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It is that time of year again – where we make resolutions about how we can grow (or shrink) in the new year. This year I’m making a personal resolution and an educator resolution to be a better planner. Planning is key to every positive change we make, so this year I’m planning to plan. I’ve even putting it on my calendar.
I’ve made countless failed resolutions before. They were usually things like “I’m going to lose 20 pounds.” There was not a plan in place. There were no incremental steps involved. I was pretty much counting on pixie dust kicking in to make it happen.
This year, there are tons of things I would like to do better. I would like to exercise more and eat better. I would like to purposefully help my children more with preschool skills. I would like to stay on top of grading more. But none of these make up my official new year’s resolution.
Here is my official resolution for this year: “Each week I will spend 30 minutes purposefully planning my personal life and 30 minutes purposefully planning my educator life. I will use the Goals feature on my Google Calendar to track my progress.”
Did you like how I made that a SMART goal? Gold star!
Google Calendar Goals
This is my second post in a month about Google Calendar. (Here was my first). I assure you that I do not get any kind of compensation for promoting Google Calendar. I just find it to be an incredibly useful tool that helps me keep my life together.
Google Calendar has a feature called “goals” that I really love. This is going to be one of the keys to my “planning to plan” this year. The Goals feature schedules time on your calendar to meet your goal. If the time conflicts with another event, Google will automatically reschedule it for you. I used these to create weekly reminders to plan. Then I was able to change the time on the first event to a time that worked well for me and the calendar adjusted the time on all of the remaining events.
I set up my first goal from my phone using the Google Calendar app. Start by clicking “+” and then select “Goal.” The program carried me through a series of questions about the goal I was trying to set. I used the “Organize my life” option to set up my planning goals. There is a custom feature that allows you to name this goal whatever you would like. I set up separate planning goals for my personal life and my educator life.
Google Calendar initially set up my Class planning goal to take place on Saturday mornings at 11am. That is not going to work for me. I edited these to be on Fridays during my planning time.
How I will Use My Educator Planning Time
Effective teaching requires reflection and planning. Our extra class periods each day are called “planning periods” for a reason. Notice they didn’t call them “grading periods.” Grading is important, but not nearly as important as planning.
Planning is going to look a little different for each of us – particularly if you have a lesson plan template that you are expected to follow. If you have a template, allow that to be your guide.
For me, planning involves two phases. The pacing phase followed by the list phase.
I begin a planning session by checking my pacing. I look at each course to see if I am moving through the content at an appropriate pace. Am I on track to test when I had hoped to? Do I need to make any adjustments to my student’s Google Calendar? Have I made students aware of upcoming events? Are there any school events coming up that will interfere with my schedule?
Then I move to the list phase. I love a check list! My favorites are cute itemized notepads like this one. Here are just a few of the lists that keep me on track:
- What assignments need to be posted? (Particularly if you teach online or supplement your classroom with a website)
- What assignments need to be graded?
- Which students do I need to check in with?
- What activities need to be printed?
- What materials need to be set up?
That last one is a doozy for me. I have lab time on Tuesday that really needs to be set up before I leave on Monday. Can I tell you how often that slips my mind until the last minute? I spend Monday’s getting through Monday, let alone thinking about Tuesday. Now there is a reoccurring reminder on my Google Calendar asking me if I set up my lab yet. I’ve already reduced the number of mini-panic attacks I’ll be having in the new year.
Once I have these check lists in place, I’m ready to get to work. It is so satisfying to check those items off and know that you are getting things done.
How I will Use My Personal Planning Time
Step 1 to success for my personal planning time was getting my husband on board. We are doing our personal planning time together, one night a week after the kids go to bed. There are so many things we never get to discuss because we are surviving the work week and making sure the little people are taken care of. I’m bringing my paper calendar to this meeting. I love my Google Calendar for organizing my educator life, but the creative side of me still needs a pretty calendar that I can doodle on for my personal life.
We have chosen Wednesday night for our planning meeting because one of our goals is to meal plan. I usually have a chance to grocery shop on either Thursdays or Saturdays, so we set our planning meeting to be ahead of that time.
Other items that we will discuss include:
- Upcoming events.
- Household needs.
- Finances (We have a $50 rule. Anytime one of us plans to blow more than $50 on something, we discuss it. We almost always agree to it, but it majorly cuts down on impulse buying).
- Our soap business.
Bring On the New Year
Like many of you, this year was pretty tough on our little household. It taught me to keep putting one foot in front of another and to let go of worries outside of my control.
I have high hopes for the new year. My glass is half full and I have fun little goals all over my calendar helping to keep me on track.