Monday, March 13, 2017

2017 SOLC Day 13: Planners

Teachers are, by nature, planners.  Whether we do it by principal's decree to have the 5Es turned in each week, or we are left to figure it out on our own, we know that facing a classroom of children each day without a plan of some kind can lead to chaos, especially on rainy days.

When I taught resource classes in my first go-round as an educator, I planned out each child's lessons by the month.  My principal allowed me to do this so that I wouldn't have to rewrite each week due to an absence or learning obstacle.  With thirty-six subject areas to teach (taking into account varying ability levels and groupings), it was the only way I knew how to keep up with tracking IEP goals and state essential elements.

This naturally spilled over into my personal life.  I invested in a series of planners--remember when Day Runner came out?  I tried weekly pages, two-page-per-day, one-page-per-day formats.  I had the blank pages for notes, the monthly pages for planning ahead, the address book pages.  My go-to size at that time was the 3in by 6in.  I took that dull gray planner with me to work, meetings, and back home again.  I planned my wedding in it, my chores, my exercise, my prenatal visits.

My daughter's premature birth slapped me out of my planning reverie.  Ten months of pregnancy turned into prescribed three months of bed rest, which turned into four days of bed rest and giving birth.  My daughter was bound and determined to be a September baby, plans be damned.  Four months later, my husband was laid off from work, and a few months after that, my mother was diagnosed with bulbar ALS.

We make plans, and God laughs.  I didn't touch a planner for three years.

But like a safe harbor for sailors, I got drawn back to my planning ways.  This time I invested in 5in by 8in pages, in a zipped brown cover that could contain my burgeoning receipts, birthday party invitations, newly recorded addresses.  That planner lasted through my ARD facilitating days, until it became too cumbersome, filled to the hilt with loose paper.  It still sits under a pile of papers on my desk, the contact information the only section I occasionally use when stamped letters are called for or a phone number is needed. 

My latest planners have come from Leonie Dawson's Shining Life product line.  They are colorful, weekly, and have space for monthly wrap-up thoughts and goal setting.  I'm a sporadic user and tend to plan more than I actually get done, but there's something satisfying about making a list and checking off completed tasks that brings structure to my day.  

The lessons from my daughter's birth and subsequent events have endured, however. One must leave room for the unexpected.

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