Do I REALLY Need a Planner? {and A Winner!}

First, up - the WINNER of my OfficeMax Tools for Schools Giveaway {$125+Value} is....
Congrats!!! I have sent an email your way! :)

If you didn't win this giveaway, no worries!  I have another HUGE Back to School Giveaway coming up later in the week!

So, you all know from my last post that I like to be organized.  I'm a natural planner.  So, tell me...

Do I really need one of these {Erin Condren} planners??  I don't really understand how it could be so helpful.  I do not and will not actually hand-write my lesson plans, so I definitely wouldn't use that.  Maybe I need a life planner?  But, that's what my iphone is! lol

I've watched all summer long as you all have waited on the edge of your seats for your planners to arrive and I'm just wondering what all of the excitement is about.  

Convince me.  Why do I need one?  

If you have a blog post that shows the "inside" of your planner and/or how you use it, I would love for you to leave the link.  Thanks, friends!

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  1. I have also wondered this. I am by nature a very organized person, but I fail to see how one will change my life. I will be subscribing to these comments ;)

    Fifth in the Middle

  2. I'm also curious to hear what people say. They are really expensive and I already store most of my calendar and other essentials on my iPhone. Can't wait to see what people say... :)

    Mrs. Laffin's Laughings

  3. So I am curious too ... great post! I can hardly wait to hear the responses!

  4. I have been thinking the same thing! My district uses google apps now so I only use google calendar and tasks. It's great to have access to my calendar and to do list on any device: phone, tablet, or any computer. I also can share events so easily! My kindergarten team actually mapped our curriculum for next year in google calendar.
    Funny story: My DH made me switch to using google by threatening to steal and burn my paper planner binder to give me an example of how tragic to my life it would be if that thing ever got damaged or lost. He's a little crazy though...but I do swear by my google calendar now! I have thought about making a video on my blog about using it actually.
    Mrs. Cobb's Kindersprouts

  5. I HAVE to write my lesson plans in a planbook or I am a frazzled mess. My Lesson planner is my lifeline from 8-4. I once forgot mine over the weekend and I PANICKED. And when my cheapie ones fall apart, every year, without fail, I get really upset. I positively love my lesson planner... so much that I got the life planner. I haven't done a post about them but I do plan on it! I will let you know when I do.
    Third Grade Tidbits

  6. Ahem, one good reason may be that some of us do not have iPhones, iPads, SMARTphones, etc... (oh, the embarrassment). I do not invest in expensive planners, I use freebies from my district or purchase after the new year begins. Although, I do use google calendar at school. I may be a dying breed, but I like not being reachable 24/7. ;)

    1. I must be a part of that dying breed! I don't have a Smartphone or iPad either and I like not being reachable 24/7. I do use an online lesson planner at school (required to) along with a cheat sheet version I type on the computer for myself. Otherwise, I buy a cheap planner at Wal-Mart (this year's cost $5) and make it work for me. :)

      - Pam
      Moments to Teach

  7. I know people will probably throw things at me, but I got one last year (won a coupon and had like 40% off what was left). I was not overly impressed. Maybe I'm not using it correctly. I think it's very bulky. I like being able to personalize it and all-it was cute, but I wouldn't spend the money to buy one again.

    1. no stones here... after getting a life planner last year and now a teacher planner this year... I am not going to get another one

  8. I can't use one of those planners because the parish I work in requires us to have a ton of other stuff on our plans. Plus I am like you I type my lesson plans out. I guess it is a personal preference.


  9. I'm wondering the same thing, Amanda! Life is so much easier for me if I do life on the computer. Everything syncs, it backs up, and it is easily editable. I don't like to erase or scratch things out. I'm also able to share my calendar with my husband so he knows where I am and what my schedule is. I'm not jumping on the bandwagon, even though I LOVED the paisley one :)

  10. I'm so anal I use like three different systems... I have my typed up copies of my lesson plans on my computer & in a binder for copying and checking in with. Then I use my planner for like the short hand version of things so I can leave notes or see how I did things day by day in case I decided to change something... then I still use my iPhone and Google docs to schedule my life!

    I did buy an Erin Condren planner because I write down ALL my school stuff in my teacher planner. I usually get a free one from school but I never have enough boxes! I teach spelling, reading, writing, social studies, and any extras like grammar/word work! So I liked the Erin Condren planner because it's full of boxes to write down my "version" of my lesson plans. I also record our school plays, meetings, etc. in my planner as well as my iPhone. I don't always have my phone's volume up in school so my planner is my visual reminder :)

    I think it's just a preference. A teacher last year at my school bought a planner and only used it for the month at a glance calendar (which she could have purchased else where) - she prefers her lesson plans typed. I also type mine but the Day 1, Day 2 in word confuses me - so I need to see it on the DAY and then my binder/word copy is more detailed if I need it ;)

    Hope that helps!
    Once I get mine filled in for this year, I'll post it!

    My Shoe String Life
    Follow me on Bloglovin'

  11. I'm with you! We use an online program to type in our plans. I love it, although I wish I could access it from my iPad and phone. Regardless, if its not typed, I'll lose it. I like using colored pens and all, but I want it to be perfect and so I get upset if I mess up and stuff like that. I'm always ripping out pages and starting over so those planners don't work for me!

    Literacy Spark

  12. I bought an Erin Condren teacher planner last year and only used it for a little while. The boxes were too small to write in. I loved the layout of it and how sturdy it was. I found a cheaper planner on Etsy from Plum Paper Designs because I like to hand write my plans. I don't like to type them and then have to print them out. I do have a life planner because I do use it. I am starting to observe other teachers this year so I will need to have lots of dates written down and coordinated with others. I can't ever remember to add dates to my phone.

    Swimming into Second

  13. As a pre-service teacher (going into my final year of my B.Ed.) I didn't need a lesson plan book but I did succumb to the hype about the Life Planner and honestly, I think it was way over priced. I didn't end up using it much at all because of its bulkiness and I certainly won't be buying another! I've also found a different company called May Designs who create planners for $20. Unfortunately, they don't ship to Canada yet :( I'm sure it's a preference thing, I just know I won't be rushing to spend $50 again!

  14. I bought one last year and loved first. But then I didn't really use it as much as I thought I would. I'm like you, its too much to handwrite my plans after I've already typed them up, so that was a no go. I did use the calendar portion, but any cheapo planner has that. The only real thing that I used was the checklist pages. I used them to check homework, see who has turned in notes/signed papers, etc. But I can't spend the $70 just for that, when I know I can just make my own checklists for free! I did get lots of compliments on it and it was really beautiful, but I honestly don't think I got my money's worth out of it.

    Teachery Tidbits

  15. Glad you asked this. I kind of wanted one, but I don't think I'd actually use it. Seeing these comments confirms that for me!

    Don't Let the Teacher Stay Up Late
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  16. I couldn't justify spending the money so I made my own. I designed it to be exactly what i wanted in my favorite colors and patterns. then i took it to business center costco and had them print and bind it exactly the way i wanted for $30ish dollars. I havent posted about it yet because i havent been back to costco (its in vegas) yet. But I'm already in love with it. Also, it's not really a planner at all, it has very few planning pages. I plan on using post-its when necessary, since I do all of my planning on the computer (as per policy).
    However, Stephanie from 3rd Grade Thoughts (I think I have that right) did a video post about her planner. It was actually what made me say nah, I don't need all of that, no matter how cute it is. It also could have something to do with the fact that I'm anti-bandwagon. Lol
    Good luck!

    1. Here's that video post. hope it helps!

  17. good question...
    I got a life planner last year and it came with a huge air bubble and the corners started coming apart after a week or two of using it... I contacted them and they sent me a new one... that was nice.... and it was air bubble free BUT it too started having corner issues after a few months.... so this year I decided to get a teacher planner... giving it another try... when I got it... i noticed again another bubble.... AHHHHHH I ignored it because I griped about it last year and I am just going to look like a grouch or moocher or worse for complaining again.... and then after a few days of just filling in the dates and writing down a FEW things the air bubble grew to more than 4 inches... and some check-off lists that I paid extra for fell out... really they were never inserted SOOO I contacted them again... with photos and they said they could give me a $20 credit for my next purchase.... ummm not gonna have another purchase... soooo as you can tell I will not be purchasing another one... I got caught up in the band wagon and jumped right on but unfortunately my almost unused planner looks like it got run over by the band wagon... so in my honest opinion don't do it

  18. I made my own planner this year to personalize it to fit me. I type my plans so I can keep them for the next year, but I plan to use this to write quick notes down when we're doing grade level meetings. I blogged about it here:


  19. I was feeling the exact same way!! I usually get the free planner from Lakeshore Learning and it works just fine. However they changed the format of it this year- instead of the days going across horizontally, it goes vertically. It was driving me bonkers just thinking about how I'd set it up. I looked at some others, but they too are orientated vertically (with the days of the week at the top of the page). I kept going back to the EC planner. One thing, aside from the horizontal layout, that I really liked are the notes pages after the month pages. I thought these pages would be a great place for our faculty meeting notes and team meeting notes for that month. Then it's all in one place- in the past I've had another binder for these notes. After a couple days of going back and forth about it, I made the big purchase!! The cost was hard to justify, but I heard it comes with (at least) one $10 off coupon for your next purchase. Can't wait for it to arrive. Hopefully it's perfect- reading some of the comments on FB make me a little worried about their quality control.

  20. Have any of you tried the planner that Traci Clausen sells on TPT? Her blog is Dragonflies in First. She has a weekly planner and a yearly planner that is based in excel and works pretty great - especially for scheduling. Then I usually have extra typed notes to go with each lesson that I just clip to each day's folder. Check it out! You might like it! Also, there are a lot of planners on TPT that are not nearly as expensive; you just print out the parts that you want and they are just as cute. Also, you can buy colored Pilot pens on They are the same pens offered by EC, but cheaper and more variety.

  21. I have always used a lesson planner, and I recently purchased a Plum Paper (Etsy) planner for the upcoming school year.
    I don't use the planner to write out entire lesson plans. Instead, I can briefly write what I want to do that day/class and important reminders. For example, in a lesson planner I might write this:

    1. Warm Up: Current Event
    2. Reading quiz (Ch. 4)
    3. Notes: Fall of Napoleon Bonaparte
    4. Acronym Activity
    5. Popcorn questions
    HW: Quiz next Tuesday

    Basically, I write in my planner what I would write on the board for the class to see. It makes my life so much easier; I truly would be lost without it. I also like a planner with a little extra room to write some notes about the days lesson. Not only does this help me realize what I need to cover again, it is also useful so I can go back the next year and remember exactly what worked and what didn't.

  22. I write in my paper planner the same way Katie L does: in outline bullets. I teach high school Theatre and English and love having the notes pages for following Harkness discussions; I like to track which kids have met which standard how many times with the checklist pages. Since I teach 14 different groups of kids each week - some for one period, some 2, some 3 and some 5 I color code check this capsule lesson plan at the beginning of each class period (and often in the middle of class as well) - it's much simpler for me that leaving my spot with the students, going over to my docking station, refreshing the locked screen (that with school security locks every 3 minutes) and calling up what I typed.
    A dutiful student of 21st century tech, I liked the idea of keeping everything on my smart phone, but found, as many studies will support, I was not as connected to what I typed as I am to what I hand write. Add to that the size of my month and week at a glance spreads compared to the size of my smartphone and I you can see how much more I can see at one time: I HATE enlarging my text to readable size then having to scroll back and forth to read it.
    Perhaps it's because I really am Fred Flintstone living in a George Jetson world, but I find having everything at the ready in my paper planner much simpler than fighthing with my computer to take quick notes. And I can carry my paper planner with me anywhere - not so my computer - it must be within internet range.
    I should also point out that I am in international teacher, living in a developing African nation, and internet is not something we can rely on. Indeed, neither is electricity. This gives a new meaning to "in the cloud,"


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