Thursday, August 9, 2012

Planning and Balancing Home and School

How do I plan?  (First of all,  I want to say I am excited about this giveaway because I really want an Erin Condren Life Planner.)

I am an extremely analytical, detail-oriented person.  I love lists and lists about making lists.  However, I also love change, new adventures, and inspired tangents.  I like to start with a big picture that inspires me and gives a jumping off point.  I enjoy using novels for read aloud because it gives me a tentative plan for about a month or so.  I will sit down and think about logical breaks in the chapters and possible reading skills.  If I am trying to follow a particular scope and sequece, I might use a genre or something as my guide for the month or six weeks.  This year I will be using more of a thematic approach, so I am excited to see how this will manifest itself.  I like to start with a great text.  I think a great text gives me great ideas for activities and discussion. (I am also aware I started way too many of these sentences with I, but I'm too tired to over-edit.)

Beginning by thinking about objective is a good way to approach planning.  Lately, I have been thinking a lot about how with high school students your goal should be to help them be prepared for college, for middle-schoolers it should be to help them be prepared for high-school, and with elementary we are trying to prepare them for middle school. I like to cover a lot of note-taking skills and explain to my students why certain skills are needed even if they are not the most exciting in the world.  Sometimes giving kids a why goes a long way.  I think it helps when planning to even think about how to activate kids prior background knowledge. 

I like to type out detailed lesson plans if I am leading a whole-group discussion/lesson.  I rarely follow them to a tee because the lesson itself and student questions always guide lessons to a better place than I planned.  I also often get last minute inspiration.  However, having detailed lessons helps me feel more prepared which allows me to just enjoy the moment and give into inspiration.

I like to also type out a sketched out breakdown of my week in Excel.  So for example, when I taught two classes of English and Social Studies I might have one typed out lesson, but two Excel sketches of the week.  In Excel, I like to show more of a schedule, like 15 minutes read aloud, 10 minutes journal writing, and 30 minutes independent reading, etc.  Here I would also list what groups I want to work with and who is in them.

Here are a couple posts I did awhile back on planning and organizing time: (This was a post where I talked about how I organized time in Reader's and Writer's workshop).  (This was my post from when I first discovered Erin Condren's website where I debated if I wanted to buy one of her planners.  I have since decided I do).  (These were my teacher planner examples I made to share.  I made these because most teacher planner books just have a box for each subject or period.  I wanted to have three boxes for each subject or period - one for objective, one for lesson, and one for activity.  I find this to be more helpful as a quick reference.)

Now for my Balancing School and Home series. 

(Fonts from Kevin and Amanda and the Background Graphic from Graphics at the Pond.)
I think most teachers right now are excited about their newly setup and hopefully clean classrooms, but sad to see summer go. I thinking balancing home and school is always tough.  Balance is my new outlook on life.  (This is part of why I really want the Erin Condren Life Planner).  I am an overly serious individual.  I will never be truly free-spirited.  My mom got that trait. However, I can work toward balance and enjoying life.  My hope is to share a post on a weekly basis with balance tips.  I am hoping that some of you will link up with me, so spread the word.  Please!  Consider how you find time to eat better, spend time with family, get enough rest, keep your house clean, leave school at school, etc. Teaching is a tough job, and as much as teacher bloggers are helping each other become better teachers.  Let's help each other be better balanced teachers as well.

This week's balance tip - Food:
I have found I eat better if I cook a bunch of stuff on Sunday and we heat up leftovers throughout the week.  With trying to keep up with blogging now and exercise more, I don't have the time or energy to cook every day.  I am inspired by the people who plan out their food for the week and stick to it.  I am an emotional eater, and I have come to terms with that.  I can only plan for about 1/2 a week's worth of meals.  If I plan more, I will waste it because by mid-week what sounded good Sunday does not appeal to me come Thursday. I am inspired by people who eat pretty healthy with a low grocery budget.  I am not that person.  I'm just not.  I love Whole Foods.  I absolutely love their produce and already cooked foods.  I enjoy over-paying for containers of already precut fruits and vegetables.  If I buy it and have the best intentions of cutting it myself, it will go bad uncut and uneaten.  So I have embraced my vow to be healthy by overpaying for convenience.  It makes me happy.  So there, those are some of how I find ways to eat healthier without losing my mind.

I have been going to hot yoga for about three years now - not always consistently. However, I love it.  It is relaxing, envigorating, detoxifying, and exhausting all at the same time.  I also wanted to try and encourage my husband to exercise more, so I decided to try and suggest things I knew he enjoyed.  When it wasn't quite so hot, we started running.  I can only interval run/walk, but I am making progress and it is something we can do together.  We recently bought nice bikes and have been bike riding.  That has been more pleasant than running when it is like 108 out.  Overall, I have found I exercise more consistently when I have someone to hold me accountable.  So maybe try and pick something you can do with a spouse or friend. 

I hope you will consider linking up with me with some balance tips/suggestions/recipes for your fellow teachers.  I am thankful for all of you and the joy that blogging has brought back to my life and my passion for teaching. 

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