Do you plan your Sunday lesson three weeks in advance, using pie charts and graphing paper? Or perhaps you cram on Saturday night while binge-watching episodes of Fuller House? Whatever your style, consider incorporating some of these ideas into your routine.
1. Start early. Start short. Early preparation doesn’t have to take much time. Set aside 15 minutes to read through the upcoming lesson carefully on Sunday or Monday. The goal is simply to get the lesson in your brain so you can reflect on it from time to time as you go through your weekly routine.
2. Study. Then sleep. The National Sleep Foundation (sleepfoundation.org) reports that sleeping shortly after learning new information can help you remember the information for the long term. This appears to be the case even for naps after studying. So get that teacher book and catch a few z’s.
3. Grab a friend. Start Talking. Uncertain about a new teaching idea you have? Run it by someone who isn’t a teacher. The goal isn’t to ask whether the idea is a “good” one but simply to explain your idea and answer questions about it. The conversation will help you process the idea more fully as well as help you know where you’re being unclear.
4. Find a pen. Skip the screen. Recent studies from Princeton and UCLA suggest that taking notes by hand may be more effective for remembering information than taking notes on a laptop, especially if one doesn’t return later to study the notes that were taken. In short, write to remember.
5. Over-prepare. Under-stress. Preparation helps you feel confident and relaxed enough to recognize and respond effectively to spontaneous “aha” learning moments that often pop up in class. So, when in doubt, practice that craft activity one more time.