How to Manage your Planning Period as a Teacher - Mrs. B's First Grade

How to Manage your Planning Period as a Teacher

Teachers have limited time to plan and prep during the school day. Yet, in order to teach all day, they must spend time planning and prepping. So, how do you do both? In my thirteen years experience, I found my prep times hard to manage. Until, I made a weekly planning checklist!

When you have been teaching for hours and *finally* get a prep, the last thing you want to do is figure out what needs to get done.

You want to eat.

You want to get coffee.

You want to go to the bathroom.

You want to say hi to your teacher bestie.

You want to turn off the lights in your room and enjoy the silence. 

And then, before you know it, your planning period is done and you have finished nothing.

Sound familiar?

This was my life.

It was fine before I had kids and had more time to come early and stay late. 

That lifestyle gets old quickly though. And something I'm not willing to do now that I have two boys.

My solution?

Plan out my planning periods.

We are teachers, right? We are expert planners! Why not plan out your planning periods too?

That sounds like a lot of work - it isn't.

At the beginning of the school year (you can start whenever though!) I create a weekly planning checklist.

I have been in first grade for eight years, so I have a good idea of what needs to get done each week.  I combine that knowledge with my new planning period schedule, and create my plan.

Map out what needs to be done weekly and the planning periods that you have.
  • Each week I need to grade homework, email out my newsletter, put my newsletter on my blog, plan for the week, prep for the week, and write a newsletter for the following week.
  • Grading homework, emailing the newsletter, and putting it on my blog does not take long - and needs to be done on Mondays. So, I do that then.
  • I do not have very much time on Tuesdays, so I just fill in basic plans for the following week.
  • I have more time on Wednesdays, so I finish all the details of my plans.
  • I start my prep on Thursdays so that I do not leave it all for Friday.
  • On Fridays, I finish my prep and write my newsletter. I like to leave short tasks for Friday because I know my motivation will be low.
Think about all of the little tasks that need to be done each week.
  • In addition to my weekly planning checklist, I also create a smaller, more detailed, checklist to help me as I am going through my lesson planning.
  • I write down all of the areas that need to be done each week and get very specific. For example, within reader's workshop I need to write my actual reader's workshop plans, then I get out my teacher's book to read, highlight, and make notes of the lesson that I am teaching, and last I need to gather supplies and make copies. So, I write in my check list, Reader's Workshop Plans, Reader's Workshop Highlight, and Reader's Workshop Copy. When I'm done with each area, I cross it off.
  • I leave blank lines in my checklist on purpose. I write down the little things that come up each week in there so I make sure I get those done too.
  • This sounds like a lot - but I create this document ONE time and then print out several copies. Then, I'm done for the year!

Put it in an organizer and print it out.
  • After you have your times planned out, you create an organizer. Almost like a weekly calendar.
  • I bind mine into a book so that I have it ready to go week to week. Plus, I love crossing the items off when I finish them and looking back knowing that I can get it all done - because I've done it before.

And that's it! 

Remember above where I wrote what you want to do during your planning periods? Well, I still do those things. 

But, the difference is that I know what I need to get done. So, I choose to grab a coffee and plug in my lesson plans on Tuesday knowing it wont take me long. Or, I get everything done and know on Friday I can chat with my teacher bestie. 

Planning out your plan periods helps you get stuff done - but also create a balance.

I promise it works.

And coming early/staying late/coming in on weekends? I really truly don't need to do that anymore. I'm more productive with my day. There are times - like report card season - that it must happen. But, during the regular weeks - I'm good!

Ready to get started? I've already done a lot of prep for you. You just need to plug in your information! 

Click the picture below to check out my exact planning checklist!

Good luck! I would love to know how this changes your days!

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