Friday, January 1, 2016

Organization 101: Avoid the Sunday Planning Blues!

It's January 1st, which means everyone is setting New Years Resolutions for how to make their lives better in 2016.  Have you thought about what yours will be?  Many teachers I know are unorganized and scrambling to get things done in time - for whatever reason.  For me, I am naturally organized, and so is my classroom - so I have teachers in my building coming to me to help them get organized.

So, if teachers in my building are wanting organization tips - that must mean my sweet readers would too,  right?!?!?  I would love to start a series of organization tips that can help you get more organized - at school at least!

First up, how to avoid those dreaded Sunday afternoon planning blues.  Oh, you know them, and I used to too!  You settle down with your lesson plan book, school resources, and probably your laptop to get planned for the week.  You find some awesome activities that you have to make copies for - and you need them Monday morning - which means you are racing off to the copier Monday morning and probably have to wait in a line.  Don't start your week off stressed!

Let me help you do a little planning each day so that your weekends are last-minute-stress-planning-free and you can feel more organized!

My grade level plans together on Tuesdays while our kiddos are at specials.  As a grade level, we plan our phonics lessons/unit (Letterland) as well as our math lessons together.  For Language Arts, we try to cover the same topics and/or books each week, but that can fluctuate based on each classroom.

So, that means on Monday, I pull out my pacing guide and see what is on tap for Language Arts for next week.  I then grab my quarterly ELA binder with resources of TPT products I have purchased to use throughout the year and begin to make a plan for ELA for the next week.
Having a hard copy of my TPT resources in a binder (in sheet protectors), helps make it so much easier for me to see what I have and then I lay it out across my table by what day I'm going to use what.

Because some things, like our Letterland lessons are such a routine each week, I don't always fill in the boxes when I'm doing my initial planning - I just have to the change the unit number when I type my lesson plans.  D5 is Daily 5.  Our schedule is different each day because of our Recess/PE schedule, so I've got to make sure I get to the right place on time!

I pencil (or pen in) my ELA plans in my Erin Condren lesson planner and put my papers to copy in my "To Be Copied" basket for my next trip to the copy room.

Tuesday during my 2nd planning period, when my kiddos are at specials, I meet with my grade level to plan our phonics and math plans for the next week.

Once again, I am just penciling in my plans into my plan book, because later, I'm going to type them up and make them pretty!

Tuesday after school, I usually try to hit the copy room to get my copies prepped for the next week.  I am also the designated person on my team to do grade level copies, so I get those done then as well.  Now, let me say this - I am blessed that we are able to work it out on our team to have "carpool planning days" twice a week and I have a carpool parent help with my carpool duties in our school gym (we are a charter school - so we only have carpool!).  This is when I usually hit up the copy room - since most of the rest of the teachers are in the gym, I usually don't have many interruptions.

Either Tuesday night, or sometimes Wednesday during my planning, I get my lesson plans typed up into my Erin Condren Lesson Planner Template.  

So, my lesson plans go from looking like this...

When my typed lesson plans are done - they get trimmed and taped inside my plan book.
To this...

Now, I have pretty and organized lesson plans, plus I have a digital copy should I have to email my lesson plans in case of an emergency or for planning purposes next year.  Plus, ever since college - I've typed my lesson plans - so it's just my thing.

Here's a closer look at each page:

Wednesday is kind of my catch-up day, if needed.
I use Wednesday to finish up ELA plans if I didn't finish them on Monday, finish any copies I need to make, and check student papers (I'll blog about how to help you with that soon!).

Thursday is also a catch-up day.  Occasionally, if I'm feeling really caught up, like, I have nothing much to do (this doesn't happen very often!), I'll work on pulling and copying monthly resources (keep reading for more info on this).

Thursdays I also begin working on my weekly newsletter with HW for the week, need to know news, important dates, etc.

Friday - ahhh, I made it to the end of the week.  Friday afternoon, I have carpool planning again, so I get extra time in my room from 3-3:25, to get prepped for next week. 
A few years ago, I got a set of these book bins in the Target Dollar Section ($3 each then) and I use these to sort my papers for the week - by day.  During the week, when I may copies, I put them in the Next Week Box, which has a file folder for each day.  Copy, file in daily folders, and they are ready for me on Friday to move them to the correct box.

I then go to my awesome box in my closet where I keep my copies that I made "in bulk" (see below) and put them in the correct boxes, some around the room, prepped for things like Daily 5 for next week.

Once I get all of this sorted, I'm ready for next week, and it's not even leaving time yet on Friday afternoon.  We get out of school at 3PM, but are supposed to stay on campus until 4PM.

In recent weeks, I have been able to get my weekly newsletter finished and emailed out to parents on Friday afternoon before I leave for the weekend as well.  All these things I used to do on Sunday afternoons are no more!

Now, once in a while, I will stay late and have a date with the copy machine.
Since a lot of the teachers in my building are leaving around 4PM, I try to wait until then to head to the copy room for my massive copy session.

What kind of things do I copy "long-range"?
-Weekly comprehension passages for Daily 5
-Monthly mClass math practice booklets
-Monthly BAT (brains always thinking) booklets - my version of "I'm done, now what?" booklets - activities from Sunny Days in Second Grade

Now, when I get back to my classroom from my massive copy session, I file all my copies in this big box with weekly file folders (by quarter) so I have the papers on the weeks I need/want them.  Where'd I get this awesome box you ask - it's actually an ornament storage box(they call it a light box now) from Target.  It has a hinged lid and is perfect for file folders!  I have a few of these boxes all around my classroom - great for storing student files and my mClass reading assessments!

1.7 = Quarter 1, Week 7, followed by the dates.  I update these sticky note tabs towards the end of each quarter as I begin to prep for the next month/quarter and need a place to put my copies.

Here's to an organized new year!
Making resolutions with your kiddos when you return next week - I've got you covered!


  1. Allyson, Great blog post! I used to be more organized at school and at home, but lately it has been more difficult with all the extra duties and requirements that have been piled on our shoulders. I miss having that organization and routine.

  2. This is similar to what I've been trying to do this year so that I'm not in crunch mode on Sundays like I was the past two years running. I love how you've shown your plans, though--and the thought of team planning! We don't team plan everything, but the lessons we do are so much easier than when I was doing it alone. Thanks for a great post! I'm looking forward to more ideas in this series. :D