Friday, July 14, 2017

My Planners

There has been so much talk in so many teacher communities about planners.  This is one of those topics where everyone has their differing opinions and ways to plan.  Today I'm weighing in on how I use my planners.

Yes, plannersss.  Multiple planners seems excessive to some people, but for me, I like having a place for everything and everything in its place.  For me, having one planner with everything would be overwhelming.  Multiple planners is more streamlined for me.

Blue Sky Day Designer
First up, the Blue Sky Day Designer.  This is my OG planner.  Ever since I started teaching I've used a Blue Sky planner.   These planners can be found at Target, and Blue Sky has partnered with a few other designers, but the Day Designer line is my favorite.

This is my "on-the-go" ultra portable planner.  I write everything down in my monthly pages - appointments, meetings, days off, math team meets, schools events, days that I stay after school, etc.  I even highlight the different categories in different colors.  This is basically my "life-at-a-glance".

I use the weekly planning pages for writing out my to do lists for the day, and since I have the full week in front of me, I am able to distribute my to do list throughout the week.  Last year during the MTBoS Blaugust challenge I posted about how I use highlighters to organize my to do lists.  You can read that post here.

This is the planner that I feel I could not live without.  It travels back and forth with me to school everyday.

Recollections Planner
Last January, Michael's produced a line of their own planners under the brand name Recollections (the brand typically used for their papercrafting products).

I have designated this my "Home Planner".  I keep my Day Designer on my school desk all day.  I really don't want students or colleagues seeing the bills that are due on a certain day or the meals I'm prepping or the area of my house that I've designated to clean.  I want to keep my home life separate from school life, so separate planners just made more sense to me.

(Side Note:  In the past when I did write these things in my one planner, I wouldn't keep the planner on my desk for fear of people seeing these things - not that they would be a big deal for anyone else to know about, I just want some privacy.  When the planner is not on my desk, my to do list does not get done.)

What I love about this planner is that it separates each day into three sections.  During the school year, I use the first section for the school tasks that I am completing at home.  This is where I outline the routine I shared in my last blog post.  Once I get home, I rarely look at my Day Designer; hence the need for this second planner.  Thanks to this second planner, I accomplish the school tasks that I need to do at home instead of forgetting about them as I did in the past with only one planner.

During the school year, the second section outlines what I need to get done at home.  This can include cleaning certain rooms, which loads of laundry I am doing, when I pay my bills, and any other miscellaneous household tasks.  In January, I went through the planner and added all of the bills that are due on their due date in the third section.  I wrote down the name of the billing company, and as I pay the bills I write the amount and the date paid.  It keeps everything organized in one place, and I needed that in my financial life.

Now that it's summer, I use the three sections differently.  I use the first section for tasks that designated for the morning, the middle for afternoon, and the third for evening (if it is blank).  I color code the tasks for school and home.  In the fall, I will go back to using the sections as established above.

I feel like I cannot talk about this beautiful planner and not mention the stickers.  Some people spend hours decorating a weekly layout in their planners with all kinds of stickers.  I am not one of those people.  I feel like there are much better uses of my time.  However, I love using stickers for a purpose.  I made my own sticker labels for the headings in my planner sections.  I printed them out using Microsoft Word, and then turned the labels into stickers using my Xyron Sticker Maker*.  I then cut them out, and placed them on their designated sections.

DIY Arc Notebook Teacher Planner
I always see teachers with all kinds of pretty teacher planners.  Some teachers create them on their own, and I love creating.  Last year, I tried to make my own planner, but with the planning routine that I already had, I didn't really need a teacher planner, and so I didn't follow through with using it.  You can watch the video of my original planner set up here.

I made my own weekly planner template in Google Docs.  This is where I do my lesson planning.  I like planning digitally rather than on paper because it's easy to move plans when something changes last minute (like a snow day or surprise assembly), and it's easy to share with my co-teacher.  Using the Google Docs planner made my Arc Notebook planner pages obsolete.  Although, truth be told, I am once again creating planning pages this summer.  I really just like to create forms and documents.  (Insert shrugging emoji here.) 

So what do I even use this planner for anyway?  It's more like my catch-all teacher notebook.  I have a section for "Plans & Ideas" with folders and page protectors holding the district calendar, pay schedule, all of the papers given to me that pertain to whatever unit planning the district is currently requiring, and blank pages of arc paper for lists and plans.  I have three sections for each of my three preps.  In these sections I have planning calendars and the scope and sequence for each course.  I also keep blank Arc Notebook paper for ideas and a list of things to change for the next year.  Finally, I have a section for Professional Development.  I have folders of PD handouts and notes from last year's PD sessions that I took on Arc Notebook paper.

I am planning on making a few changes to the functionality of this planner.   I really wanted to use it for lesson planning, but as I mentioned before I use Google Docs.  However, I need a place to store the ideas I have for upcoming units, so I'm going to add long-range planning pages at the beginning and pacing guides for each course.  Whatever I come up with, I will blog about in the future.

The only negative to this planner (aside from the initial costs) is that using regular paper is not always practical.  What I found after one year of use is that the pages I used the most did start to fall out.  To remedy this, I invested in heavier paper.  So far, I'm very impressed with Georgia Pacific 28 lb paper*.

*Contains Amazon Affiliate Links

Do you prefer one planner or multiple planners?

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