How I Use My Planner
Many school districts require teachers to complete online lesson planning, turn in their lessons, or use a collaborative format for lesson planning as a grade levels. The districts in which I have taught have all required one of these options. For this reason, a traditional lesson planner (like the Erin Condren Lesson Planner) wouldn’t be the best fit for me. Right?
I use my lesson planner as a meeting notebook and data tracker. I need something to keep notes in. My “go to” source of information. That is my planner. If you have ever struggled with using your planner fully, this post is for you.
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There are over 50 different cover options for your Erin Condren Lesson Planner. Each one of these has customizations that you can make which allows you to create a design that is completely unique to you.
This year I used one of their new designs, Alphabet Teacher. I customized it by changing the green chalkboard-like background to a black background. I like it a lot. I think I would love it if the background was white. I should have tried more options before deciding.
The insides are all the same; based upon that years theme. I really wish the inside theme matched the cover but alas it never has. When you order from the Erin Condren Website you are given many options to customize include name, school name, coil color, page additions, and accesories.
Let’s take a look at what you need, what you don’t, and how I use this to have the most organized year ever.
Inside the Planner
The front cover is made of 10m laminate which is one of the reasons I love my Erin Condren Planner. It wipes clean which means it looks nice all year long! Both the inside of the front and back covers is a blank dashboard.. perfect for use with a dry erase marker. This will help you cut down on lost sticky notes.
In the Path to Passionate Teaching, we talk about limiting what we do each day by creating a list of tasks to accomplish during our office hours. I was using a form I created, but the Erin Condren Teacher Dashboard is a great alternative. It too is 10m laminate and can be used with dry erase markers.
The one pictured is the Green Apple Teacher Dashboard. It has room for copies, contact, buy, grade, and future items. This is perfect for me and limits the amount I can add. This is an accessory that I highly recommend.
Events & Volunteers
This page gives you a space to record the name and contact information for classroom volunteers. I collect this information on Backpack Night (aka Meet the Teacher) and add it here. This way I always have it with me and do not lose it.
After this is a place to record events for the year. During my long term planning session over the summer, I plan out the celebration dates for my classroom parties. This allows me to plan in advance what I need and when. I do not include holidays or birthdays in this area.
This is the section to record your name, phone number, and email. I also add the school mailing adress for quick referencing. In addition, there is a place for curriculum resources and passwords for websites. This is a quick reference guide that I use frequently.
When teachers see a communication log, they think parents. Wrong. I have an alternative way for tracking my conversations with parents. I use this log for communication with colleagues and administration. Genius Idea! I know!
My first year, I sat in a meeting with my principal knowing I had talked to him about this student before. He wanted to know when and where. I looked at him like he should remember. I never made that mistake again. Now I have a quick log. It will simply have person I talked to, date/time, and topic. Details are recorded elsewhere.
Grid paper usually makes one think of seating charts or at least it does me. I, however, use this as a map of my classroom. I have a top overview and then will have one of each of the walls. This allows me to design my room and create a shopping list for my room. It also helps when it is time to set up. I know where everything goes.
Want to know more about my room plan? Check out this post (Coming Soon).
A 2-page spread with 6 months on each page. Looks like the perfect place to plan for birthdays and such, right? You could but I use this section for Professional Development.
In this section, I list all of the meetings, webinars, seminars, and courses I take. Books, articles, and other resources that I have found. In my state, I am required to enter my PD hours for recertification as I obtian them. This helps me make sure I have everything entered.
I use the monthly 2-page spread as a “desk-top” calendar. This is usually open on my desk and includes all of my commitments both personal and professional.
I include date nights with my husband, football games and practices for my son, the high school play my other son is in, doctor visits, weekend outings, school events, pay days, and more. Anywhere I need to be… it is on this calendar. This lets me know when I can commit to an activity and when I cannot.
This is where I also record my student birthdays so that I do not forget them.
I love cute planner stickers. You will find a lot of these on the monthly spread. Want to know my favorite places to find stickers? Check out this post (Coming Soon).
Monthly Planning Pages
Before the monthly calendar is this 2-page spread for monthly planning notes. There is a quote to keep you motivated, a spot for monthly goals and then a lot of room for notes.
I take notes in meetings on a separate page and then transfer anything I “must remember” to this section. This way I can toss out the extra details I don’t need. It creates a good record of things for the year.
Don’t forget to write the meeting date on the yearly calendar.
In the goal section, I list centers I need to create, anchor charts to make, things I want to read, my health goal of the month, and my Path to Passionate Teaching habit that I am creating for the month. It is a great way to keep me focused.
Teacher Authors: Looking for Blog Topics? I use my monthly goals list to help guide what I will write about next.
Weekly Lesson Plans
Every month is its own unique color. You can easily see where one month ends and the next begin. There is room for 6 subjects at the top and a note section on the side.
I use this area to collaborate with my team mates on what we are teaching and when. This is a “checklist” of things that will be covered that week. It will guide and shape my lessons plans when I write them. This is also what I use to refer to throughout the day to make sure I am covering all of the things I wanted to.
In the notes section, I record all of the materials that I will need for the week. This allows me to easily know what I need to have ready for that week.
When I am setting up my planner for the school year, I go through each weekly page and write notes under the date. This will tell me if its a student’s birthday (second reminder), a holiday, an early release, or some other event. Remember when I talked about my long term planning for classroom parties, I list these here. As more events are announced, I add them in.
Why take the time for this? When I am planning with my colleagues, I know at a glance when the fire drill is going to mess with plans. I know when I need to make time to decorate for a holiday or when I am need to prep for a test. I can also add this to my materials list.
The Erin Condren Planner comes standard with 7 checklist pages and you can customize your planner to have 14, 21, or 28 checklist pages. My current planner has 21 pages. This has seem to be the perfect amount for me. 28 was too many and 14 left me wishing for more. I tend to have 1 or 2 pages left over at the end of the year.
These pages are the key to keeping me sane throughout the year. These hold all of the information I need. These pages hold the answers to questions I am asked but most people thinkk I won’t have the answer too. Wrong! It is all right here.
What to see what I track with these checklist? Check out this post (Coming Soon).
The Erin Condren Planner comes standard with 1 page protector. You can add-on an additional 2 more. You need 2 more. I would prefer 5 total but alas I am stuck with 3.
Remember, my planner is my go-to resource for all things throughout the year. As this is spiral bound so that it will lay flat, you can’t add things into. The page protectors resolve this issue.
What should I keep in my pages? The answer to this depends upon your needs. Below is how I set up mine and the order in which they appear.
- Parent Contact Information
- Colleague Contact Information
- Emergency Procedures
- ELA Standards (1 Page Cheat Sheet for my grade level)
- Math Standards (1 Page Cheat Sheet for my grade level)
- District Calendar
What else would I add? Student Passwords, Current Seating Chart, Community Resources (from our District Psychologist), and Testing Goals pages. Ahh… if only!
Each Erin Condren Lesson Planner comes with a 2 pockets. They are back to back and made of a thick card stock. I will add store forms I need to complete here as well as my IEP at a glance forms.
I try not to keep letter sized notes here as they have a tendency to bend. Anything that is smaller goes in and stays in nicely.
The Planner Folio is a very think cloth organizer and cover for your planner. It helps keep things in and not falling out of these pockets. However, I think the quality is lacking and do not recommend purchasing.
Also pictured are the Teacher sticky notes. This is another accessory that you can purchase. They are super cute and on the expensive side. They are not very sticky and I am often using tape to keep them in place. I do not recommend purchasing these.
I LOVE my planner! It is hands down the best tool on the market. The cost is consistent with other planners of this type. You can get something cheaper but it just doesn’t have everything you will need.
The planner accessories sold by Erin Condren have always left me with buyers remorse. The price for the accessories is high and the quality low. The pens were dull and dried out quickly. The stickers just aren’t as cute or funtional as I have found on Etsy or the local craft store. With the acception of the dashboard I mentioned earlier, save your money and shop elsewhere.
I highly recommend purchasing an Erin Condren Lesson Planner and have it on my top 9 things a teacher needs list. In addition to all the things I listed above, my planner acts as a portfolio of my accomplishment over the course of the year.
I have also taken my planner to an interview before. I was able to show them how I plan, when I plan, and how I manage all the things. This was a great visual and helped to guide our discussions.