Ask any of my students and they will tell you that one of my constant preachings is on the need to fight procrastination. Unfortunately it is a sermon which often falls on deaf ears with students, but the importance of preparation is a real thing, especially in teaching.
Most teachers, like me, undoubtedly enter each day with at the least a vague plan for the day, and at most a formal lesson plan. I'm somewhere in between, largely due to my utter disdain for "formal lesson plans". I believe in good planning, but the tedious form taught when completing teacher preparation programs has always seemed like busy work.
Planning, however, is a key variable to successful teaching. I often use my off-time in the summer to map out my ideal plan. I prepare a blank calendar for the semester, enter holidays and other interruptions which I know about, and then go about setting my plan for what will happen if every class meets for the entire class period every day, without anything unexpected taking place. I think about what we will do if we run short on time or have time leftover. Like I said, "ideal".
In thirteen years of teaching I have never actually used my ideal plan. And I'm ok with that. I know, going into the year, that this ideal plan won't work. I know I will have to move things around, or even cut things. I know that snow days, delays, pep sessions, convocations, etc. will cut into class time. I know that there will be times that I will need to give extra time to a subject, or that an opportunity for a great class discussion will present itself. In short, I know that the unexpected is going to take place. But I have found that it is much easier to handle the unexpected if your prepared.
With a calendar in front of me, I can see what can be moved, and to when. I can see what can be cut, if needed. Most might say that having these kinds of plans in place makes the classroom too concrete; quite the opposite. Being prepared in such a way allows me the flexibility to plan ahead for what may come, and ensure that I am covering material the kids need to know. If I think that more time needs to be spent on a given subject, or that the class would really benefit from an informed discussion, I can look at my plan and make the necessary moves.
Others might say I'm over-preparing...OK, I'll admit, that observation seems to be more on-point. I might be over-prepared. But weathering the storm of a sea that promises, like all, to be tumultuous requires me to ensure that I have a sea-worthy ship.