Why am I planning when I’m not a teacher?
I may not be a teacher in the conventional sense these days, but I still spend a lot of my time teaching. I also spend a lot of time in schools and colleges so working in academic years works much better for me than trying to work with calendar years.
This time of year is crazy in schools here in the UK. As everyone starts to wind down towards the summer holidays there is a complicated mix of activity and lethargy. Even as a parent the never ending list of additional extras gets tiring; sports day, summer fair, leavers, disco, special assembly, end of year play… there seems to be something almost every day! As a teacher of course that is amplified because you are organising it all not just turning up.
For me though it is perfect. It gives me a few weeks at the end of my working year to look back on what I have achieved and start to plan the coming year. A big part of my “why” is being there for my children so having time off with them over the summer is really important to me. I still do some work but it is mainly planning, writing and keeping everything bubbling ready for September.
So, July is my planning month. I love it! Stationery out, new diary, new planning file and of course always new pens! Then I start to dream of all the things I would like to achieve over the coming 12 months.
Planning for change
This year is going to be a big one for me personally so I have to make sure I allow myself time to process all the huge changes happening.
My daughter is going into Y11 so will be sitting her GCSEs at the end of this academic year, my son is going into Y6 so he has SATs and will be leaving Primary School. My babies are all grown up and if you have been through this transition yourself you will appreciate that this can take some getting used to.
It also means that next year when I am planning I won’t have to take into account the hour and a half a day that I spend doing the school run at the moment. For the first time in 12 years I will be able to do a full working day every day!
For me it is really important to plan, not just for work events and changes but to incorporate any significant personal events and changes too. So next May I will be allowing myself time to fully embrace the Real Full Monty 2020 experience.
When I say I will be allowing myself time, what I mean is that I will plan to do more in the weeks before so that I can have more time during the experience. When I am planning I try to sit with all the events I know about in advance (of course there are countless that I can’t predict at this point!) and make everything work as best I can.
For the last few years I have used a combination of paper and technology to help me stay organised. I use a bullet journal which I have designed to suit my needs for my weekly planning/notes about resources/ideas for talks and training etc. I have a wall planner, which again I have designed so that it has everything I need it to. This has the whole year planned out in highlights; significant dates, what resources I could create and my top three priorities for each month. I also have to use the calendar on my phone so that my husband knows where I am going to be and whether he needs to step in and do school runs/cook etc.
I also have a file where I document all the statistics I need for the business side of my business; social media stats, subscription targets etc.
The thing I love doing most at this time of year though is my vision board. For me this is a creative joy. I sit for a while in meditation thinking about my goals and what I want to achieve. Then I start a Pinterest board where I collect images of things that I want to represent. Then I use Photoshop to put all the images together into one page.This then becomes my screen saver for the year and I print one copy off for the wall over my desk.
Now I appreciate that this may seem a little bit woowoo for some of you but I am a big believer in the power of attention and intention.
When we concentrate on something we can bring it into our lives. Which is why it is so important that we choose to focus on positive things. (I talk about this in my post on Gratitude) So, by putting images of things I want to achieve in places that I look often and can really focus on those dreams and objectives I am putting energy into the things I really want. It might sound crazy but I have achieved I would say 75% of the objectives on my vision boards over the last few years. Some of the images on there were total pipe dreams when I added them; trips to countries I had no intention of going, cars I couldn’t even dream of affording… and within months they were a reality.
Don’t ask questions, just try it!
As you can see, there is a mix of work and personal aims on my board. This year probably more personal than work. I’m not even slightly worried by this though because I know that by caring for me as a person my business always flourishes more too. This is something that as teachers it is often hard to appreciate and achieve. When we care for ourselves and put ourselves first everyone around us benefits.
When we take time away from work to look after our physical and mental wellbeing we always return to work feeling refreshed, more enthusiastic and we do a much better job of the task in hand.
When you are planning your classroom do you think about how this environment will impact you as well as your class?
You will spend more time in your classroom than anyone else.
Do you like the way it looks? I love Instagram and follow a lot of teachers from all over the world (please do add me if you haven’t already, I will follow you back and we can get to know each other!). Because teachers in the US are currently enjoying their Summer break I love seeing all the amazing preparation they do over the holidays. Unlike here in the UK many teachers in the US provide the furniture for their classrooms. They also have more license to decorate their classrooms and make them really personal to them. Some of them are incredible. If you don’t know what I’m talking about have a look at some images online.
I know that it is a lot of work creating these amazing spaces, but they benefit from being in an environment they really love too.
I spend a lot of time in my office. It is a converted garage that is attached to the house. When I first claimed it as my office it was painted plum and had a real mix of furniture in there. We have to have a sofa bed for guests (we have lots of family who live a distance away so have many guest bed options for when they all descend at once!) and for years I tried to manage with second hand furniture and bits and bobs I could make work. Then for my 40th birthday my husband treated me to all new furniture for my office, right down to my chair. I repainted in grey and navy and it is now my favourite room in the house. I come in here to meditate. Love working in here and it is all completely me.
When I am in my office I feel happy and contented and the work I have created over the last 3 years has been so different to anything I created before that point. I feel like a capable professional in my beautiful office. It isn’t always tidy but it is always mine.
Your classroom should make you feel like that.
Maybe you can have a theme for your classroom this year, something that you really love. It might be a colour or a motif. Maybe you want to rearrange the furniture but by the time it gets to the holidays you never have the energy.
Planning for you
As teachers it is easy to think that everything in the classroom has to be about the children and their learning. It is also your workspace. It should feel comfortable and reflect you a little bit too. The children love getting to know you as a person better. So if your classroom is covered in flamingoes because they are your favourite animal, they will love that and you will too.
When you do your planning for school, do you treat yourself to new notebooks, pens and a planner with personality? Do you just use whatever you can find in the stock room at the end of the year? I used to get bargain basement essentials and then wonder why I didn’t enjoy planning, and creating. Since I started treating myself to planners, pens and notebooks I love it is a joy working every day. It sounds so silly but it can make such a difference to how you feel.
So when you sit down to plan the coming year, plan mindfully. Plan for you as well as the children. Let’s make planning fun!