5 Planning Tips to to Help You Achieve Work-Life Balance

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Show Notes:

Can teachers really get all of their lesson planning done during their contract hours?

This is probably the holy grail of teacher questions. Is it actually possible? The answer is yes, it absolutely is. 

Now I know what some of you may be thinking. You have very short planning times, you are spending your evenings planning, or you have to submit lengthy plans to your admin. The thought of planning during school hours seems like an unrealistic dream. I hear you, and we take all of these factors into consideration during our conversation.

Today I’m joined by my close friend, Sara Marye, and we’re tackling this hot topic. Sara is sharing five great tips for lesson planning so that you can take back your nights and weekends by planning more efficiently and more effectively. 

Sara Marye has over a decade of experience working as a classroom teacher and school administrator. She is now a literacy specialist who is passionate about helping elementary teachers around the world grow their students into lifelong readers. Sara's mission is to make teachers' lives a little easier by providing them with endless encouragement, effective strategies, and engaging, no-fluff resources. Sara is also the host of the Stellar Teacher Podcast, where she loves to share her favorite literacy tips each week.

Sara explains that during her first year of teaching, she was spending a huge amount of time working on her lesson plans because she knew how important they were. As Sara says:

“Our lesson plans are the backbone of what we do. We have standards that we need to teach our students by the end of the year, and the way we make sure we do that is through having strong lesson plans.

You can be great at classroom management, you can have a wonderful classroom community, you can have the most beautiful classroom decor, but if you don't know how to effectively plan your lessons, all of those things are only going to be so effective because you're missing the meat of it.”

So we know that lesson plans are a crucial piece of teaching, but it doesn’t have to be a time suck. As she spent hours and hours planning on nights and weekends, Sara realized pretty quickly that it wasn’t going to be sustainable for her, plus she didn’t want her entire life to be centered around work! She craved a work-life balance, and over time she was able to achieve that.

Now Sara is here to tell us all about her personalized planning system that will allow you to learn how to get everything done during your contract hours. You’ll hear about time blocking, mindset shifts, the  “done is better than perfect” mentality, and more.

These tips will give you the tools you need to continue creating incredible and effective lessons for your students without spending hours on the planning. Your future self will thank you for listening!

Just remember that planning is a practice similar to any other skill that you learn in teaching. It can take the first year (or two, or three) to figure out the system that works for you. Be patient with yourself and know that it will take time to get to a place where you can consistently save time with your planning.

Inside this week's show, you'll learn:

  • Why lesson planning is so important for teachers to focus on.
  • Two key goals to consider when you are planning high-quality lessons.
  • Why it’s crucial to be efficient with your lesson planning if you want to continue to feel fulfilled as a teacher and avoid burnout. 
  • Mindset shifts that need to happen if you want to spend less time at work and more time doing things you love. 
  • Your first step to take immediately if you want to decrease time spent working on lesson plans.
  • Tips on what to do if your school has requirements such as submitting your lesson plans, or planning with your team.
  • Setting, and holding, firm boundaries to protect your planning time.

Links & resources mentioned inside this episode:

Connect with Sara Marye:

I hope this information is helpful as you prepare for your first, second, or third year of teaching. Until next time, remember, just because you're a beginning elementary teacher, there's no need for you to struggle like one.

πŸ’› Lori

Dr. Lori Friesen | Beginning Teacher Mentor

Creator of the R.E.A.D.Y. for School Academy, Dr. Lori Friesen has mentored thousands of beginning teachers across the country through her workshops and courses. Host of the popular podcast, Beginning Teacher Talk, and creator of the innovative literacy program for 1st and 2nd grade, Dogs Help Kids Read and Succeed, Dr. Lori is dedicated to serving educators and inspiring learners. Learn more at and at

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