Why I Created The Happy Teacher Planner
Almost 5 years ago, I had to be signed off for anxiety.
Never in my life did I think I would be off sick from work because of my mental health. I come from a typical Jamaican family where discussions about mental health had a stigma attached. We are taught to be tough and to get on with it because we have to "work harder" than everyone else to be seen. This attitude coupled with the sheer pressure that comes with teaching made me burn out. After working from 8 am to 11 pm every day, lack of sleep and losing a great deal of weight from a loss of appetite, my body and brain were having none of it. I always saw myself as strong and independent but, at that moment, I felt completely weak and helpless. I didn't recognise myself. I told myself I would never go through that again and I knew I had to manage my mindset to ensure it did not.
This led to me creating The Happy Teacher Planner.
I'm not much of a blogger, but I wanted to write something to explain the inspiration for creating the planner and the reasons behind what's included in it. Although I'm obviously biased, The Happy Teacher Planner has helped me to manage my mindset when it comes to work, and I think this has become more important than ever teaching during a pandemic.
Reflection and Development Pages
Before you even begin using the planner at work, there are pages dedicated to reflection and goal setting. If you're anything like me, I get anxious for the first day back at school after the summer holidays. The summer reminds me that I'm a human being with a personality outside of teaching and I dread going back to the stress and fast-paced nature of it all. I created the reflection and development pages as a chance for you to mentally prepare for the academic year ahead and remind yourself of the reasons you love the job (I know I can't be the only one to doubt going into this profession sometimes). There's also a page to set professional and personal goals because we should all have other goals outside of work.
Most teacher planners I've bought have a blank table for planning lessons for the day or week. Personally, I like my planners to have clear sections and to-do lists. I usually buy a wellbeing planner for the year as I like the layout, colour and prompts. This was something I definitely wanted to include in The Happy Teacher Planner.
There are undated daily logs for the whole year that includes sections to outline the topic, resources and homework for each lesson; a to-do list and a notes section. The main feature for the daily logs is 'Today's Sparkly Moment'. This was important for me because I know it can be difficult to find a positive moment after a stressful day at work. I wanted teachers to have at least a moment each day where they found something that made them happy. It's horrible when you hold on to negative feelings for the whole day, affecting your mood and interactions with others, like your family.
The Weekly Reflection
This was another important feature for me. It can be difficult at times to reflect daily, so I wanted to factor in time for Happy Teacher users to perform reflection at least once a week. The Weekly Reflection includes a planning and preparation section for the next week and a section for you to rate your week. Using this score, you can consider the steps you need to take to improve or maintain your mood, productivity and class engagement the following week. Like the daily logs, there's an opportunity to note down things you did that made you happy.
I also think downtime is so important. We shouldn't spend the whole weekend (or much of our weekend at all) working, so there's a section to schedule your downtime activities. What's different to 2020's planner is the positive quotations or mindfulness activities you are given each week. I must say I'm proud of this new section because I included quotations from inspiring people and activities I do myself to help me manage my own mindset.
The Happy Teacher Planner includes homework and assessment trackers, CPD reflection pages, meeting notes and space for ideas and notes. I've also added 'brain dump' pages for times you need to declutter your mind. Sometimes we just need a space to get it all out. The planner also includes a timetable and 2021-22 academic calendar.
That's it. The Happy Teacher Planner explained.
A lot of hard work and love has gone into this planner. I really wanted to create something that could help improve the wellbeing of teachers. No teacher should have to experience mental health issues because of the profession and I hope to help in some way.
Invest in your happiness and your career. You shouldn't have to sacrifice one for the other.
You can pre-order the planner for July shipping. Alternatively, you can sign up to the mailing list for updates on the official release of the planner.