I know, I know, it’s summer! What could I possibly have to say about teaching during summer, right? Everyone knows teachers only work 180 days each year, so they have 8-12 weeks (depending on the school system) to just sit around, watch Netflix and eat bon bons, right?
Of course, anyone who has ever been a teacher knows this is complete bunk. In the nearly 20 years since I became a teacher I’ve never gone more than a few days without doing something school related. Even during my beach vacation last week, I was answering emails from my newspaper students, helping to facilitate the changes the new editors want to make for the upcoming year as well as coming up with a working production schedule that will actually mean the first day of school articles will be ready to be uploaded to the online newspaper, which, of course, means I’ll be spending the last few weeks of my summer “break” reading and editing student articles. And all of this work is in addition to the real work I do every summer: planning for next year.
Even though it is amazingly tedious making sure that all the ideas I have swirling around in my head to make my English classes ones that students not only want to take and will help them succeed in the real world, but also line up with all of the state standards, I actually like creating lesson plans. I am particularly proud of the Essential Questions research project I have restructured my AP Language and Composition class around, but that’s not what my mind is on today.
Today I’ve been psyching myself up to really start planning for next year. I dug out my lesson plans from last year and started glancing through them, just refreshing my mind and making note of what I want to change the next time around. I know it is a big misconception outside the educational world, but most teachers are constantly changing their lesson plans. I know few teachers who teach the same material, the same way year after year. As everyone else in my department LOVES to point out, I am a veteran teacher (they call me grandma–even though my oldest just hit double digits this year) and I haven’t taught the same class twice, in, well ever. In order to start lesson planning, I need something to plan in.
For the last several years, I’ve used paper calendars like the one in the picture above. It takes a bit of time, but it’s very simple to augment and print out Word calendars for each of my courses and use those boxes to get my general planning done. I can see an entire grading period in a very easy glance, which I really like. However, right before the end of the school year, one of my colleagues (and a good friend to boot) showed me her very lovely Erin Condren lesson planner. And I got very jealous. Yes, that’s right, lesson plan books are actually the items teachers covet (we also get obscenely happy about back to school shopping–it’s a sickness really).
If you’re a teacher and you haven’t seen these planners before, I suggest you immediately click on the link I’ve provided and take a gander. Go ahead, my blog will still be here when you get back. Although, if you’re like me, that might be a few hours from now as there are so many fun options to pick from.
I really, really want one of these cool planners. But they are $55 each AND in order to be really useful to me it would need to be a lesson planner/grade book. The website does offer checklist pages, which could be used as a grade book, but the planner only comes with 7. I can add 21 more of them for an additional $10, but even that would not be enough pages to cover all six of my classes (plus attendance tracking) during all four of our grading periods. It seems pretty clear that these planners, while spectacular, are really aimed more at elementary teachers. The events/volunteer pages, absentee log, stickers and grid pages seem to back this theory up. If they are meant for middle and high school teachers, they aren’t very functional for teachers on block scheduling.
I know this is probably the smallest teaching upset I will have in the coming school year. I know it’s a bit of a silly thing to be annoyed about, but like I said, I take my school supplies pretty seriously and this one looks super cool. I know it is far more practical to use my free Word calendar pages and one of the half dozen or so $1 grade books I bought at the Target Dollar Spot a few years back. I know that the money I’ll save by not buying this really cool planner will be spent on a myriad of other supplies I need for my classroom but my school cannot provide. I know all of this, but I can’t help it…I want the fancy planner.