planning time

How To Make the Most of Your Planning Time

Secondary Spanish teachers get about 45 minutes of planning time a day. It’s never enough!!! So many teachers spend HOURS outside of the school day working.

Who do you know that can respond to emails, fill out PPT forms, plan, copy, correct, return phone calls and maybe, just MAYBE even go to the bathroom in 45 minutes??

When my children were born, I thought that my life was busy.

Now that they’re 16 and 14, I have almost no free time after school to continue working. They have sports, doctor’s appointments, homework, and we all need to eat! It’s 8:30 before I am finally collapsing on the couch. And by then, I’m so tired. Schoolwork is not a possibility.

Does this sound familiar?

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So How To Make the Most of Your Planning Time?

I’ve tried it all! But I finally think that I have a system that works! Keep reading to find out how to use every minute of your planning time for maximum productivity.

Create a System!

For me, there is nothing more stressful than feeling unprepared. The thought of needing the copier at 7 am to be ready to teach gives me a twitch! Not knowing what I’m teaching the next day? No. Not for me. Here is my system for how to make the most of your planning time!

Here is my system.

  1. Create a computer template for your lesson plans. (Go to the Free Resource Library page to get yours!) Every teacher has different requirements for how detailed their plans need to be. But having a template on your computer saves the time of re-creating your weekly document. It also allows you to save your work for quick edits or for the next year! I save a lot of time not recreating the wheel!
  2. I create lesson plans for each course for one entire week. Monday through Friday. Step by step. Each day. My Monday planning period is the time I use to write out exactly what I will do for each course.
  3. Next, create a system for yourself that tells you what you need to create, what you need to copy, and what is all set and ready to go. Spend the rest of Monday and Tuesday’s planning period creating anything you need. * See Photos
  4. Wednesday is that day you get everything ready. Take your creations to the copier and copy everything you need for the coming week. Or, after the year of the pandemic, maybe you’ve moved online. Schedule everything you need to post on your Google Classroom or other learning management platform.

Here’s the Magic!

The “underline” tells me that I have to create this.
The circle tells me that the activity is created, but I have to print it out.
The check let’s me know that it’s copied (or posted) and fully ready to use! No more wondering if I ever actually got something ready to use!

Now BREATHE! You are completely ready for the next week!

What To Do On Thursday and Friday?

Thursday and Friday are now a blank canvas for planning time! I use these days to correct, enter grades, catch up on paperwork, etc. I find it so much easier to concentrate on grading when I know that everything I need to teach is ready to go.

Tips for Success For How To Make the Most of Your Planning Time

-Stick to ONE task at a time. Don’t allow yourself to check your email in the middle of lesson planning, for example.

There are so many times that I checked an email…. and it got me emotional. The next thing I know, I’ve spent 30 minutes of my planning time creating the perfect reply or finding a colleague to tell about the email I just received!

When I know my goal for each planning period, I’m not taken down any rabbit holes because I know just what I need to do each day!

-Be strict with yourself! New habits take a bit of time and lot of effort to form! Of course there will be days when something unexpected derails your plans. But if you can get yourself to the place where you are working one week ahead of yourself, it will be so much easier to stay that way. After a few weeks, the relief you feel because you are prepared and not struggling to keep up will give you the motivation you need to keep up these good systems!

-Don’t volunteer to sub! Of course you must if you are directed to cover by an administrator. But advise your union officials if you are not getting a regular planning- no matter what the day or special schedule or circumstance.

Take-aways For Making the Most of Your Planning Time

-Create a template

-Figure out the system/schedule that YOU need for planning time

-Stick with it!

A teacher who is prepared is calm and feels in control.

A teacher who plans in advance creates units that are well-designed and thought out. The end goals are clear from the beginning, and the teacher plans backwards to be sure that the learning objectives are met.

A teacher who is organized meets deadlines and doesn’t have as many things slipping through the cracks of our busy days.


woman holding a smiley balloon
Photo by Julia Avamotive on


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planning time