Thursday, February 12, 2015

Get the Most Out of Your Planning Time

Hi there!  Melissa here again, from First Grade Smiles.  I hope you've been enjoying the many amazing ideas from my fellow superheroes of teaching.  This month I'm here to share a little something that took me 12 years of teaching to fine tune.  It's not something you would necessarily think would take 12 years to figure out, but some of us are a little slower than others.  ;)

So what I'm talking about is this:

In my 12 years of teaching I have ALWAYS brought home work to do.  Every. single. day.  It's not that I haven't been also working during my planning period, but somehow I would spend that time going from one thing to the next, really only accomplishing small tasks while the bigger ones would need to be taken home.  I can't be the only one who falls victim to this.  

So this year it got to the point that I just couldn't be bringing so much home anymore.  Mostly because I would inevitably not have enough time to do it all and have to bring it home again the next day.  My school bags were getting to go for some nice rides in the car.  

Well, not anymore people!

This year I decided to make a schedule for myself in order to stay focused during my oh-so-short 40 minutes.  Here is how I decided to split up my week:
It's not groundbreaking - I know.  In fact, some first year teachers might have already figured this out.  But like I said, I tend to get distracted and really needed something to keep me focused.  

Here's a little more detail for my reasoning in my schedule.  

In my district we send out our copies to a copy center in the district and it takes about 2-3 days for them to come back.  I wanted to be sure they would be back in time so I send them out on Monday and then they are back by Thursday.  

Tuesdays is my day to grade papers.  I had to make one day for this because I really don't enjoy it and don't want to do it everyday.  

Wednesdays is my day for writing out my plans.  I can't do this too early in the week because I need to know how things are going in my current week to get a sense for what I can plan for the following week.  

Thursday is my day to catch up on parent contact or really any communication about students, whether it's paperwork or talking to service providers.  

And finally Friday I am ready to organize my papers and materials into my Monday through Friday bins for the following week.  I switch out my centers too.  

Don't get me wrong, I do still bring home work sometimes, especially when it's cutting out laminating, but this little schedule has helped so much.  

So now it's your turn to tell me how much smarter you are than me how you get the most out of your planning time.  What works for you?  I'd love to hear.  

Thanks for stopping by with me again.  Until next month :)


  1. I love the idea of following a routine, Melissa! I stopped bringing work home a few years ago... but that sometimes means my desk has a piles of "to-do's"! And lesson plans don't count as work right??? ;-) thank you for sharing!

    1. Oh the piles, Leigh! I definitely have a pile problem. I don't know if any schedule will help me with that. What I really need is an assistant - ha!


  2. Unfortunately I have meetings Wednesdays and Thursdays and occasionally other days. But maybe I could do something like this on my free daya

    1. Kasey,
      I think I will have to change this next year because we will also be having more meeting during our planning times. On those days I might try to stay just a little later after school. Thanks for commenting - good luck! :)


  3. this is doable provided we actually get a planning time everyday... last week no computer teacher or sub so I was bell to bell and then on Tuesday we had career day and again was bell to bell with the kiddos... and then there are team meetings... but I do LOVE this idea!!

    1. Karen,
      It's so hard when our days are filled with so much responsibility. I definitely understand having other things interrupt our planning time, so of course this schedule doesn't always come through. Thanks for sharing and I hope you are able to carve out some time for your own responsibilities.


  4. I love the idea of having a schedule for getting work done on preps. I think I will have to try this myself. Although I don't have prep every day I could tweak it a bit to fit our school's day schedule. Thanks for sharing this great idea!

    Mrs. Wiley
    @ Wiley Teaching