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How to Get the Most Out of Your Planning Time

A teacher has a million things to do every day and getting things accomplished during any small bit of planning time is the key to having your day run smoothly. Here are some suggestions for how to organize your non-teaching time to make the most of the time you have!

Photo of office supplies with text, "How to Get the Most Out of Your Planning Time"

Make a List

This might sound obvious, but it is probably the #1 thing that is going to help you make the most of your planning time. Document the things you need to accomplish and check them off as you go so that you don’t spend this precious planning time scrambling to figure out what you need to do!

You can create your lists using your device – Google Docs is a great way to have access to your lists from anywhere! I like to use the Notepad app on my iPhone and iPad when I make lists digitally.

I am generally more of a paper and pen lover (ahem, can we say I have a bit of a Flair pen problem?!) so I love to use my Erin Condren Life Planner for my lists. There are so many spaces for lists of any kind here! 

Photo of Erin Condren planner and markers.

If you’re also a pen-and-paper kind of person but aren’t ready to jump on the Erin Condren train, you can grab a free checklist template in the next section!

Prioritize

Hand in hand with making lists is prioritizing the items that need to be completed. Think about the things that MUST get done during your planning time on that day, things that can wait until later in the day, and things that can wait until another day.

Complete the form below to grab a FREE copy of my Planning Time Checklist! It is part of my Freebie Library, so if you are already a subscriber, you have the link and password!

Photo of free planning time checklist.


Close Your Door

I don’t know about you, but probably the biggest sucker of time from my planning time block is social in nature.

I might pass a colleague in the hall who I haven’t seen for a while, pop into the office for the key to our supply cupboard and end up chatting about the weekend with our office manager, or get caught chatting with someone by the photocopier.

I try to keep to myself during my planning time as much as possible. I close the door and save the social conversations for my break.

Save It

Now, of course, sometimes you NEED to have a conversation with a colleague or make a phone call home to a family member. My recommendation to you is to save it for the last ten minutes or so of your planning time. This gives you an out! You need to get back to class so the conversation can’t drag on and on forever. (We’ve all had those parents who just LOVE to chat, am I right?! 😉)

Mark Less

If you are still one of those teachers who marks every. little. thing. the students hand in… it is time for a change. Marking everything is not a good use of your time, and of no benefit to your students.

Take homework, for instance. If you’re still assigning it (read THIS POST for my views on that), don’t feel like you need to mark every response the child gives you! You can’t be sure that it was done independently, so the work can’t really be used for formal grading anyway, so why not just mark it as complete or not complete?!

Another solution is to have your students use an app like Seesaw to document their learning digitally. They can record a video or take a snapshot of their learning that you can assess in moments rather than marking a pages-long test. Learn more about Seesaw by visiting the website or checking out this popular blog post:

Photo of young girl on iPad with text, "Enhancing Student Engagement with Seesaw

Designate Days

Another great strategy for making the most of your planning time is to batch-process tasks by designating a particular task to a particular day.

What does this look like? Well, perhaps you will spend your planning time on Monday answering emails, Tuesday locating or creating activities for your lessons, Wednesday communicating with parents, Thursday preparing newsletters and other paperwork, and Friday doing the photocopying for the following week.

You’ll have to figure out a system that works for you (and doesn’t monopolize the photocopier!), but batching tasks is a great way to make the most of your time!

Have Copies on Hand

You can also make the most of your planning time by always keeping extra copies (or laminated copies) of the checklists and forms that you use regularly on hand.

I like to keep extra class lists, deposit forms, and to-do pages handy.

I also keep digital copies of all of my guest teacher plans for sick days so that I can quickly tweak them for the next day I am out of the classroom. It makes planning absences so much faster and easier!

Great Resources

Finally, you can ensure you’re making the most of your planning time by stocking your classroom with quality, no-prep (or low-prep) resources! Having great resources will give you the time for all those other things instead of having to scrounge from multiple sources to put together a lesson.

I hope you’ll look at some of my favorite time-saving, low-prep resources!

Your teacher planning time is short, and the list of tasks needing your attention is long. Check out these suggestions for making the most of your non-teaching planning time, and grab an exclusive free Planning Time Checklist to help you get organized today!

Your teacher planning time is short, and the list of tasks needing your attention is long. Check out these suggestions for making the most of your non-teaching planning time, and grab an exclusive free Planning Time Checklist to help you get organized today!
Your teacher planning time is short, and the list of tasks needing your attention is long. Check out these suggestions for making the most of your non-teaching planning time, and grab an exclusive free Planning Time Checklist to help you get organized today!

If you have ideas for making the most of your planning time, I would LOVE to hear them! Leave me a comment below or connect with me on Facebook!
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Photo of office supplies with text, "How to Get the Most Out of Your Planning Time"
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