Planning tips for a new academic year

This is going to be an academic year like no other, with so many changes. It is going to seem impossible to start planning, but the sooner you start the better. There are some easy tips that you can do, even if you are not sure what room you are in next year, or if you have to wear a full hazmat suit.

Over the years of teaching I have chatted to colleagues and developed a few planning tips that you might find useful. Here are a few to get you started....

1) Easy email tips

Create subfolders in your home and work emails. E.g. meetings, from students, about students, enterprise and so on for work. For home also create subfolders for; things you have bought, any big projects, emails from your kid's schools and so on.

Create rules for people that email you a lot, in outlook right click on their email then choose create rule and you can put everything from them into one handy folder, then you don't have to pick through 200 marketing emails to get to it. I promise this takes 2 mins and will simplify your planning time.

2) Where to start

You need to set up a spreadsheet of all your planning that you need to do over the summer. This includes any resources to write, filling in your teacher planner and so on. Make a list. Then traffic light it; red not done, orange looked at but walked away, green done. I also have shades of green for how "done" my planning is. The darker the green the better the project progress. Then next time you sit down at your computer your very first task EVERY-TIME is to open that spreadsheet and it will tell you where to start. I cannot tell you how many times I did tasks twice before I started this system. This also stops you from opening Amazon and spending 20 minutes looking at doorbells!

3) Dust off old stuff

Go through your files to organise them and have a look at worksheets that you made in 2014 for example. You will be amazed at ways you can now rejig these activities or add to them for an exciting started. Those that are totally out of date (e.g. that case study on iPods) then its time to delete. The key is * possibly useful ** out-of-date you can decide on further criteria but every file should have a folder. Start the year like this and it will be easier. Never a better time to tidy up your shared drive or your moodle as well. I'm just jotting this on my to do spreadsheet now while I think about it.

4) A quick round up of other tips.

  • Define projects at the start, outlining what you want to achieve at the end. Not pointless, more like being in a boat with a rudder vs a canoe with no oars.

  • Add to be done by dates. This will not make you sad it will make you realise that everything takes twice as long, bear this in mind when setting work for students!

  • Try and make worksheets one page. One topic one page. Don't over complicate things and your photocopying will be simpler (and cheaper).

  • Plan at the same time every day. If you are great at 9am but rubbish by about 2pm then plan in the morning.

If you really want you can add a chart where you track your energy levels. I do this with students just before revision starts and they love it.

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