The true symbol of being a teacher? Your daily planner. I still remember getting my first planner. It was exciting! It symbolized that I had arrived and was truly a teacher! I remember being some upset when I made a mistake in numbering the days (I was always planning ahead!). So I found some whiteout and carefully renumbered (Yes, type A personality). The end of the year arrived and I wasn’t sure what to do with the planner. What happens to it? Just happens that it came up while I was winning at Cribbage (don’t ask me how it came up, I was winning) and I found out that there were a number of veteran teachers who had their planners from when they started – whole filing cabinet drawers full! Well, suitably impressed, I labeled mine and put it away. The following year I moved across the province but my now two planners went with me. This lasted through two more moves.
We were moving yet again and I came across this box of planners. “What am I doing with these? Why am I hauling these things all over the province (literally all over the province of Saskatchewan)? As I began to leaf through them, I noticed how my planning had changed and how I was more comfortable with not writing out every single lesson plan but instead indicating objectives, resources, assignments, birthdays, field trips and other important things. But, did I really need to keep them. I know, I know. They are the property of the school board for which I work but would anyone come looking for these now? I mean, really, I’m moving to a new school division, 3 removed from my first planner. But, for some reason, I kept them.
Two years later, guess what. We moved to our present location. Now, for a year I had been using a laptop for my work and had transferred my dayplanning to it. I didn’t have a planner for that year – just a disk. As I starred at that box, still with the packing tape around it, I realized that I needed to part with these planners. So, in a ceremony close to that in which Luke gives his father, I took my planners home to my parent’s farm (which, ironically, was the town in which I began teaching and hauling them around) and burnt them. Since I use a laptop, I keep my information on file and just download.
This week, as I was in my office, I heard some of the teachers discussing this exact same thing in the hall. Two of the teachers from the staff are retiring and they have kept their planners. Some of the comments I heard were “Imagine the changes you find” and “I bet so&so’s marks are in there. Wow!” The conversation continued for awhile and they moved on. What I was left wondering was “Would we find any change? Would we notice any significant difference over the years?” I know that I rarely did the same thing twice from year to year even when I had the same grade for 7 years. Each year I’d change what we studied, read, examined and explored simply because the students were different and things that worked with the previous year wouldn’t work the next. Now, I’ve used some of the same materials and information, as long as it was relevant. But, my goal was to always improve what students were using so that they could develop greater understanding. I wasn’t always successful but that was my purpose.
I ditched the paper planner. I have most of my planning on disk and am in the process of moving it to a wiki so that other teachers can use some of the ideas. I will do all my new planning using a wiki so that I can access it anywhere and open it up for people to add ideas and build their own learning repository. The great thing about this is I can add URL’s, videos, photos, sound clips or whatever easily to my plans and they are then accessible in my classroom – if the internet is working. If not, well I always make sure I have something planned for those days so that things can continue. In fact, the more I plan in this manner, the better I am becoming at developing a plan that is flexible and, I’m hoping, more student focused and lead since I can adjust what we are doing simply through adjusting some of what I have on the wiki. And I like the videos – it’s so great to use them as openers in a class.
As for the daily planner that was such a symbol of becoming a teacher? Maybe we need to distribute jump drives or laptops instead. I mean, the value you would get from one laptop over the lifetime of a teacher? But, of course, it’s moving away from “school”. We just ordered more planners for staff a few weeks ago – minus one for me. Guess I should extend that option to all staff! Maybe I’d keep all my “planners” this way – all there on a 4 gig drive.
Nah! I’m always looking for more space for music and photos anyway. Check it out. Who has a planner and who uses an electronic planning device and does anyone use a wiki? Where are you?