Thursday 17 December 2020

Planning - a nightmare...

I used to have the ubiquitous black planner when I started teaching and this was carted around to each of my lessons (I'm not sure why...) Since I decided that this was not a good idea, I have played with various digital solutions instead, as this is more accessible (and portable) and also has in-built flexibility.

My problem is, I can't decide what system to use, and spend more time than I should trying, creating and scrubbing digital planners, many of which start with the basics of the black planbook and build on that.

I started with Planbook which has a myriad of features, but costs money I don't want (or need) to be
spending. Also, there were issues in terms of timings for me. Our school has a six day timetable with Tuesdays and Thursdays having different timings to the other days. I had to create an 'alternate schedule' for Tuesday week 1, Thursday week 1 and so on, meaning a LOT of additional messing about. 

The next stop was a free programme, similar but with not as many features (still very good though) called Planboard. Visually appealing, and easier for the changeable schedule as I can just adjust the individual day as needed. It irks me that I cannot see the whole day in one go as the boxes are a bit large. Just a small niggle, but one that pushes me away sometimes.

Both of these have grading features and class attendance recording, but both are geared towards the US system for grading - the grade for each piece of work counts towards an overall final grade, not something I want for New Zealand style assessment. Also, both of these features are completed by my SMS (Kamar), so why duplicate?

A NZ-based planner is iUgo. It is designed for our schools and curriculum but is so stupidly expensive (over $100 per year per person!) that I am going to say no more about it. I tried the trial version, and it is not as intuitive or nice to work with as the price would suggest it should be. Absolute fail on most counts (especially the cost, do they think teachers are paid well??)

Another option I have tried multiple variants of is using one or other Google Apps. Docs - created a list of lessons, have done lesson plans through a form that automatically generates a lesson plan etc (like I put that much thought and effort into planning...) Sheets - one week per tab, one sheet per term, have to use Ctrl+Enter to write on a new line, keep fiddling about with the format etc. Slides - I've created my own fabulous planner and tried some of the available ones (Slidesmania has some good templates, but not quite what I am looking for). The other issue is then having to add things like date, day, times, school cycle day etc. Then when you factor in all of the stuff that takes students from the classroom (photos, sports, swimming, relationship talks etc), sometimes things need a whole rejig and a lot of copying and pasting of events from one place to the next. #SIGH#

I'm starting to run out of options.

I tend to fall back on Google Calendar, colour code each class and add links to Drive items etc as necessary. It's not visually the best system (can't tell at a glance what I have planned or whether I need resources such as science gear etc), but I tend to just use emojis to denote specific things to jog my memory, like in the image below, and I can download it straight from Kamar to make it easier to load all of the timetable for the year in.

I don't suppose the perfect system exists for me, but I know I'll keep playing and trying (and getting frustrated and getting rid of) different planner systems. I never seem to be completely at a loss in the lesson, even if not planned to the nth degree (actually, these are often my better lesson...)

I would love to know how everyone else copes with planning. I view it as a necessary evil and will continue as I am for now!

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