One of my New Years Resolutions this year was to stop bringing work home with me. So far, I have done a pretty good job with this resolution. And if there is one thing that has made the biggest difference, it is scheduling my prep time.
Scheduling my planning time allows me to be as efficient as possible during my prep and planning time. Let me show you how I have used this trick to help keep me organized, on track and free from working on the weekends.
Setting Up My Planner
I have been adding my prep time to my planner for a few years now and it has been a great way to keep myself on track. But this year, I think that I have perfected my strategy for scheduling my prep time to make it work well for me.
At the start of the school year, I purchased a Plum Paper Planner because it allows me to create custom headings for my events. However, I have done this in the past with a $12 teacher planner that I purchased at Target and written my own headings.
In both cases, the planners were intended for elementary teachers with multiple subjects to teach. This is perfect because it gave me 6 (Target) or 7 (Plum Paper) separate sections. I currently teach 2 separate classes so this has given me room to schedule my prep time. Here is how I used each section:
- Morning Prep
- 7th Grade Science
- 7th Grade Standards Alignment
- 8th Grade Science
- 8th Grade Standards Alignment
- Prep Period
- After School Prep
Having only two separate classes this makes this a lot easier, but this is definitely not my norm. I will be teaching more next year and will just write down the Performance Expectation that I am covering when it changes.
Adding in the Meetings and Must Dos
The longer that I teach, the more meetings there seems to be. Right now I am averaging 3 meetings or 504/IEP meetings a week. Last week was a 4-day work week and I had SEVEN meetings.
I am also responsible for a few other random tasks that occur on a regular basis. For example, I have after school duty for 15 minutes every Tuesday. And I have to send out meeting agendas for science PLT at least 24 hours before our meeting.
I make sure to add all of the things that aren't all of the planning, prepping and grading that are essential for making my class function. This gives me a clear picture of how much planning time I will have in a week.
Block Scheduling Like Tasks During My Prep
Once I have a rough outline of what my week will look like, I block and schedule my prep with like tasks.
- Planning for 7th Grade
- Planning for 8th Grade
- Writing Materials
- Making Copies
- Meeting Planning and Prep
I create a tentative outline of what will happen in each class for about a week or so. This generally takes me a full prep period or more. I schedule this task during my earliest big block of time in a week. Generally, I do this on Monday and Tuesday for the following week.
Scheduling Prep Time in the Morning
My morning prep time is usually the shortest. My daughter is a student at my school, so getting both of us there is a challenge. I generally spend my AM prep time doing last minute prep, emails and short tasks from my to-do list.
I don't fill in this spot in my planner until the day before. This helps me decide what time I need to show up and if things get really crazy, I can ask my husband to bring my daughter to school so I can squeeze in a few larger tasks.