school year comes to a close and we begin daydreaming about the bright promise of hot summer days spent at the pool with a book in one hand and a cool, refreshing beverage in the other, there is one thing we can do right now to avoid the end of summer panic: look ahead at the next school year.

I’m not talking about planning elaborate, detailed day-by-day lesson plans. I’m just talking about planning a rough sketch of next year’s curriculum: determine the length of your units and what you will read and write for each of those units. That’s it! If you do this, you will be able to enjoy your entire summer break without hearing that nagging teacher voice telling you to start your lesson planning. Plus, you will also feel eager and ready to not only start the school year, but to conquer it.

Summer Planning Tip: 

One thing I try to do every summer is look ahead and plan ahead for the next school year. This helps me prepare for the upcoming school year, and it also helps me keep my sanity and actually be able to enjoy that last week of summer vacation. You know the week: the one that feels like a perpetual Sunday night. To look ahead, I create a rough sketch of my upcoming school year on a single piece of paper and put in the front of my teaching binder. It is much easier to plan daily lessons once you have a snapshot of what your entire year will look like.

Once the organizer is filled out, it looks like this. When I fill it out, I try to map out which common core standards I will focus on for each unit, the length of the unit, and the major reading and writing for each unit. After that, planning is a breeze!

Get my FREE planner HERE!

Next year, I am teaching freshmen English, and I like to have one major reading assignment and one major writing assignment for each term. Since my school adopted the common core standards, I also want to make sure that I teach and assess each major type of writing (argument, informational, and narrative) at least two times during the year.

Beginning of the Year Resource: 

I always start my English classes with a six-week short story unit. In the beginning of the year, I use my Introduction to Short Stories unit. I created this unit for my freshmen, but it can easily be implemented in grades 7-10. 

If I am teaching ninth grade English, I usually start with “The Most Dangerous Game,” “The Necklace,” “The Gift of the Magi,” and “The Interlopers.” If I am teaching tenth grade English, I usually read, “The Lottery,” “There Will Come Soft Rains,” “The Rockinghorse Winner,” and “The Yellow Wallpaper.”

Teaching short stories in the beginning of the year is a good way to teach plot elements and theme -which always comes in handy later in the year as we get to the epic, the novel, and the drama. Teaching short stories in the beginning of the year is also a great way to get students interested in reading after a long summer. 

This resource is helpful for two reasons:

First, it contains a fully editable 18-slide PowerPoint presentation about plot and common short story elements. I like to include editable PowerPoint presentations in my units because they provide teachers with a bit more flexibility. This presentation is a great introduction to short stories, and it can be used with any short story you choose. 

Secondly, I rely on this unit because it includes supplementary teaching materials that can be used for any short story. With the materials in this resource, you can teach theme, character development, and more. It also includes all of the materials for a literary analysis essay about theme (brainstorming and prewriting activities, outlining, drafting, peer editing, and a rubric).

An InLinkz Link-up




  • Your Short Story Unit looks AMAZING! I'm off to check it out on Teachers Pay Teachers right now!

  • This is CLASSIC 9th grade. I have taught these… and I love them. I am so glad you shared this with me. Ideal for teaching elements of short story!

    • I absolutely love the ninth grade curriculum! Maturity level, not so much some times, but the literature is awesome.

  • LOVE it! Would you happen to have a download of your planning template? =D

    • Theresa,
      I don't have the form on TpT, but I can post it as a freebie in the next few days.

  • I love the balance between reading and writing in your planning for next year. Once I know what I am teaching next year, I will be doing the same.

    Brynn Allison
    The Literary Maven

    • Thanks, Brynn. I always try to pair reading with writing. It makes lesson planning so much easier.

  • I too like to sketch out ideas for the new school year to avoid that teacher panic! Trouble is, I never know what I am teaching until late summer. And this year we are getting a new principal so I may not know until we return from summer. However, I think I could always use your short story unit – it looks fabulous! 🙂

    Mrs. Spangler in the Middle

    • Oh no. Lisa. It's like that for us sometimes, but I have my schedule for next year already. The worst is when my schedule gets changed two weeks into the year. That's always a fun curve ball.

  • Amen to that teacher panic in the store! Last year, my local grocery store got out school supplies on July 5th – sheesh! Looks like some great ways to plan ahead! 🙂

  • I think that's when the displays out here go up, too. But then again, school starts the first week of August out here.

  • You've motivated me to start the year off more organized… love the idea of the one sheet of paper for the year!

  • Your planning sheet and short story unit look fantastic! I hate that feeling of panic, so I think I'll follow your lead.

    • The fist day of school countdown is already lingering in my head, Darlene. T minus less than 2 months and counting. Eek!

  • I adore your organizer — I especially love the way you color-code it! Such a clever way to capture one's thoughts and get all those bright ideas written down so teachers can then relax and enjoy a bit of well-deserved down time during the summer!

    Literary Sherri

  • I love teaching short stories! Starting with them is such a smart idea, too, because it helps make reading less intimidating at the beginning of the school year. Thanks for sharing!


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