Organized Charm

Saturday, September 23, 2017

How I Organized My $3 Target Lesson Planner

This year, I chose to save myself some money and create my Lesson Planner Fixer Upper style. So, I took a really cheap lesson planner ($3) and put a lot of work into it to make it my own. 

It took some time, but I will say that it is now EXACTLY what I want for the school year! 

I recently shared why I’m choosing to use a cheap Target lesson planner over the Erin Condren Lesson Planner this year. You can read about that here. 

Today, I’m going to share just how I’m using this Target planner and how I’ve been able to make it work for me!

If you’re a fan of Target’s Dollar Spot, office supplies, and color-coding, this post is for you!

Overall Size:
First of all, I LOVE the size of this planner. I don’t feel like it’s too bulky or heavy. It’s easy to carry around in my bag and I could easily stick it in the pocket of a binder (which I sometimes do). 

The size and simplicity are the main reasons I chose to use this planner this year! 

Class Roster Pages:
This is one thing I find essential to a teacher lesson planner! When a kid is throwing up in my classroom, or there’s a fire drill, I don’t want to have to go to a separate resource for my parent contact info. 

I want it all right there in the book I use for everything else so I can grab it and go!

Classroom Map & Seating Chart:
Before I ever even got my classroom roster for this year, I went ahead and drew my seating charts for the carpet and tables. I very gently wrote in student numbers in pencil so that I can change them throughout the year… as I know I’ll do several times! 

Monthly View:
First of all, I really enjoyed putting in my own monthly tabs! I placed them to where I can see all of the months for my first semester, and all of the months of my second semester. Seeing all of the months at once means I can flip to the page I need quickly! 

I used the long Post-It tabs from Office Max and a Sharpie Extreme to make the tabs.

Weekly Tabs:
To make planning even more efficient, I numbered the weeks using Post-It flags. I color coded the flags to match the tabs from the monthly view, so that I could easily find the correct week when planning. 

I love how I’m able to flip back and forth between weeks/months during meetings!

Weekly Layout:
One reason the ECLP didn’t work well for me was because the weekly view was already so laid out. I really wanted to customize and color code according to subject instead of days. Here, I used Sharpie Highlighters to color code each subject. 

Then I simply crossed out the days we wouldn’t teach certain subjects. 

Weekly Planning:
The key word our school tells its teachers to be is "flexible". We do a lot of fun things throughout the school year that can sometime disrupt our best laid lesson plans. In order to plan flexibly, I use Post-It tabs that can easily be moved from week to week. 

These peel off easily and stay sticky even after being moved several times!

Writing Utensils:
Even though the paper is thin (which makes it super light to carry around!), I’ve been able to find tons of writing utensils that won’t bleed through the paper! Here’s what I use…

-Monthly Numbers + Non-Changing Dates: Staedtler Triplus Fineliner pen (turquoise)
-Weekly Subjects + Rows: Sharpie Highlighters (6 color pack)
-Lesson Plan Boxes + Activities: Bic Mechanical Pencil (#2)

Post It’s
-Monthly + Weekly Tabs: Sharpie Extreme (black)
-Moveable Lesson Plans: Tombow ABT (black)

Have you decided to create/customize a planner this year? If so, what did you do? What products helped? How did it turn out? Share your ideas below! :) 

Saturday, September 16, 2017

Why I'm Using a $3 Target Lesson Planner This Year

Y’all. The Dollar Spot has done it again. 

That’s right! I was there last week and picked up this SUPER ADORABLE lesson planner. 

“But why?” you might ask. 

“That thing looks like it might fall apart any minute and the paper is thin.” you might say. 

And you’d be right. The quality is not that great. The paper is cheap. The saying on the front will probably rub off the first time I slide it across my teacher table. 

But I still love it! 


Because it’s simple. 

You see, for the past two years, I have spent hours agonizing over which Erin Condren Lesson Planner cover I should choose. How many checklist sheets I need. How will I use the weekly layout? Then I’ve happily pulled out my credit card and ordered the $65+ planner. 

Which would be fine if I used it. But do I? 


Instead, I get excited on the day it arrives. I take photos. I flip through and look at all the beautiful pages. Then I take out those Date Dot Stickers and without fail I mess up some dates in all my excitement. Then I have to peel them off and rearrange them... leaving my planner looking wrinkled and ugly before I even start planning. 

(Call me crazy, but I think any planner over $50 should come with pre-dated monthly views)

Then I take the stickers from the back and stick them on the special dates of the upcoming school year… spring break, field trips, parent teacher conferences, etc.

But then something happens. I look at my planner and start to get overwhelmed. The colors on the stickers are cute, but they aren’t color coded. First world problems, I know. 

Then I start to write things in. More clutter. By the time I’m finished with filling in the August dates, I can barely stand to look at my planner! Is this crazy or what? How can an organizational tool make you feel simultaneously organized and overwhelmed? 

Then I start on the weeks. Admittedly, my school has a very strange schedule. I sometimes joke that “no two days are the same”. But it’s not a joke, it’s true. No two days at my school are the same… so it’s been challenging for me to figure out exactly how to work in the weekly layout. Even though I LOVE IT. 

Finally, after I’ve dragged my bulky, two-pound planner around for a few weeks, I’ll go to a faculty meeting and flip to the graph paper section, only to have everything fall out of the back pocket. And that’s when I stop using it. 

It’s usually the second week in September. 

Now don’t get me wrong. I LOVE the Erin Condren Lesson Planner. I really do. It’s beautiful, customizable, and has everything you could need as a teacher! It just doesn’t work for me. 

Maybe next year, I’ll feel up to giving the ECLP another try. 

But this year, I’m excited to save myself $62 (plus shipping) and stick with my $3 Target lesson planner with the white plastic coil and the cardboard cover :)

Have you tried the ECLP and found that it wasn’t for you? Or do you love yours and use it religiously? Share your thoughts below! 

Saturday, September 9, 2017

Reader Question: How Long Does it Take to Find a Job After College?

This is a question that post-grads ask all the time. 

The time between college and finding your first “real” job can be really frustrating. However, it’s important to remember that, just like everything else, it’s only temporary! 

When I was in undergrad, I envisioned myself graduating and immediately finding my dream job in a big law firm! When that didn’t happen right away, I got a little discouraged. I eventually did get a job in that field, only to discover it wasn’t the career for me... 

So I went to grad school for education. After graduating from grad school, do you think I had more realistic expectations for the job search process? Nope! I expected the first school I contacted to say “Wow! You have a shiny new Master’s Degree! Let us clear some room for you so you can start teaching here!”. 

I had to start from the bottom all over again. That’s just how it works.  

(5 Things Recent Grads Need to Know)

If you’re struggling to get your resumé noticed, or to get called in/back for an interview, here are a couple of things to keep in mind! 

Experience is King

Even after you complete the education aspect of a job, there is still the experience aspect to get through. And because most recent graduates are pretty young, the only way to gain experience in your field is to get it however you can! 

Even with your degree, be prepared to start at an “entry level” position. Sometimes this is because you’re young. Sometimes it’s all that’s available. Sometimes it’s because the company sees potential in you, but wants to see if you’re reliable first. 

Never think a job in your desired field is “beneath” you. Everyone has to start somewhere, so don’t worry! You’ll get where you’re trying to go! Maybe just not as quickly as you thought you would. So, how can you get this experience that everyone seems to be so interested in? 

In my experience, volunteering has been the best way!

(5 Common Post Grad Problems and How to Deal with Them)

Volunteer Within Your Field

After college, when I was trying to get my first job as a paralegal, my interviewer really liked it that I had interned with another attorney in the building while I was in school. Everyone talks, too, so make sure to leave every situation (paid or unpaid) on good terms! Everyone that you work with or for is a potential reference that you can list when you’re searching for your next job! Put in 100%, even if the work you’re doing is free. 

When I was leaving the legal field and trying to get my first job in a school setting (before going to grad school or becoming a certified teacher), my interviewer really liked it that I had been voluntarily teaching Sunday School for a few years. That was literally my only experience working with kids (aside from babysitting), and it was the only relevant thing I had to put on my resumé, so on my resumé it went! 

(How to Create Long Term Goals)

Keep a Positive Attitude

This one’s hard. It’s really, really hard. And the longer you’ve been looking, the harder it can be to continue. But the next resumé you send out could be the one! And if there’s a specific company you know you want to work for, keep contacting them Blair Waldorf style! :) 

The time between finishing college and starting a career can be really discouraging, stressful, and unpredictable... Just remember that YOU ARE NOT ALONE! It was hard for everyone! 

In the words of a very wise blue fish, just keep swimming! You’ll get there :) 

(How to Actually Accomplish Your Goals)

What is the biggest challenge you’re facing while looking for a job? Or, if you have your job, what was the best advice you received? How long did it take? 

Further Reading:

This survey from may make you feel better! 

The Balance has a really great post on Making it Between College and Your First Job

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