Tuesday, January 27, 2015

How I Plan...

So I wanted to stop by today and talk about how I plan. I love to read about how other teachers plan because I am always up for something easier or more organized. I actually planned this post for about a week ago, but as you know report cards + snow days + testing + PD + planning + TPT creating + grading papers  = one busy teacher!

My students and I received a student teacher who joined us right after winter break and will be with us until May. I have had teachers and students come and observe before, but never teach...by themselves...for a whole month...right before state testing. I am a tad nervous because I have been told I can be all "mama bear" with my students and have a hard time giving them up. But, no worries! This experience has already been great for me and my students. I will keep you posted and please, Please, PLEASE leave me any tips or comments or advice you have for student teachers. I honestly want to make sure I help her become the best teacher she can be.

Ok, So for me, it really all starts with the team plan. My team splits planning weekly and we each take a subject, I have Science/Social Studies. At first this made me nervous because of that control issue I mentioned above, but now I love it! We have gotten to the point where we know how to modify plans for our specific kids and what to include in our plans to better help the team. If you are considering switching to team planning, here are some things that have helped us stay on the same page.

1. Create a Template: Templates really help, otherwise you really have no idea what you will be getting week to week. Before we even started team planning (back in November), we discussed what we needed for each person. For example: I do science so we discussed that what they need from me is five 45 minute lessons, one content center for reading workshop, and unit tests with at least 2 technology-enhanced items. What we needed from the teacher doing math was five 30 minute lessons (at least one lesson from our state site), and ideas for math workshop stations.

We also wanted to make sure our template had everything our principal requires in our plans. It is so easy to turn in plans now, I just collect the plans everyone gives me at the meetings, clip them, and put them in my principal's box.

(As you can see, I'm still working on these. )

My team has also started adding pictures and anchor chart ideas from Pinterest to plans when it fits and it has been great!

Since I plan science and social studies, our units are 2-4 weeks long. I plan whole units at a time and then I don't have to plan for weeks.

2. Set a Timeline: Our goal is to have our plans for the following week emailed by Sunday night. So, I would have my plans for the week of February 9th emailed by Sunday, February 1st. That gives enough time to differentiate, make copies, and ask questions.

3. Come Prepared: This is actually one of our team norms. When you come to the meeting your plans should be done, you should have pulled all the resources listed in your plans, and you should have a copy of everything available for each team member.

4. Talk it Out: Because we have other things to talk about at meetings, we split up our planning days. Two of us present our plans at our Tuesday meeting and two of us present at our Thursday meeting. We typically have to set a timer because our time together is so precious, but this is when we run through our plans and describe the activities. We show copies of the worksheets, activities, or resources listed in our plans. We also give each team member a hard copy of the plans and one copy of each of the activities. Then we make the decision on who will need class sets of copies and that person puts it in the copy shop for everyone. Since the plans are emailed out by Sunday night, it is an expectation that you have at least looked at everyone's plans by Tuesday so you know the gist and can ask questions.

Alright, so after the team shares their plan, then what? Well, as class sets of assignments come rolling in throughout the week, I have to put them someplace safe...and that some place is my mailbox sorter in this picture of my messy desk area. (Just so you know, we had a workday yesterday and now my desk is much neater and my mailbox organizer has been cleaned out!)
1. The first column of slots is labeled by subject. When I get class sets, I place the piles in the subject slot.
2. The slots right beside the subject slot are where I put extras of work that I have already used and originals. At the end of every quarter I go through this slot to refile my originals and throw away extras that no one needed (which is rare).
3. Each of the stacked baskets has something in it. The red basket is where I keep homework. I copy for at least 2 weeks in advance.

Then...I map. I love having all of my plans detailed and typed nice and pretty for me, but in order for me to make sense of it, I have to write it down. Around Wednesday, I fill in my Erin Condren planner for the following week, so I can see it all laid out.

By Friday, I have all my copies made and I am ready to prep my bins. I lay out my planner and my daily bins. I place the papers in each bin in the order that I use them, so in my Monday bin, reading is on top because that is my first subject and homework is on the bottom because that is the last thing I will need.

Once I have filled all of my bins, I stack them neatly on my desk and I leave for a care-free weekend. Ha! I usually stay until at least 5 on Fridays, but at least my planning and copies are done so when I walk in Monday I don't have to scramble or wait for the copier.

Tell me how you plan or leave comments below with your thoughts. I can't wait to see what you do and steal some ideas. Thanks for stopping by!


  1. Wow! We don't do team planning in our building, but it looks like it could really work well. It would be scary to give up control, but I think it would raise the bar for everyone. You must also find that you have time to do much more detailed, thoughtful plans. Thanks for sharing.
    Laughter and Consistency

  2. How do you plan for reading? What is your reading set up?

  3. We hired the planner in a hurry. But she was a complete champ, planning everything really well so that I wouldn't have any worries on my wedding day. Our experience with the party planner was amazing, she is incredibly dedicated to her brides.