How long is your planning period? The universal answer is “too short”. Can I get an amen? My last year in the traditional classroom, I decided that my days of staying until 5:30 had to end. I implemented a leave by 4:00 daily rule for myself. Does that sound like Mission Impossible? Want to know what I changed? One of my biggest changes was how I used my planning period. Here are 5 reasons to shut the door and plan during your planning period.
Reason 1: Socializing is a Waste of Time
I love chatting it up with co-workers. The social aspect of teaching is what makes it fun. I’ve always made my co-workers my best friends, but have you ever spent an entire planning period goofing off with your friends? I have multiple times. That was one reason that I needed to start going to my room and closing the door.
Reason 2: Closes Out Hallway Distractions
I don’t know about you, but I love it when previous students come and visit me. They constantly stop in my doorway and say hello and wave or run in for a quick hug. It certainly makes me feel loved and missed. Between old students and the noises of the bathroom nearby or teachers talking in the hallway, there can be a lot of distractions during your planning period. There were even times when I would hear a noise and feel like I needed to get up and see if anyone needed help. By closing the door, I reduced a lot of the noise.
Reason 3: It Keeps Your Students Out
“I forgot my art box.” “I needed my water bottle.” “I forgot my agenda with my login sheet.” There are a million reasons students return to the classroom during your planning period. However, if the door is closed, they can’t get in. This might sound really mean, but a closed door keeps people out. Occasionally I would have a student or two who would knock, but usually they would see the door was closed and turn around and go back to their activity.
Reason 4: It Creates a Quiet and Focused Environment
A quiet room is a happy room, am I right? I know some like a little background noise, but I can really rock out some amazing lesson plans and resources in the silence. By closing the door, I create for myself an environment that is focused on productivity. I can control my space and work if I am in control. The only people who are allowed to enter are those that I let in (unless they have a key).
Reason 5: Frees Up After School Time
Even if you end up with only a 30 minute planning period, that is 30 minutes of quality work that you don’t have to do after school. Now having both boys with me at school, I don’t get as much accomplished after school as I used to. Making a few small changes can really optimize your planning period. For example, don’t go to the office during your planning. Go to the office before school, during lunch, and after school. Make phone calls or answer emails during bus duty. Copies and laminating were still after school activities for me or perfect for parent volunteers during the day.
These small changes will produce HUGE results. I did have to discuss this new plan with my co-workers and students. I didn’t want to hurt feelings for seeming unsocial, but I wanted them to understand my ultimate goal for being able to leave earlier. Of course there were weekly meetings that I couldn’t avoid and grade level planning meetings that we needed, but if we weren’t meeting my door was closed and I was planning!
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