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Preparing lessons

Lesson preparation is the bane of any teacher's life. It can be especially stressful in the early years of teaching, although, from my experience of 25 years, it doesn't seem to go away. So, how can you get your life back? Are there any easy answers? I have discovered one solution that really does lessen the load and may help you to rediscover weekends.

Instead of planning individual lessons for a whole day, try to organise your time so that you plan a block of lessons for one topic or syllabus unit at a time. This could be a series of lessons to cover a three to six-week period. If there are several teachers in your department, share out the work so you each take responsibility for one topic. Build up booklets with key ideas and activities for each lesson . By doing this you will avoid the panic of what to teach in the next lesson. You'll feel more secure and, if by some chance your pupils leap ahead at an unbelievable pace, you know exactly where you're going and can move them on.

This method of working is especially good for AS and A-level students. They are all given copies of the booklet for that topic and can read at their own pace. This promotes independent learning and helps them when they are absent.

If you are away from school, the system makes it easy for your colleagues to set work.

Who knows, you may profit in other ways. You may even sell your booklets to a hungry publisher and retire early.

Marlene Griffin is head of biology at Hitchin girls' school, Hertfordshire.

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