Lesson Planning for the Learning Support (Resource)Teacher

Lesson Planning for Special Education Teachers

Okay…. I wanted to share my processes for planning my pull-out/RSP/Learning Support classes in the upper school (6th to 12th grade), and also how I unit plan, and plan for co-teaching/push-in classes.  So here it is! 

I honestly do welcome any feedback about how you do things, so please leave a comment at the end about things you do for your planning.  I’m always trying to get even 1% better…on the regular.

Also, let me know if I can share more stuff.  I am trying to link to as many things as possible, but it’s Thursday night, got to work tomorrow, and have spent a lot of time on this already this week, so trying to wrap it up!

If you’re like me, you’re one of the reasons that YouTube is the world’s second biggest search engine.  Because of that, I have made a video about how I plan for the Learning Support, or Resource class here:

Background about my Lesson Planner Template

Picture of Beckett Haight in Kuwait, selfie style

One of the less colorful parts of spending the past 12 years teaching my way around the globe with 1, 2 and 3 year stints is that you are constantly needing to adapt to new systems.

When I arrived in the Netherlands last year I quickly sat down with some of my old upper school Learning Support (or Resource class) lesson planner templates, looked at my new middle school bell schedule, and got to work to making what I call my ‘cycle planner’ to plan all my lessons for the Learning Support class.  The key being that it fit into the weekly rotating cycles.

I was happy with this 2nd version of it and wanted to share it with other teachers in my new department, but didn’t want to be that guy….so I thought I would share it with the world instead!

The thing is, I never know if what I’m doing is best practice, or something novel, or just what everyone else is doing, so am hesitant to share things at times.

For example, when the recent semester just ended and I was doing some semester reflections with students in their progress monitoring docs, I had second thoughts about the efficacy of my process, so I reached out to the teachers in my department to see what they are doing to monitor student progress, and was looking to glean some tips. I’m always worried though that someone is going to be like, “Why not just do (blank)?” and blow my mind after I thought I was crushing it!

So in that spirit I’m not sure if me sharing about how I lesson plan for the Learning Support (or Resource) class is sharing a good way to do it, or someone will leave a comment ba-low, blowing my mind by what they do, but I thought I would share.

Overview of the Lesson Planner

  • It starts with me just having the student names in the class in my lesson plan template.  It may seem like a small thing, but I can say I was super happy once I started doing this.  It helps because if I have like five classes or something, and they don’t have a period name because it’s on a cycle, I add the names and it helps.  It’s the little things!
  • It also has the days and dates, the class day, and the time we meet. Again, seems like small things, but since our classes rotate, it’s helpful for me to see for example if it’s an 8:30 class on a Monday versus the last period on Friday for 6th graders.  I may have to approach things differently based on these details if you know what I’m saying.  Maybe a Kahoot game I wasn’t planning on doing on the Friday last period.
  • The cycle planner template I use has all my classes, for sure, but also has 3 weeks worth of all classes.  So the template comes out to about 15 pages to start with.  This helps with being able to look back and ahead, cross things out, plan future things, etc.  Just one of the ways I don’t forget random things.

Example of how the Cycle Planner looks (after a few days of use!)
  • One of key things this planning style helps me with is not forgetting stuff in the next week or weeks, whether for whole class or individual student

    Maybe I tell a student I will help them work on their ILP writing goal by editing their current writing piece when they get to that point, so knowing the draft is due on Friday, I will add the editing plan under their name the following Monday

    Every Saturday I have a note in my calendar to cross things out in the planner, along with following up with Random Things from the spreadsheet I keep for all the students. It helps me to be organized and I can reference things in the future if needed
  • Then getting into the nitty gritty, the template has a general section for whole class activities, announcements, etc.

    Some of the different things I have as part of the template are:
    • Typing practice
    • Organization check protocol
    • Math notes and math HW checks
    • Grade checks
    • Assessment corrections  
    • Weekend wrap-up to get to know the students a bit more

I build these things in at different intervals to keep some ‘things I do’ alive. I often will cut some of these things out of the new cycle planner I make from the template every 3 weeks, or mix and match depending on what we have coming up in class, but I keep them in mind of things I do so I don’t forget.  As I cut them out of the new cycle planner, I am reminded that it’s something that I like to do.  Lest he forgets!

  • The lesson planner also has a section for each student so we can work on things one-on-one based on their needs, goals, etc.

    This cycle planner system helps me to really focus on systematically helping students with their IEP goals and different areas of need that we are working on.  I can plan things out over several days, and not lose track of the whole class things or vice versa.
  • Also, part of my process is to cross things off as we go when I’m teaching. But then after 3 weeks I will start a new cycle planner and go back and makes sure any notes or things that weren’t crossed over will carry over (i.e. “Cycle Plan next time” is a note I put on the last day of the cycle when I haven’t made a new one yet but don’t want to forget to do something).

    By doing these two things I can assure that I’m on top of everything…..in theory.

Lesson Planning for the
Push-in or Co-taught Classes

I’ve had the opportunity to do a lot of co-teaching and push-in support over the years and started using my cycle planner lesson plan situation for the push-in after a few years of using that template for my pull-out classes.  This made sense as I developed my skillset and started doing more models of push-in support other than the one teach one support that doesn’t take too much planning if any at all. With the increased ways we were supporting students with two adults in the classroom came more planning, and a need for me to have a lesson plan for the support I was providing in the gen ed setting.

So here’s an example from the last time I was co-teaching on a regular basis.  It’s from an 8th grade math class and we were doing a ton of models of co-teaching, and interventions, and I used my cycle planner for that to make sure I was on top of things, could cross out what to do, plan things in the future, go back, etc.

Also, same year, here’s an example from an 8th grade English class where we were also doing a lot of co-teaching models and really trying to bring in some best practice with things like the Alternative Teaching and Parallel Teaching models.

This is  how I keep it organized for the push-in.

A lot of work can go into this compared to what cats might be used to with the one-teach one-support model, but the idea is that each year I add more and more resources and strategies, and remix the previous years push-in plans, so it’s legit over time.  The more years I work with the same content area/teacher, the better it gets, but I don’t kill myself to make it perfect the first time.

Unit Plan and the Day by Day Plans

So my Cycle Plan template described above is my go to for the day to day in the upper school pull-out resource/Learning Support class.  But I also have two other planners that I use for more details….on the day to day.

My Unit Plans for Special Education Classes

thumbnail type picture of the Knowing the IEP unit: Present levels and goals

Here’s an example of a unit plan for a unit I do as a part of a series of units at the beginning of the year called “Knowing the IEP”. This is part of a series of units that lead to the students helping to write their own ILPs (IEPs) in October, or later.

I use this UbD type framework to (backwards) plan to get all the major ideas out there like the objectives and enduring understandings.  Then in the ‘Learning’ section of the unit planner, the activities we will do on the daily are there and I have subsequent day by day plans I use to go into detail about what we will do that for each activity.

Part of the Unit Plan for Knowing the IEP

All told, I wanted to mention this part of my planning process after mentioning the cycle planner because in my cycle planner I will just have it say something like “Knowing the ILP Day 3”.  That will signal me to go to the Word doc with my day to day plans and look at day 3 to see what’s cooking for that day.

The Day by Day Lesson Plans

These come from the unit plan activites. Each activity and all that in the unit plan will get fleshed out a little more in the day by day plan that looks like this:

Additionally, in my cycle planner that I use for everything I will do in the day, I may write some notes like “give them time to finish day 2 thing before submitting” or something random like that. So I know that part of my pull-out class will have the Day 2 from the ‘Day by Day’ plan, along with the other things we have on deck like test prep, typing, working on an individual goal, etc.

It’s all linked together like corrupt politicians in the background.

Final Thoughts….

So this is the current iteration of how I plan for the Learning Support pull-out class, and a few other ways I plan as a Resource teacher.

I tried to link to as many templates and other stuff as possible in the text, but feel free to hit me up in the comments for a link to a document if I didn’t link.  It’s been working for me, but I’m always down for my schema to be shifted like Jean Piaget.

So I’m curious if someone will drop some science in the comments section below and let me know how I could 10x my approach to planning for my pull-out or push-in classes.

Let us know how you do it! 


I’m sitting in an old train station in Copenhagen, typing this up before I go head off to look for a place to lay my head tonight, and it got me thinking how many hours it takes to do these posts and YouTube videos and I started wondering why I do it.  I mean, besides the why I do it of wanting to share with the world all these things that are sitting on my hard drive; hoping to reach as many Special Educators as possible, and subsequently as many students.  But time is time, and I was wondering about that part of things! So it compelled me to mention that if you made it this far and liked what I wrote, subscribe to the blog, and to my YouTube channel because I’m trying to get the widest reach as possible, and maybe a little remuneration!


2 thoughts on “Lesson Planning for the Learning Support (Resource)Teacher

  1. Hey there! We truly appreciate reading people’s blogs and the inspiring content that creators like you produce . Your unique perspective contributes to the engaging online community that we all value . Keep writing and empowering your audience, because your ideas can make a lasting impact on the world. We can’t wait to see what you’ll produce next!

    Thanks – http://www.pomeranianpuppies.uk


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s