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Tips for Teaching Multiple Preps

How to Survive Teaching Two or More Subjects

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Many teachers have to face the challenge of teaching multiple preps in a given year at some point during their career. In many schools, new teachers are given their teaching assignments after all the other teachers have staked out their territory and know what they are teaching. This means that in most cases the new teachers will not be given prime teaching assignments. Instead, they will have to teach a number of different subjects each day. For example, a new high school social studies teacher might be assigned to teach two classes of Economics, one class of American History, and two classes American Government. Thus, they will have to create three sets of lesson plans for each day with no real overlap. The question then becomes, how to remain sane while teaching these subjects with excellence.

How to Deal With Multiple Preps

Speaking from experience, multiple preps can be very trying for new and experienced teachers. New teachers will not have the benefit of tried and true lesson plans that they can implement in their classes. They will be starting from scratch. On the other hand, experienced teachers who are assigned a new subject will have to move away from their comfort zone as they create lessons anew. Following are a number of ideas that can help both new and experienced teachers as they teach different subject areas.
  1. Organization is the Key to Success - Teachers facing multiple preps must implement an organizational system that makes sense and works for them. You might find that one or more of the following work for you:
    • Dedicating Specific File Drawers for Each Class
    • Color Coding File Folders
    • Color Coding Student Folders and Notebooks
    • Creating Daily Agendas for Each Class on Overhead Sheets
    No matter what system you choose, it is imperative that you consistently use it to make sure that you keep your lessons, notes, and grades separate and accurate.
  2. Use Available Resources - There are many places you can go to get lesson ideas. Use textbooks and supplementary material along with educational websites to find ideas that you can quickly modify and include in your plans. If another teacher is also teaching or has taught a specific class, approach them for lesson ideas. Most teachers are more than happy to help out in these situations. You will still want to modify their lesson to make it your own, but having it as a basis can reduce the time required for your own preparation.
  3. Vary the Complexity of Lessons on a Given Day - Try not to schedule two complicated lessons on the same day for different preps. For example, if you are having the students participate simulation that requires a lot of preparation and energy on your part, then you might want to create lessons in your other classes that do not require so much time and energy.
  4. Use Resources Wisely - In the same way that you want to vary activities across the day to keep your energy up, you will also want to make sure that you schedule lessons so that it is easier for you in the long run. For example, try and schedule lessons that require time in the media center to occur on one day.
  5. Find a Way to Destress Teacher burnout is a real phenomenon. Teaching can be quite stressful with all of the pressures and responsibilities placed on teachers. In fact, multiple preps really just add on to the already long list of the causes teacher stress. Therefore, you need to do what you can to take care of your own mental health. Check out 10 ways to manage teacher burnout for some great ideas.

It is definitely possible to survive and thrive teaching multiple preps. All it requires is organization, a positive attitude, and the ability to leave your work at school each day.

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