Throw Away Your Teacher Planner and Do This Instead

Jun 15, 2022

Hello there and welcome back to the Sustainable Teacher, I am your host Mandy Rice, and I’m so excited you’ve joined us for another episode of teacher inspiration and encouragement packaged into recommendations and tips to help make your teacher-life a bit more sustainable.  Because we are all about helping you have BOTH in your life.  What do I mean by that, you might be asking???

Well, I mean you should have BOTH an effective classroom AND a thriving personal life.  You shouldn’t have to sacrifice one for the other, and I’m hoping today’s episode, as well as this podcast as a whole, helps you take one step closer to that truth.

Starting with this episode, I am excited to announce that each of our episodes will now also be available in video format on my YouTube channel, so if you’re listening to the podcast head to the link in the description to check out the YouTube video that will give a visual glimpse into today’s topic.

Which is….Throw Away your Traditional Teacher Planner and Use This Instead!

Yep, that’s right.  I am recommending and strongly encouraging my teacher-friends listening or watching to throw away our traditional teacher planner and to use a planner that I recommend instead - I’ll tell you what that planner is, why you should be using it to become a more sustainable teacher and human being as a whole, and how you should be planning your teacher-life instead.

After listening to this episode you’ll see the obvious power of a daily planner that allows you to live a more sustainable well-planned life, one that encompasses all roles you play, not just that of a teacher, because doing so will ultimately allow you to show up better as a teacher.

So buckle up my friends, and let’s get to it!


Full Focus Planner

Today’s episode is brought to you by the Full Focus Planner.  If you’re like me, you totally geek out about planners.  Especially the super colorful and organized teacher planners with the stickers and the tabs.  Seriously - so cute.  But as I searched and tested multiple planners, they only became more work to maintain and didn’t necessarily serve the work I was doing in my classroom.

Then I found the Full Focus Planner.  To learn more about how I use my Full Focus Planner and how it can help you build a more sustainable teaching-life, head over to our website here.

Throw Away Your Teacher Planner and Use This Instead

One of the hardest break ups I ever had was with my traditional teacher planner.  Each and every year, around June or July, I was start the incessant hunt for the next best teacher planner that would revolutionize my planning and help me be more prepared so that I ultimately spent less time working.

What I found, year after year was that I spent so much time in my planner, planning out the same lessons from the year before, just on a different day, and the time spent doing so was not serving me in the goal I was after… which was to (reminder) be more prepared so I don’t have to work as much.

And yet I was spending hours in that dag-gone planner before I even got to implementing my lessons and then collecting and responding to student data.  It was exhausting.

So although the process of getting to this point was hard, it was one of the most liberating experiences for me as a teacher to toss the planner in the garbage and stop spending money on a pretty book that I ultimately gave up by October each year.

Digitally Plan Lessons Instead

This doesn’t mean that I gave up on lesson planning.  Phew - that would not be a wise choice as a teacher, but the day-to-day planning in a teacher-planner was no longer serving me, so I had to shift.

I shifted to digitally planning my lessons and units.  Instead of writing the same thing for each day or lesson year after year, I typed it into my digital lesson/unit planner ONCE, then I was able to drag and drop and edit as I needed to in the years that followed.  No more reinventing the wheel.

There are some really awesome digital teacher planners out there by the way.  Many of them even look like paper planners and you can keep them on your laptop or write on them on your ipad if you’re an ipad and Apple pencil fan.  You can even print them out if you like having your plans tangibly in front of you.  But the advantage of not spending hours reinventing the wheel is still there.

I chose to digitally plan, by unit, in a simple Google Doc.  I set up a table in that doc that took me day by day so that it was clear what needed to happen any given day, and the best part is that I hyperlinked everything.  I hyperlinked all student resources - activities, bell ringers, assessments, necessary reference material, all of it.  Even resources for me to consider in the future, I included those right on the Google doc so that when I went to reflect on the lesson or consider any kind of changes, those links were ready for me.

Use a WHOLE Life Planner Instead

But what about the day to day, I-need-to-get-shiz-done planning??

Yes, I’m so glad you asked.

Have you ever found yourself writing on a thousand sticky notes per week of items you need to accomplish, each one being their own little mini to-do list?

That was absolutely me, especially when I used a traditional teacher-planner, because there was nowhere to put that in my daily lesson plans… you know, all the OTHER things I needed to accomplish as a teacher, because my daily teaching-life was not only what I taught.

Your teacher-life is more than your lesson plans.  You’ve got other tasks to accomplish as well, so what about incorporating those into your daily planning and productivity?

And here’s another news flash that I’d like you to listen to and then take a moment to absorb.  

Your life is more than your teaching-life.

I’ll say it again… Your life is more than your teaching-life.

So how do you incorporate all of you and all of what you do and accomplish and strive for you in your life into a planner so that you are prepared and ready to conquer each day?

That, my friend, is where the daily planner I’ve been using for two years now comes into play.  It is the Full Focus Planner by Full Focus Co.

I can’t recommend this planner enough, so I want to lay out for you here why a daily GOAL planning planner like the Full Focus Planner will allow you to live a more sustainable teacher-life, because that’s what we’re ultimately going for, right?!?

Goal Planning

It's not just a daily planner of all the things you need to accomplish, it’s a goal planner.  

Here’s why that’s huge.  As teachers, it is so easy to lose sight of ourselves, our needs and desires, and how we ultimately want to be living our lives.  We give up so much as teachers for the sake of our students and the daily grind of teaching, that it’s hard to prioritize ON OUR CALENDARS what really matters to us.  And there’s no one to blame there, but I want to help you reign those personal goals and desires back in.

The Full Focus Planner gets you in that mindset each day so that you don’t forget, which is so easy to do within your daily teaching-life.


Secondly, it helps you establish necessary routines for living a more goal-focused and sustainable life.  It will walk you through setting up daily start-up and shut-down routines.  It will guide you through doing a weekly and daily preview to make sure no item on your priority list goes unseen.

Our Whole Lives

Lastly, it helps us plan for our whole lives, not just our teaching lives.  Here’s the truth - work-life balance is not a one-size-fits-all, happens-every-day kind of paradigm.

Some would argue it’s a total myth.  But what I know is that it absolutely ebbs and flows. Some days will be more teacher focused, others will be more personally focused, but hopefully most days are more balanced.  The Full Focus planner allows for that ebb and flow because of how you declare your weekly and daily big three items.

Let me give you an example.  Today, as I’m sitting here recording this podcast, I have one business item on my daily big 3, one personal item (an event I have for our school this evening), and one kid-focused item (because I’m a mom of three over the summer, and they are around more this time of year, so that balance is shifting a bit).  Some days I’ll have more business or professional life items, and other days I’ll have more personal or family items.

And you know what??? I don’t have to feel guilty about not having all work items on my big three because this is MY planner.  My daily LIFE planner, not just my teacher planner.  And I am more than a teacher.  I am more than my work.  And my planner helps me be better in all of my roles, which ultimately helps me be a better presence for my students in the classroom.

It’s a win for all parties involved.  And when you’re a teacher, there’s a lot of parties involved, am I right?

Alright teacher-friend, there you have it for this episode about why you should throw away your traditional teacher planner, and use this daily, whole-life planner instead.  It ultimately comes down to the fact that you are more than just a teacher, and if you are able to be that, to be each of the roles you play, well, that will help you be a better “more-than-a-teacher” for your students too.

Be sure to head down to the description of this episode for our full-length show notes on our website, and the link to our website about the Full Focus planner where you can get your very own copy, and I’ll see you here, same time next week.

Bye for now.


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