I promised this post FOREVER ago and just haven’t done it for many reasons. Some of which aren’t good ones, some of which are unimportant right now. But, REGARDLESS, it is here!
I think at this point, we know I love Erin Condren Planners. I received my Teacher Planner back in the spring for this upcoming year and I’ve been randomly playing with it ever since.
The most common misconception I hear about this planner is that its more for use by an elementary school teacher than anyone else because it’s so colorful and, almost, animated. Any educator at any grade level can use this, you might just have to tweak it a bit to suit your needs. I’m a high school counselor and I got full use out of this planner in the past year. It did need some tweaking, but it keeps me organized and I love how colorful it is. It makes me want to continue using it throughout the year.
I’ve had a number of people ask me how I use this to suit my needs. I think, at this point, I have it about 90% set up for this upcoming year, so now I will show it. Mind you, I did buy this planner last spring, so it’s not quite the new and improved planner that Erin Condren just released a couple of weeks ago. But the changes aren’t drastic, so it should still give a really good idea of how a non-elementary school teacher can use this to organize themselves.
I will warn, this post will be a bit longer than what I normally do, hence the cut here. I really wanted to give detail to each section and why I tweaked what I did. I know this isn’t exciting to everyone, but I know it will be greatly beneficial to some people.
Just as a beginning point, one of the things I love about Erin Condren planners and this one in particular is how sturdy they are. The covers are made of thickly laminated paper so they withstand a lot of beating. Some people, I’ve seen, have claimed that the lamination starts to peel or can get an air bubble in it. I’ve yet to have the air bubble issue. I did have the back cover of my old one start to peel/separate a little by the end of last year, but it was barely noticeable. And considering all it’s use, I wasn’t that upset with it. The coiling is sturdy and doesn’t kink and each section of the planner is divided using laminated and reinforced tabs so they don’t bend or tear off. The quality is amazing!
The first page, when you open your planner, is an “All About Me” page. There is a place for your school info and for usernames and passwords. Obviously, I’ve covered up a lot of my info here for confidentiality purposes, but I usually fill this in on the random off-chance that I leave my planner somewhere by accident. I don’t plan on ever doing that, but accidents happen.
These next two pages I don’t really use. I don’t really have a purpose for them. I’m a counselor so we don’t have subs when we’re out and even as a teacher I would never leave this with a sub. So, these are really not used and I can’t seem to find an alternate use for them.
The next pages are common holidays to remember. I don’t really do a lot here, either. I’m in a high school, so a lot of these holidays don’t really apply to me and since I’m a counselor I’m not often tasked with creating holiday celebrations. It’s a nice reminder, but that’s about it.
After that, there is a spread for birthdays. Again, being a high school counselor, I have a few hundred students and I don’t really do much for birthdays that I need to write them down. So I used this as a personal birthday reminder. These are birthdays of the people close to me that I want to remember. And back before I decided to buy a horizontal planner, I was going to use my teacher planner as a school and personal planner so I wrote these all in here.
Next are 6 absent pages where teachers can track student absences and whether it was excused or unexcused. I do track absences if I feel a need to, but we have a computer program that does that for us, so writing it seems unnecessary. However, as the 11th and 12th grade counselor, one of my responsibilities is scheduling college rep visits from colleges/universities. So I plan on using this to track what schools are coming, the day and time they are coming and how many students sign up for their visits. I haven’t changed the header for this page and would like to, but my creativity is limited, which is why it still claims to be an absent log.
The next tab is a graph paper section. There are 6 pages of these, as well. Most teachers use this for seating arrangements, field trip planning, etc. I used this last year for AP Test seating arrangements, to help me sketch them out. I’ll also use them for PSAT testing seating arrangements as well.
Then, we come to the Year-At-A-Glance spread. As a counselor, there are certain things each month I need to take care of or do, so I like that I can lay it out in front of me to make sure that I’m on par with what I should be doing. Some months are busier than others and it’s easy to get side-tracked, so I like having this visible.
Once we get past some of the record keeping things, we then get into the monthly layouts. I just took a picture of one month to give you an idea of how I organize it. It’s a good visual for me to see what is going on throughout the month because we’re a very busy school. We have so many events all the time I need to know when I can schedule college rep visits or appointments with students, etc. As you can see, October is already really busy and will likely only get busier. Each month is separated by it’s own tab and each month section has a two page spread for the calendar, as you see, as well note pages behind it. I usually use those pages for faculty meeting notes or any other school-wife program meeting notes that I may have throughout the month. I don’t put student or parent meeting notes here. I keep those elsewhere.
Once past the month sections, you get into the bulk of the planner which are the lesson plan pages. The ordinary set up allows for seven subjects a day. Obviously, I’m not a teacher, so this is irrelevant to me. I decided to use my seven sections differently. I have broken my headings, as you see at the top, into:
Daily Events: This I use to remind me of daily events throughout the school and what letter day we are on. We have 8 day cycles, so I almost never know what letter day we are on without looking at a calendar. It’s hopelessly confusing if I don’t write it down.
Individuals: This I use as a list of students I know I need to meet with individually. Some students I see once a week/cycle, so this helps me make sure I see them. Some I just need to check in with for other reasons. This way I remember to make appointments as needed.
College Visits/Junior Seminar: This column will change between me remembering college visits in the fall and for objectives for the Junior Seminar class I teach (revolving around the college application process) in the Spring. This is the only section that changes since these two areas never occur at the same time in the school year.
Duty/Meetings: I use this to jot down when I have lunch duty, parent meetings, or meetings with other faculty members. I only have lunch duty once every 8 day cycle, so if I don’t write it down, I’ll forget.
Tasks/Planning: I use this to write down notes of things I need to accomplish during a specific day. If I need to write a letter or recommendation or do some paperwork, I’ll jot it down in this section.
Communication: I use this column to remind myself of phone calls or emails I need to send. If I tell a student I need to contact a parent, I’ll write down if I called or emailed and if I actually spoke to them or not here.
Personal: Again, I was originally going to use this planner as a school and personal planner, so this section was going to be for personal things I needed to do daily. I actually think I’ll mostly keep it for this. Just for birthday reminders and reminders of errands I need to run before or after school each day.
So I might not use every single box for every single day, but I used probably about 90% of all the boxes in each week last year.
As you can see, from above also, I just used cute washi to indicate a day when school was closed, this way I don’t accidentally confuse my days (because I’ve never done that before).
There are 40 weeks of lesson planning pages. I made the mistake last year of using a week in there for holiday breaks, so I was about a week or two short on pages at the end of the year. I didn’t do that again this year and just skipped those weeks entirely in the lesson pages. Doing that, I have exactly enough pages for the year, as should most people, more than likely.
Once you’ve past the bulk of the planner, then there are 7 checklist/grading pages. I don’t teach, but I do have a junior seminar class that I facilitate in the spring and I use three of these pages, one for each class section, to keep track of assignments they turn in as well as their class attendance. I also require juniors to schedule an appointment with me in the spring so that we can talk about college plans, so I use this area for that as well, to make sure they’ve scheduled and kept their college visit appointment.
In typical Erin Condren fashion, there are stickers in the back. As you can see, I do use these rather readily. I’m not huge on decorating my teacher planner, but I do like using the stickers she provides back here because my eye is immediately drawn to them. That can be a good thing when you need to remember meetings and special events.
There is also a double-sided pocket folder in the back. I usually keep faculty meeting and other meeting handouts here or professional development things I might need later here. I also have a few Snow Day stickers in here. I’m sure we’ll have snow days again. As always.
There is also a sheet protector (which you can order more) that I usually put random things in. Currently I have Devon’s school system schedule in there because he never remembers when he’s off and it’s easier for me to look than ask him.
Finally, there is also a small zipper pouch that I store little things in there. Like the date dots that I haven’t stuck on yet (and yes, my love of Krissyanne.com knows no bounds, just like in my Rose Gold Planner, her date dots make an appearance in my teacher planner). I have a few business cards in there as well. Never hurts to keep those around!
So that is how I use the teacher planner as a high school counselor. I realize that this might not work for everyone, but it does work really well for me and it keeps me really organized throughout the day and throughout the year.
If you’re interested in purchasing a Teacher Planner or any of Erin Condren’s adorable things, if you click through and use this link, you will receive $10 off your purchase! Happy Planning Everyone!!