5 Easy Steps to Plan Your Entire School Year In Advance

Setting a strong foundation for your school year can make a huge difference! This post shares 5 steps you can implement right now to plan your entire school year in advance!

These ideas work best for school teachers and homeschooling parents, but can also be tweaked for college students who want to streamline their upcoming school year.

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Lesson Planning & Organization

Ok, let’s play a game! Raise your hand if you feel like you could be more organized in your life right now. Good, hands down.

Now raise your hand if you are ready to actually GET organized in your life right now! Yeah, I thought so.

Even if you cheated and didn’t raise your hand both times, trending lists on Pinterest snatch us all out of the dark!

#Organization lives on the top list of things people search for on most social media channels.

Getting and staying organized is a constant theme for many teachers, parents, and students.

One of the best ways to get more organized is to sit down and make a plan that you can actually stick with and complete. 

I am sharing with you the 5 easy steps I take each year to plan my ENTIRE school year in advance–including the Summer!

Grab that coffee and chocolate and let’s have some fun together!

1- Pick a Planning Theme

The first step to planning your entire school year in advance is to choose a theme for your year.

Notice, that I said PLANNING THEME. This goes beyond just your classroom decorations.

What main goal do you want to accomplish as a teacher by the end of the year?

Since we are such a visually-addicted society, images of really cool things fly at us constantly and daily.

It might seem like an awesome idea to copy a Ron Clark teacher classroom transformation in the middle of the school year, but if you didn’t originally plan to do that, you WILL be overwhelmed! (Trust me, I’m speaking from experience on that one!)

So about seven years ago, I started giving each year a “theme.” Last year my theme was Small Groups and Centers. The year before that, my theme was Saving Time.

As you can see, I don’t make the title of my theme fancy or special. If it makes you feel more motivated, then, by all means, name your theme something spectacular.

One of my teacher friends follows these same steps and she had GROWTH-MINDSET as a theme one year.

The point is that this step will help set the tone for your goals. 

2- Set Monthly Goals Aligned with your Theme

Setting actionable goals aligned with your theme is the icing on the cake and the second step to planning your entire school year ahead of time.

With my Small Groups and Centers theme, my goal was to run 40-minute (each) Math and Literacy Centers a minimum of 3 days a week in my 4th Grade classroom.

Your theme and goals are personal to you and your students.

  • What areas do you and your kiddos need to grow in? 
  • Is there something you want to get better at doing?
  • What are your greatest needs or wants as a teacher? (…student, homeschooling parent, etc.?)

Set your annual theme and choose monthly measurable goals to accompany them.

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This makes your year SUPER organized and way less overwhelming.

Having one theme with actionable goals gives you a laser focus for your entire school year.

3- Get a Quality Planner

Customized planners are motivating and effective for your year-long planning process. Click the image for more details.

The third step in planning your entire school year in advance is to invest in a really good planner. 

You’ve heard me say it once, and I am going to say it again: I LOVE a good planner!!

Here are the reasons why this step is crucial in your process:

  • Since you are planning the full year at once, you WILL forget what you planned along the way! Having a quality, durable planner keeps you accountable because you will refer to it often.
  • Writing your goals and intentions down has been proven to help you stick with them; especially over longer periods of time.
  • Planners keep us organized–which is our whole reason for doing this.

Whether you choose a weekly planner with times, a daily planner app, or a specialized time management planner–the point is to GET ONE!

I use Erin Condren’s planners because they last a long time, I can customize them to fit my needs, and they are just so dang cute!

I LOVE how my Erin Condren planner comes with motivational quotes for each month. That makes the year long planning process helpful! Click the image for more details.

Shouldn’t I Get a Planner First?

As you brainstorm your annual theme and monthly goals, you don’t need anything fancy to write possible ideas.

This process can be completed with plain notebook paper.

Once you feel confident with your plan, you will make it more official by transferring it to your teacher planner.

So many teachers invest so much money in planners that they never really use because they didn’t START with a plan that they truly believed in.

Don’t make this mistake!

You are more likely to put your planner to good use once you have meaningful goals and a plan for how to accomplish them.

So plan your entire year with its goals first!

Related Post: Are Erin Condren Planners Really Worth the Slurge for Teachers?

4- Use Your Phone & Planner to Set Reminders Now

The fourth easy step to planning your entire school year in advance is to go ahead and plug in those important dates and events NOW with alerts that give you a heads up.

Having alerts keeps you on track even more with your annual plan.

Go ahead and set up reminders about any and everything you want to remember.

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Those advanced reminders can include things like:

  • Class field trips or service learning projects you want to complete with your students this year
  • Novel studies and chapter book projects for the full year
  • Seasonal activities like winter literacy games you intend to try
  • Holiday themed activities that aligns with your learning standards and celebrates the fun
  • Major assessments or tests that track student learning progress

Starting with the End in Mind

Obviously, as you can see, this process isn’t going to be finished in one sitting!

Choosing a theme with goals, then plugging advanced dates into a phone or planner takes time.

But it also allows you to stay on track with your overall plan for the entire school year.

By starting with the end in mind, and working backwards from it, you are ensuring that you’ll actually meet each goal you set.

Trust me, it’s worth the effort to get those reminders set up now so that you can stay organized throughout the full year.

5- Collaborate then Celebrate Meeting Your Planning Goals

The fifth and final step in planning for your full school year all at once is to pick a team to work with you on meeting your goals–THEN decide now how you will celebrate along the way!

It is a flat-out myth that you CAN have it all, do it all, be it all–all at once!

We all need encouragement, support, and help.

Who will fit on your team to help you fulfill your school year plan?

  • Co-teachers
  • Family members
  • Get your students involved!!
  • Spouse and children at home
  • Church members
  • Neighbors…on and on!

For my Small Groups and Centers theme, I called my former teacher mentor for help. She is the QUEEN of running small groups!

Every quarter, we went to our favorite Starbucks spot and evaluated how my plan was going.

The results of having her help were phenomenal!

I also worked closely with my co-teacher and my teacher assistant.

Once I knew who could and would pitch in, I made SURE to plan how we would celebrate in advance. 

This keeps you motivated and makes sticking with your entire year’s plan worth it!

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What would be the cost of not doing any advanced planning?

Unfortunately, so many teachers are hit with the consequences of this reality every year.

Not having a clue about what you want to achieve this school year can lead to stress from feeling overworked and pulled in too many directions at once.

As the saying goes, if you fail to plan, you plan to fail.

Now that you’re armed with effective planning steps–you’re already ahead of the game.

Happy Planning Teacher Friend!

The Butterfly Teacher

4 Responses

  1. Hi Tanya!
    I love the idea of planning around a “theme!” I, too, am having difficulty with receiving the guide. I’ve signed up twice and have checked spam. Any help is appreciated! Thanks for your help and for a great article!

    1. Hi Sue,
      I’m double checking it for you now. I will email you directly. Please let me know when you’ve received it. Thanks!

  2. Hi,
    I love your ideas for planning the whole school year in advance, but I cannot find the planning reflection guide anywhere. I signed up twice, and it is not coming up. Would you be able to send it to me please?

    1. Yes Kathie, I can send it to you directly. But please be sure to check your SPAM folder in case it went there. Also, if you use gmail, the freebie could have gone to your promotions tab. Follow up with me by email here [email protected] once you have it! Thanks πŸ™‚

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