All great teachers are supported by a backbone of good planning. Planning allows us to access our creativity, share our knowledge, and build effective learning goals. Without planning, teaching all too easily becomes about responding and reacting.
There are many layers to teaching, from the lesson itself to the planning, to planning to plan, to changing the plan, and so on. Spreadsheets and online files are good, but there’s still nothing quite like writing things by hand. So how do you make plans that work for you?
A good planner lessens stress and makes planning fun. Not all planners are created equal. A good one is easy to use, has adequate spacing, and a layout that makes sense and fits in your teacher bag. I’ve rounded up some of the best ones, to work for teachers of all personalities. From the basic to the advanced, you’re sure to find a planner to suit your needs.
Best Planners for Teachers Reviews
The Blue Sky Teachers weekly and monthly lesson planner is easy to use at a glance. There’s a simplicity to its layout that manages to cover all the basics without any confusion. With the days already numbered, in no time at all you can have this planner set up.
The weekly planner section is stacked vertically, with each day stretching across the double page. A glance across shows you exactly what is planned for the week, and where each class may progress. There’s plenty of space to write every important notice you can think of. This is an incredibly practical layout, and the design makes it easy to adapt to whatever works best for you.
The monthly view is comprehensive while remaining simple. Across the two pages each day is spacious for planning, without losing the full picture of the month.
Any prepared teacher will appreciate the addition of the next month’s reference, which makes advanced planning even easier. Major holidays are listed, and there’s a space for notes. It even has motivational quotes, for that extra bit of inspiration.
Blue Sky has added a few extras to really make this planner an all-around essential. The weekly activities schedule is particularly useful for busy teachers, as is the class birthday pages. Extra note sections make the planner versatile for daily use, and the list of all major holidays saves a headache.
Lightweight and durable, this is a planner that can be carried around daily without falling apart or weighing your bag down. Many of us find our planners an indispensable item, so they have to withstand regular usage. Blue sky does that without the bulk.
For a teacher who plans progressively, the Blue Sky planner has an intuitive layout. A scan down the page will show how a lesson can be built to adapt to the previous day.
- Vertical weekly planner – The stacked planning is perfect for planning progression.
- Monthly calendar – Clear and comprehensive forward planning, with note space and next month reference.
- No extras – There are a lack of features, making this a fairly basic planner.
The simplicity of the Elan lesson planner is its greatest feature. The clarity in design makes detailed planning a breeze, so busy days feel a little less rushed.
The weekly planner is where this notebook shines. 5 days are listed horizontally, and 7 periods vertically. With just a glance you can see exactly what you have that day, and how it compares to the rest of the week.
There are enough additional features to the Elan lesson planner to keep a teacher organized. The daily schedule acts as a basic tracker, letting you know where you need to be, and where you might be going.
The seating chart guides are comprehensive without wasting space, as are the student data plan pages. An at-a-glance September through June calendar makes recording important dates easier than ever.
The additional 10 spaces for comprehensive planning are an added bonus, alongside the spaces for classroom procedures and ‘need to know’ information. This means you can pass this planner over to a substitute and relax knowing they can get on with the job.
Efficiency seems to be the guiding principle of this Elan planner. There’s no excess space, no wasted pages.
Of course, with this streamlined approach there are some things missing. Only 40 weeks are included, so not enough to cover school holidays.
If you want a lesson planner that can double up as an everyday planner, the Elan isn’t suitable. There are no monthly planning pages either, so any long term overview is reduced. This is a teacher’s planner that works for teaching.
- Simple format – Easy to use at-a-glance, and allows for detailed planning.
- Lightweight – Transportable, but still durable.
- Not dated – Better for those who want a flexible planner.
- Fewer pages – With efficiency comes cutbacks, and the Elan only covers 40 weeks.
There is little that hasn’t been covered in the Erin Condren planner. From the dated weekly spreads to the wipe clean whiteboard style cover, this is a planner to do everything.
Erin Condren understands teachers need to think on multiple levels. The mini monthly calendars combine with the dated monthly calendars for detailed planning and forward-thinking.
Add on the weekly spreads and the monthly note sections, and you have a planner that allows you to move forward and stop to reflect.
The weekly spreads are stacked vertically, with space for 6 periods and an additional note-taking space. These are clearly divided, for that extra touch of organization.
While this does have its benefits, I can find the floating boxes to be a little too constrictive. However, the spacious layout makes for a clear and easy to read schedule.
Allows for Monthly & Weekly Planning
There are no complaints about the monthly spread, which gives an immediate overview stretched across double pages. Each month comes with a note section, and a next month reference.
Even better, each month finishes with a double page spread for note-taking. This can be used for planning progression, or as a space for reflection before moving forward.
If there is a problem with this planner, it’s that it can feel more like a general planner than teacher specific. While the checklist pages and communication log are useful, there’s no seating charts, and the lack of a yearly planner seems like an oversight. However, the wipe clean cover is a nice touch, allowing for a checklist without wasting paper.
If you find your scattered thoughts can hold you back in lesson planning, the Erin Condren planner is clear and comprehensible.
- Multiple monthly calendars – For detailed days and forward planning.
- Wet erase laminate cover – Create a daily checklist that can be erased.
- Durable – It can withstand daily use without damaging.
- Bulky – All those additional pages make it less portable than other options.
Almost every teacher struggles to make time for themselves, but the Clever Fox daily planner tries to rectify this. Clever Fox wants to help you increase productivity, but also increase happiness. So much they even offer it as a guarantee. If you aren’t happy with your planner it can be refunded, no questions asked.
As a daily planner, there’s ample room in the Clever Fox to cover everything you need, or want, to get done in a day. There’s space to set goals and priorities, a ruled square to design your schedule, and a gap to rate your day. At the end of the week there’s a page to review your accomplishments, for a better mindset heading forward.
Because everything is divided up by the day, there isn’t the weekly spread you may expect. Instead, each week begins with a page dedicated to goal setting and to-do lists.
Combine Work & Personal in 1 Place
As well as scheduling school days, this space is used to keep track of personal projects. It even has a life balance to-do list, so you don’t burn out.
Without the weekly spread, the monthly planner does need to take the weight of bulk thinking. Monthly is a standard double page spread, but it also leaves space for goals and achievements. Again, Clever Fox are thinking of that work/life balance so many of us are missing.
The extra features of the planner are targeted towards self-improvement. This is an adaptable planner, so there aren’t teacher specific pages such as seating charts and student trackers.
Instead, there’s a vision board, and a space to write your major goals. At the back are extra grid pages, which can be used for any number of purposes.
Clever Fox certainly is a clever design, and it’s made of high-quality materials. It doesn’t have the tailored features of a lesson planner, but the ample room makes it flexible for many uses.
- Daily planner – For detailed descriptions of what every day will hold.
- Work/Life focus – This planner encourages you to take care of yourself.
- Undated – Without dates, this comprehensive planner can work best for you.
- 6-month coverage – Not a full year planner, so more expensive.
- Not teacher specific – It lacks some features standard in a lesson planner.
If you’re anything like me, your home is filled with old paper notebooks. They’re full of thoughts and plans that are a ‘just in case’ reassurance. More often than not, they’re kept for a few years before being trashed.
The Rocketbook aims to fix this problem, and integrate handwritten notes with computer technology. Rather than using paper, the Rocketbook is made up of 32 dotted grid pages of synthetic material.
Using a Pilot Frixion pen, you can write your notes just like you would in a normal planner. Unlike other wipe clean boards, the pen doesn’t smudge. Your notes stay clear and legible until you need to get rid of them. Then, simply use water to wipe the page clean.
If you think that sounds interesting but don’t like the idea of wiping away your notes, then don’t worry! The Rocketbook allows you to save them forever by storing them online.
Scan and store using the Rocketbook app, and then upload to whatever file hosting site you prefer. You can even search, using sophisticated AI technology.
A Different Kind of Planner
Rocketbook is very different from other types of planners, but this flexibility can be a plus. With multiple pages you can save weeks of scheduling, scanning as you go, and erase at the end of term.
If you’ve been working remotely, or have remote students, then the easy share application of the Rocketbook is a game changer. Even for non-remote students, transferring pages of notes is simple compared to tedious transcribing.
The major flaw of the Rocketbook is that it doesn’t have any framework in place. Should you use it solely as a weekly planner, it would require laboriously drawing on the divisions. However, once you’ve got the hang of it you’re able to quickly integrate handwritten notes with online documents.
Rocketbook may not be the future of planning, but it’s certainly an exciting development.
- Reusable – Technically, a Rocketbook could be the only notebook you ever need.
- Multipurpose – Not just a planner.
- Integrated technology – Upload your handwritten notes quickly alongside your online documents.
- No framework – Each page is a dot grid format, so you need to draw your own weekly schedule.
Dated or undated
Dated planners have the days of the year already printed onto the page. Undated planners have a gap for you to fill in yourself.
While a traditional dated planner will run from January through to December, an academic planner will follow the dates of the school term. Some start as early as May, where others won’t start until December.
A dated planner will be specific to the year. The major advantage of this is time saving. With the dates included, you don’t have to write them in yourself.
It can also show you when major holidays are coming up. The disadvantage is they’re less flexible, and have to be used for the year they were purchased.
An undated planner will have the general calendar, but the specific dates won’t be filled in. This makes it a more flexible planner, as you can start it whenever you like, and even skip out weeks that aren’t relevant. The downside is filling in the dates is time-consuming work.
The layout of the planner is perhaps the most important feature, and also the most personal. What you choose will depend on how you like to organize yourself. It can take some trial and error to find something you’re comfortable with.
The layout refers primarily to how the year is broken up. This could be daily, weekly, monthly, or a full year. Most planners will feature a combination of options, generally weekly or monthly, and may still have a yearly calendar.
Daily planners tend to have less space for weekly planning, as the day-to-day section is so comprehensive. Many teachers prefer weekly, for the overview it provides.
Within this division there are different layouts. For a weekly planner, each week will often take two pages. They could be stacked vertically, or arranged horizontally, and perhaps broken into periods. This is ideal for scheduling a day with multiple classes.
The detail of each planner varies. Where some will have clear division, others allow for more flexibility.
Other than the day-to-day scheduling, a planner will probably come with a few additional pages. These may be just for note-taking, or they can have a specific purpose. Teacher’s planners can come with sections for seating plans, student grading, or even attendance.
Other features may be additions to the planner itself. Good tabs are essential for easy navigation, and a storage pocket has versatile uses.
There are a few key areas to look for quality in a planner: the paper, the binding, and the cover. The paper quality is incredibly important. It needs to be thick enough that the pen won’t bleed through, and hold up to highlighter.
The majority of planners have ring binding, as it allows for easiest page turning. However, if ring binding breaks, your planner will never be the same.
Cover is a matter of personal choice, but it should be thick enough to withstand regular usage. Many people prefer laminate as it’s wipe clean, but other hard-wearing options are just as good.
Frequently Asked Questions
What should a teacher planner include?
The most important thing in a teacher planner is room to write a schedule. This may be large enough for detailed lesson plans, or a forward-thinking overview. Many teachers prefer a combination of both.
Other useful extras include a space for seating plans, a class list, student grading, and contact details.
Should I use a paper or digital teacher planner?
The best planner is always a matter of personal preference. The advantages of a paper planner is the ability to change and add, combined with easy note-taking. Many simply find hand writing plans the easiest way to work.
A digital planner has the advantage of better structure and order. However, some find them less useful for creative expression.
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