Planner with markers and pens nearby
Tips for Teachers and Classroom Resources

Back to School Planners, Tools, Lists – Oh My!

By Brisa Ayub

It might be safe to say that now the rest of the world knows what many teachers have known for a long time – teachers have one of the hardest and time consuming jobs out there. Teaching requires planning, and a lot of it. With time outside of the classroom now blurred more than ever, it is important to ensure that you are saying as effective and efficient as possible. 

There are a handful of benefits when it comes to staying organized. The top one being that it reduces stress. Something we could all use right? Being organized by planning out your day/week/month can help save time for other things that you want to do. If you are constantly having to determine where something is, or what is happening next or trying to remember if you already did this or that, you are wasting time that you could be using for something else. Another big benefit is increasing your productivity. We have all heard it but few of us actually practice it day in and day out. There is no such thing as multitasking. At least not done truly efficiently. Productive people tend to focus on one task at a time and they know what they need, when they need it and where to find it. All of which takes planning and organizing. Still need to be convinced? Staying organized can help you become more creative. Being organized can help your mind become free to think, explore and grow since it is not tied up with all that other “stuff”.  

One way to help with that is to have the tools to help you plan. Here are some tools to help you do just that. Whether it is a tool to help with lesson planning or just staying organized, we have you covered. 

  • Google Docs: Yep, I said Google Doc. Did you know that they have a library of lesson plan templates ready to go for you? They also have weekly and monthly planners that you can customize as you see fit. See an example here by Reading Rainbow. 
  • Common Curriculum: Create lesson plans quick and easy with this tool. This tool has everything from lesson planning, easy to use templates, to using backwards design in your unit planning. You can even start collaborating with your peers through their collaboration feature. 
  • Planboard: This tool can help you track your classroom schedules and lessons through their online lesson planner and gradebook. They have an easy to use interface and you can embed videos and links into your lessons. 
  • Nearpod: This is a great tool for creating interactive lessons to share with your students. Nearpod allows immediate feedback on assessments and polls that you can incorporate into your lessons. Nearpod also has a huge library of lessons to pull from. 

Need to stay on top of it day to day? Whether you use a printed calendar or an online tool to keep track of your daily schedule and appointments – doing so can help to ensure that nothing falls to the waste side or gets forgotten. You can use them to set reminders, send invites, share and organize events and meetings with others. From the obvious ones that you might already know about or maybe have overlooked to some others that you might not yet know about, here is a short list to help you pick the right tool for you and your lifestyle.  

  • Google Calendar: This one stop shop tool has all the goodies. Color-coding for different calendars or types of meetings. It is easy to add a new event from your computer or mobile device. You can view the calendars even when you are offline from your mobile device and it is easy to sync up with your other google tools. If you already use a google email, this might be a good choice. 
  • Cozi Family Organizer: Not only is keeping your class organized important but so is keeping your family life. Cozi Family Organizer works great for active families that have a lot going on. The easy to use interface will have you up and running in no time and you can even assign a different color to each family member. Did I mention that you can email or text out “to-do” lists and even those oh so important and often hard to remember grocery lists! Have a favorite recipe? You can even store your recipes in the calendar for easy access or to help answer the “What’s for dinner?” question. 

More old school? I can admit it, I have both. There is something about writing down in my weekly calendar that I can’t let go of. Here are a handful of my favorite weekly appointment books and planners. 

  • At-a-Glance: These guys have been around forever and know how to make an easy to use, easy to plan planner. I especially love this one as I like to see my life week by week. 
  • Moleskine: The classic planner and beloved by millions. I don’t know why but I just feel more organized when I use these. These guys come in soft or hard covers and have all that you need to stay organized and on top of it. My favorite? They always include some little fun elements like travel planning, some pages for sketching and journaling – even some stickers to help organize. They even have a little card pocket in the back to help save those important paper scraps. 
  • Orange Circle Studio: Just looking for a little planner that can keep you organized and up to date and bring a little smile to your face? The Orange Circle Studio has a handful of petite pocket-sized planners to carry around. Throw it in your bag or keep it next to your desk. Their designs are delightful and uplifting so even if you never write something in them, you will be sure to smile from the whimsical illustrations. 

Whether you go digitally or use the old school, paper and pencil route, getting organized and planning ahead will be beneficial and can help free up more time for the other things in your life. Go ahead, try something new and see how it feels for a couple weeks.

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