The planning period is an interesting thing—time when you’re still very much on the clock and in demand, but might’ve mentally scheduled phone calls to parents, gathering data for your PLC, or finally grading all of those On-Demands. This may cause you to be a bit defensive of this time, avoiding other teachers, not answering your phone, or even closing your door and turning off the lights so everyone thinks you’re gone.
But in reality none of this is really necessary—you don’t really need that planning period anyway, and here are 10 reasons why.
1. Caffeine, Diet Coke, and other godsends.
Your planning period was going to be the time you were you got it all together—all those minor hangnails that have been bothering you for weeks—but it just wasn’t in the cards. Lucky for you, there’s caffeine, the socially-acceptable drug that can turn your panting fatigue into manic action in no time. You might have the heart rate of a gerbil, but things will be graded, planning will get finished, and life will be better.
2. PD days exist for a reason.
There’s an upcoming “PD Day” (e.g., inservice) that was chock full of meetings and trainings, but your principal has promised to give you at least half that time to “work on your own,” and you’re assuming that doesn’t mean in data teams, but you, in your room, putting out fires and setting the world right again.
3. Professional Learning Communities will share the burden.
A Professional Learning Community is designed to share resources, promote best practices, and eliminate the closed-door policy of many teachers. By participating in a PLC, you’ll have access to the best thinking and strategies your school or district has to offer while needing less of a time investment because of all the added awesomeness.
4. Data teams make data more abundant, accessible, and manageable.
Speaking of data, by completing all 5 steps of the data team process, you’ll have clear goals, research-based strategies, and tightly-aligned results indicators that is sure to produce the data you need to revise planned instruction. So less time planning then. PLCs are the new planning period!
5. Unannounced staff meetings, impromptu gab-sessions, parent meetings, and ARCs FTW!
Schools days are emotional rollercoasters–and full of unannounced spectacle and drama. When this stuff comes up, it’s simply fate’s way of saying you didn’t really need your planning period anyway.
6. The district bought you an iPad.
Lose your planning period? Work from home on your new iPad! All of the curriculum mapping, instructional design, lesson planning, assessment, and revision of planned instruction with said assessment data, can be done as easily from your couch as it can from your classroom. And on an iPad the process is so much more elegant, what with pinching and zooming and all.
7. Project-Based Learning will reduce the need for traditional planning.
You’ve recently moved to project-based learning, which eschews (or can eschew) traditional day-by-day planning in pursuit of more student-centered, open-ended learning. This means less planning, less grading, and more time to stroll around the room and work crowd control.
8. Flipping your classroom will double your free time.
Same with the flipped classroom. By recording all of your videos once, you’re set for years to come. You can even share videos with other grade level teachers, reducing your prep time by half. Less prep = less time necessary for planning = less need for that planning period.
9. Technology makes everything easier.
There was once a time where everything had to be done by hand—and in triplicate—but no more. Technology has reduced the need for grading, paperwork, and redundancy in general. In fact, there’s probably an app you can download, configure, and record all the time you’re saving.
10. Social media makes phone calls home redundant.
Now that “you’ve got a twitter,” and probably a blog, too—phone calls home are almost entirely unnecessary. Missing work, upcoming projects, or behavior issues can be accomplished in half the time—no more phone tag! Just create a unique page for each student with specific passwords so only they can access the sensitive information you need to share/discuss.
Image attribution flickr user celt-greene; 10 Reasons You Really Didn’t Need That Planning Period Anyway