“I’ll do that during my planning period” are every teacher’s famous last words. If we had planning periods all day long, we’d still have work we could do at home! So, what do we do? We need strategies and a plan in place to make the most of our planning period. I’ve got 8 tips to help you make sure you are using your planning period efficiently and maximizing your time!
1. Plan for your planning period.
Just like I plan for my class periods, I plan for my planning periods. I like to do this for at least a week at a time. I will look at the whole week. What meetings do I have? What things do I want to accomplish? What’s coming up that I need to be prepared for? Then, I sit down and map out the best way to use my time during each planning period. I always try to leave at least one planning period a week dedicated to grading, especially after I’ve given an assessment. Make sure to leave yourself some flexibility for those tasks that just pop up as well!
2. Time your time.
There’s a saying that goes “ What gets measured, gets done.” I love to set timers for certain tasks during my planning period. Knowing I’m on the clock really pushes me to work harder and get all that I can, done in the time limit. But, this only works if you actually move on to the next task when the timer goes off! I like to use this for tasks that are ongoing: tidying up your classroom, organizing files, maybe even grading.
3. Do what has to be done, not what you want to do.
If there’s ever a task looming that I don’t want to do, you’ll for sure catch me updating my Sudoku bulletin board. The kids need a new Sudoku challenge, right?! Is that a priority? Definitely not. But, it’s way more fun than making a B version of the unit test. Prioritizing your tasks will ensure you’re not scrambling to do the things that have to get done. And usually, the dread of completing a task is worse than actually doing it. (Side note- if you are currently dreading making a B version of the unit test, check out my pre-made, editable Geometry tests here!)
4. Brain dump at the beginning of the period.
At the beginning of your planning period, make a list of everything you need to do. Get that stuff out of your head! I write down EVERYTHING. Make copies, call the dentist, email Riley’s parents, buy dog food, set an agenda for PLC…Writing these things down allows you to let them go without worrying that you’ll forget them. Just don’t lose that scrap of paper!
5. Set a time limit for email.
Your planning period is a perfect time to check and respond to emails, but it can be easy to let time get away from you. Set a limit on how long you will spend on email so that you can still accomplish other tasks.
6. Do one thing at a time.
Teachers, by necessity, are great multitaskers. And while this is good, it can also, at times, hinder productivity. I’m the queen of grading in the workroom while making copies. But, I don’t even want to know how many trees I’ve wasted by making mistakes on my copies and not catching it until I was done, forcing me to start over. When we feel overwhelmed or stressed, we tend to try and multitask, but this is actually when we need to prioritize one thing at a time.
7. Close your door.
How many times has your chatty hall neighbor come by during your planning period and left 10 minutes later? Time you could have been working! On the days you really need to focus during your planning period, lock and close your door. If someone really needs you, they can call your room, send an email, or text you.
8. Make a planning period playlist!
Most days when I’m trying to be productive, I put on music. It helps me focus and drown out the background noise of school. I have certain types of music and artists I like best when I’m trying to work, so I put together a playlist of these songs. I’ve listened to it so much that I automatically associate productivity and working when I hear the songs. It really helps me get in the right mindset.
Do you have your own great tips and strategies to maximize your planning period? Leave them in the comments below! And, check out more ways to maximize your precious time with this post about class time efficiency! Enjoy!