Back to school season is by far my most favorite time of year other than Christmas and my birthday! I know, for some, seeing the back to school items cause others to cringe but only because we do not want to give up naps and the freedom to use the restroom whenever we want. Right?
For me, the back to school season gives me an opportunity to rejuvenate myself, revisit and review strategies and begin anew all over again. I get excited about starting another EDUjourney with a new group of students. In addition, I love to PLAN! I really do:).
Planning for the school year can be overwhelming, fun, and draining! Every year I like to reflect on what planning strategies worked, what I struggled to maintain and if I was productive. Some years feel/are better than others and I thought I would share the tools that I use that increase my productivity and ease my workflow when planning for the school year.
Scope and Sequence for the Year Spreadsheet
The term scope and sequence sounds daunting but creating one has been one of the best routines that I do. My district gives teachers two planning days to use for the year. I tend to use one first semester during the beginning of the year with my team to get the year rolling. The second day I use during the end of the year to plan next year’s scope and sequence. Now the idea is not to complete it but since items are “fresh” in my mind, I can reflect on what I have done and plug-in those items into the spreadsheet.
I have used The Ultimate Year Curriculum Planner from Traci Clausen. I have used this spreadsheet for a couple of years and I love it. Now could I have made this myself, YES, but for about the price of a Starbucks coffee (venti, of course) I figured why not! I chose the 6 subject layout, changed the dates to fit my district calendar and it has worked beautifully. I love all the colors too!
Having this spreadsheet allows me to visually see how I can plan out units of study. In addition, since it is a sheet, I have linked projects, folders, Wakelets, Google docs within it as well. I do print it out because I live in both the analog and digital world. Don’t judge!
Digital and Paper Planning
To guide my classroom on a daily basis, I use both a paper planner (Happy Planner Teacher Edition) and web-based planner, Planbook.com. I also use a web-based planner just for substitute teachers, stay tuned for a later post!
First and foremost, I am a planner hobbyist. I love stickers, notebooks, and planners…OH MY! I tell my mom that it is her fault that I have this obsession since she would never buy me any Lisa Frank stuff! Anyhow, I have the need to write everything out so that I can feel my situation. Having things written down where I can sort or cross them out is just how my brain works. I feel successful and not as overwhelmed when I can physically grasp what I am doing.
Our school site, using Google Calendar for everything which I LOVE! So those dates and events are entered in both my digital and paper planner. Here’s what I track in my teacher planner:
- Monthly dates, reminders, and meetings
- To-Dos ( I like to call this my Brain Dump then I prioritize from there!)
- Meeting & Training Notes
- Student Anecdotal notes
- Ideas & Projects
Last year, I would jot down my lesson plans in a lesson plan template that I created to print out on my happy planner teacher inserts, however, I realized that this caused more stress for myself! As much as I love having those plans printed, I would have to remake a new copy every week and that workflow did not work for me.
By the second semester, I was back to using Planbook.com because it is easy to use and customizable! I decided to print out my lesson plans and insert them into my teacher planner. This system worked for me. I was able to plan digitally inserting all links and resources than print out my lesson plan for the week. I enjoyed being able to physically review or write in my plans for I am not always by my computer and let’s face it I will not remember everything that went well or not by the end of the day.
Digital and analog planning allows me to ground myself on having realistic expectations of my time and the flexibility to facilitate learning without feeling like I am drowning on a daily basis. It helps me keep the end goal in mind. I left some resources for you below to check out!
Are you a digital or analog planner? What programs or planners do you prefer? Do you have a different workflow? I would love to hear about it! Share below in the comments!
Here are some additional resources:
Click here for my Back To School Wakelet!
I will have a future blog post that I will dedicate to Planbook but if you would like more information on how I formatted it. —>Ladybug Teacher Files blog post