In case you don’t know, I’m a little bit of a control freak… there I said it, admitted it… don’t judge me. Usually when people hear “control freak” they think of someone who isn’t flexible or has to have it their way and this may be correct in some ways but I’m more referring to my need to have things organized and well run. In high school I was terribly disorganized, lost things, forgot my homework, the works. It wasn’t until college when I had more on my plate, more activities, more committees and overall more responsibilities that I learned to take control and organize my life. I figured out that I needed to organize my life in advance so that everything could fall into place instead of taking it as it came because that is when I got overwhelmed and stressed.
For instance, in my classroom and home, I like to have everything organized so that everything has a home. You see, if everything didn’t have a home, that’s when my messy side comes out because I don’t have any where to put it. I have to force myself to be organized up front, or I go crazy, drowning in clutter later on. When it comes to teaching, I have systems set up for almost everything so that I can ensure I won’t lose anything or get overwhelmed. All my papers have folders and a separate system/place for after they are graded and ready to be handed back. Having these little systems set up helps me be more efficient in the long run.
Now a good portion of teaching is preparing lessons and grading. So when I started teaching I knew I needed to have a way to organize my lesson plans and my grades. Over the years I’ve become especially more particular about my planner and grade book and have come to design it myself so that I get exactly what I want. I started off my first year with just printed grade sheets that I stapled together… it worked okay. The problem was then I had a separate system for my planner. It ended with just a lot of loose journals, papers etc… you get the drift. The lesson I learned from this? I wanted something that had my planner and my grade book together, bounded together so I never had to worry about leaving one behind by accident.
Then I found Erin Condren Planners and I felt like I was in heaven. It had everything I wanted in my planner, lesson plan outlines for the week, my grade book, a year long outline and more! I used this system for two years and really loved it. The problem is that I am a little too particular… You see, Erin Condren produces an awesome teacher planner and it has everything but… I didn’t want everything. I didn’t need the birthday lists or the absent student pages. I also wanted my planner to read Monday-Friday across the top instead of down the side since I didn’t have multiple subjects to outline. Erin Condren is an excellent planner, especially for elementary school teachers, I just felt I had out grown in. And so I did what I like to do… I sat down and designed my own.
I love to make things. Love it. I love to create things from scratch and I LOVE to spend hours and hours pouring over every little detail. This is why I love to lesson plan and why I love photography and editing my own images. Time escapes me as I design and create because I really am having a lot of fun. Teachers I work with have lovingly poked fun in the past about my need to redesign the simplest worksheet just so the fonts are cute, but I like it. I enjoy making things look pretty. That probably sounds silly but when I deliver a product, be it a worksheet or a gallery of images, I’m proud and excited when I know it looks nice.
Last summer I sat down and designed my own planner with exactly what I wanted. I wanted the planner portion to read like a normal planner with the month calendar and then the lesson outlines per week right afterwards versus all the months grouped together with the lesson outlines grouped separately. I designed a section for meeting notes to fit in with the month so I can take notes during faculty meetings. I also designed the planner portion to work for what I wanted. I wanted a space for prep, to grade and to plan. I also wanted to include a space for a to do list for the weekend. The result is something that is perfect… for me. Maybe not for everyone but it’s exactly what I want and need in order to stay organized. I’m also a person that if it doesn’t look good then I don’t like looking at it and probably won’t use it as much so… I went a little crazy on the overall design pieces. 🙂
If your interested in designing your own planner just know that it’s not so hard! Last year I used Microsoft Word to make everything. This year I decided to make it on Indesign because I liked how they have the pages set up as spreads which is easier to see how everything lays together. In order to save money I’m printing everything at home and then taking it to Staples. I can get the front and back cover laminated with a thick laminate and then bound for only 10 dollars which is a lot cheaper then printing everything at Staples… a mistake I made last year… lesson learned.
Let me know if your interested in making your own and want some help! I would love to help if you need it!
I’m just a little obsessed with the front cover. 🙂
This is actually towards the end of the planner but I love the Feel Good Moments. The funniest things will happen while teaching Middle School and I always forget to write it down… not this year!
My grade book! The dotted lines help me read across the grades so I can easily find students grades.
The planner! Our schedule is different this year so I had to redesign this from last year to work.
Back cover! My favorite quotation.