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3 Teacher Planning Hacks

What does your teacher planning period look like? Do you grade frantically, shuffling a never ending stack of papers? Are you the type that has 30 tabs open with standards, unit objectives, and curricular materials as you set up lesson plans? Do you crash, spending your time unwinding until the next period, only to feel more overwhelmed?

Most people do not know how much pressure can come with a teacher planning period. Many of us do not get one due to overloading course schedules, or our planning gets interrupted by a multitude of administrative interruptions, parent concerns, surprise meetings, and other distractions.

Therefore, it is vital to make the most of every minute we do get in planning. Our time is constantly under attack. Use these 3 hacks to maximize your teacher planning time.

Movement

I learned early on that a lack of movement was a huge stressor during planning. I poured over my computer, rushing through task after task without moving. Soon, my classroom felt claustrophobic. My productivity dwindled as I was glued to my chair.

Movement became an easy fix. I created a habit of checking my mailbox during my planning period. I did this even if I had previously walked by it and knew it was empty. The point was to walk the campus, get out of my room, and away from the looming, endless work.

A fresh perspective leads to higher productivity. Spend five to ten minutes of your planning period walking, moving, and getting out of your own space. It will feel refreshing!

Snacking

Snacking is a vital part of our health as teachers. Some years saw me having lunch at 9:45 AM, while other years made me wait until 1:30 PM for a lunch break. Your schedule, like mine, may vary annually. Relying on your lunch period means that you will often go long periods of time without food, a necessary source of energy.

A mistake that I made in my first years were to rely on cheap, easy snacks. Pop tarts, candy, and junk food became my go to foods as I could eat them in between periods. Health, happiness, and energy levels suffered.

Your teacher planning time is an important time to recharge with healthy foods. No amount of paperwork is worth skipping meals and forgoing these positive habits. Take a break to make a real snack and energize yourself. Then, focus on your paperwork.

Passions

What do you love about teaching? Your answer needs to be a part of your teacher planning period. It is so easy to become ultra-focused on completing tasks that you forget to fuel your teaching fire.

I began incorporating passions into my teacher planning time and immediately noticed results. The implementation was simple. For five to ten minutes, I would explore a teaching related passion. Some days, it would be time spent mentoring students with quick check-ins. Others, I would look up Youtube videos (Here’s one of my favorite series) or articles on interesting novels.

Whatever you love about teaching, make sure it finds it’s way into your planning time. If you limit each period to the simple completion of tasks, you will always feel burdened and slowed down. A passion pursuit will make the time feel worthwhile and give you continuous forward motion.

Teacher Planning Success

Incorporate these three tips and your planning period will become more productive. These three tips can be completed in the span of 10-20 minutes, yet your remaining planning time will be that much more valuable and efficient.

Do not make the mistake of ignoring your needs and growth to get one more thing done. Unfortunately, teachers know that there will always be one more thing. We are here to thrive, not simply to survive. Happy planning!

Read next: “Rule Your Class Like Hitler,” & Other Bad Teaching Advice

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