Time is so limited throughout the course of a school day, and you know how precious your planning time is. But do you ever get stuck in a doomsday scroll and next thing you know planning is over? Totally have been there- but take some of these tips to help make the most of your planning to have less take home work!
Prioritizing Tasks and Setting Goals
Effective planning starts with clear goals and prioritizing tasks. Set specific tasks you want to get done for each planning time. Write these out on a sticky note so you can cross it off as you go (we know how satisfying that is).
Use some behavioral momentum to help you decide which tasks to do first. If you are struggling with motivation, do some easy tasks like make copies before you tackle that parent email. Getting through a couple easy tasks build up that momentum you need to then tackle more daunting ones.
Utilizing Technology Tools
Embrace the power of technology to enhance your planning process. Explore a variety of tools that cater to lesson planning, resource organization, and collaboration. From online platforms to apps, technology can be a valuable ally in optimizing your planning time and increasing productivity.
My favorite? Google docs. I typically create a skeleton outline that reflects my day and then share it with my co teachers, paraprofessionals and therapy providers so we can all be on the same page!
Collaborative Planning and Resource Sharing
Consider the benefits of collaborative planning with your teaching team. Share resources, lesson plans, and ideas to reduce individual workloads. You don’t need to limit this just to your co teacher. Reach out to other special educators in other grade levels. Although their students are in different grades, they may be working on similar goals and have already prepped material you can borrow! I know I am always handing out my task boxes!
Time Blocking and Time Management Strategies
Explore the concept of time blocking to ensure focused and efficient planning sessions. Manage interruptions effectively and adopt time management strategies that work for you. I know sometimes you need to catch up on texts and notifications, but if you really want to get more work done at home try setting your phone for do not disturb for just part of the time of your planning.
I also suggest setting timers. Yep- what works for students also works for you! Then I do not get sucked into just laminating for the entire time (even though I would love to), but I get a little bit of laminating and a little bit of IEP writing done.
Even though you are trying to be more aware of your time management during planning- don’t be too hard on yourself when you just need that time to decompress. Some days in teaching are harder than others and it is okay to need to just reset during that time! But experiment with different strategies, adopt what works best for you, and don’t be afraid to adjust along the way. By finding your unique balance between efficiency and innovation, you’ll create a planning routine that sets the stage for successful teaching.p