Over the years, I have used several types of teacher planners, but I have never found the one that has everything and only what I need. Probably, I will never do as one size does not fit all. So, what to look for in a teacher planner to make sure it has almost everything a secondary teacher needs?
1. Vertical or horizontal planner layout
Lately, I have seen more horizontal planners than vertical ones. It might be a new trend, but I personally prefer vertical planners. It is a question of preference, but I feel less confused and more comfortable with columns showing the periods each day from top to bottom than from left to right.
As an ESL specialist, I do not need all the extra classroom forms a homeroom teacher might need. So, this is what I personally look for in a planner:
important information page
month at a glance
important dates to remember
extra note-taking sheets
student behaviour log
weekly lesson planner
optional: attendance and grade book
Of course, if you are a homeroom teacher, you need much more than this list. Your teacher binder will likely include other forms such as a class list, classroom roster, transportation, parent-teacher communication log, parent contact information, birthdays, parent-teacher conference forms besides the weekly planner, attendance, and grade book.
3. Design: heavy vs. light and coloured vs. printer-friendly
Depending on your budget and how much you are willing to spend on a teacher planner that is good for only a year, you may choose between purchasing your planner from a store such as Michaels or Staples or buying a digital download.
I admit that the Happy Planner™ teacher planners are extremely cute, and I would love to own one, but they are too heavy. That is why I tend to opt for a minimalist planner that has only essential content as I have outlined above.
A more affordable way of having your own planner is purchasing a digital file and print it out at home. The benefit of buying a teacher planner saved as a PDF file is that you can reuse it. You pay for it once, but you may print a copy every year.
You might also ponder over buying a more printer-friendly planner instead of a coloured one. Although such a planner will save you ink and money, let us be honest: it is not that cute and stylish. If I choose to invest money in a good teacher planner, I want it to be both elegant and functional.
Nowadays, printing in colour is not necessarily extremely expensive. For instance, I use my HP Instant Ink subscription to print my coloured teacher planner, and it does not cost me an arm and a leg.
Finally, a good teacher planner has to be durable to resist the wear and tear throughout the school year. Most teacher planner covers are made of cardstock paper, and they are usually laminated. However, as a teacher, I often need to write and erase things, so the quality of the paper used in a teacher planner is also important to me. Plus, if you prefer writing with coloured fine markers, you would not want your writing to show up on the other side of the page. That is why I print my planner on quality paper and either laminate or add a plastic protective sheet on the front and back covers.
5. The bottom line: Should you purchase or create your own teacher planner?
It depends on what design you want as well as how busy and skilled you are. Creating your own teacher planner requires time and a lot of patience. In addition, if you want it to be elegant and stylish, you need quality clip art and the right design tools. If you are too busy, do not have the patience, or simply do not have the tools to embellish your planner, purchasing one is totally your go-to option.
I do have a few teacher planners in my TPT store and here in my VTT shop that you could check out. The story behind my designs is quite simple. What started as a small project eventually turned into something bigger. I enjoyed working on my first teacher planner so much that it has inspired me to create more and share them on TpT, so other teachers do not have to spend their precious time and energy on creating their own.
A free back to school gift for you
Besides designing teacher planners, I have also created a set of stickers that are both decorative and practical. You can download these watercolor stickers for free from the Free Resources Library. These stickers feature the following information: ped days, test, exam, assignment, homework, major Canadian/US holidays, planning period, grading, faculty meeting, appointment, follow up, sick day, personal day, and so on and so forth. Enjoy!
Check out my featured teacher planners below.
This is an undated, elegant, and minimalist teacher planner. I have designed this watercolour teacher planner for teachers who are looking for a practical but elegant weekly lesson planner without the heavy load of additional classroom forms. The weekly lesson plan spreads cover 12 months (from August to end of July), so you can use it to plan lessons for summer school or other similar activities during the summer.
Other teacher planners are also available in my shop here: