How I Plan My Lessons (And My Life)

I don’t know about you, but whenever someone posts a picture of a planner on Instagram, I am always ZOOMIN’ in to creep on the plans/planners. I’m just so fascinated in how other teachers plan, and apparently many of my followers feel the same about the plans that I post! I always get questions about my planners and how I plan, so I thought I would share more with everyone, mainly because I am obsessed with my two Happy Planners. Yes, I have two full size planners, but I’ll get to that in a minute. First, let me explain my love for Happy Planners. (FYI: I’m not sponsored, just obsessed. But, hey, Happy Planner brand, if you’re reading…I’m available).

If you’re a teacher who is ballin’ on a budget, you’ll love Happy Planners. These planners are Erin Condren dupes for a FRACTION of the cost! At full price, most Happy Planners are $30-35, but I’ve always been able to use a coupon or snag one while it was on sale. You can find them at Michael’s, JoAnn’s, Hobby Lobby, Meijer, Staples, Walmart, and Amazon, but the selection varies because these planners are so popular. I purchased my 2018 planners for $15 each during a Michael’s sale right around New Year’s Day, but I had to search to find a store with decent inventory. 


Both of mine are 2018 “BIG Happy Planners,” dated from January to December. The “BIG” models that I have are just slightly larger than Happy Planner’s classic versions.  I like the bigger ones because I need more space to write my lessons and ALL OF THE THINGS on my to-do lists.

Happy Planner also offers 18-month planners that begin in July 2018, so these would be perfect for going back to school. They also carry undated planners that you could use for any year. You can shop on the Happy Planner website, but I also linked up a few of my faves on my Amazon favorites. Even though my current planners take me to the end of 2018, I’ve had my eye on this July 2018-December 2019 “farmhouse” style planner because it is so adorable and channels those Joanna Gaines Fixer Upper vibes that I love. If I buy an extra planner, I’m sure I can find a purpose for it, right?! Maybe one to plan and schedule more blog posts for you all!

LESSON PLANNING (Black & gold “2018” planner)

After two years of online lesson planning via my beloved Planboard, I returned to paper planning in 2018. But I didn’t abandon my Planboard; rather, I resolved to type up my plans online AND then rewrite them in my physical planner. Am I crazy? Maybe! But this method works for me. The plans I write down in my Happy Planner are short and sweet versions of the plans I document on Planboard. I love the digital organization of Planboard, but I crave those old-fashioned planning sessions with my Happy Planner and Flair pens. 

There is something therapeutic in writing my plans out on paper on a Sunday evening (or a Monday morning during my first period prep…whoops). It helps me prepare for the week ahead and it reinforces the plans in my memory. Studies have shown that physically writing information improves one’s memory, whereas merely typing away on a keyboard does not. When I write my plans down and leave my planner open on my desk, it is so much easier for me to remember what I’m doing from period to period. I teach 7 classes a day, with 3 different preps, so this is essential for me. (Next year, I’ll have 4 preps!) I am constantly switching gears, and it’s easier to flip through a paper planner than to search the 27 open tabs on my computer.

I also love my Happy Planner for lesson planning because it has a vertical layout with 3 different sections. This is perfect for my 3 different preps: American Studies (English 11), Journalism, and Newspaper. It provides just enough space to write clear and concise plans that can guide me throughout my lessons. 

I will admit that I do not have to submit lesson plans to my administration. If I did, I would submit detailed plans on Planboard. I do have to show administration evidence of purposeful planning for my teacher evaluation, and Planboard works perfectly for that. My Happy Planner is more for me. It helps me prepare and stay on track while teaching. Here are some pictures of my planner and my weekly lesson plans. One day, I hope to compile an entire semester or year of plans to post on my blog…ONE DAY!


This slideshow requires JavaScript.

LIFE PLANNING (Gold & pastel “What a beautiful day” planner)

I’m laughing at the phrase I just typed, because I don’t know if you could call my to-do lists and mad scribbling “life planning,” and I also just realized that this planner is still dominated by teaching tasks. What is life outside of teaching, anyways?! I’m (half) joking!

My second planner is where I write down all of my never-ending to-do lists, which are littered with more sassy comments of “Nope, not today,” “I tried :(,” and “LOL” than actual check-marks indicating the completion of a task. But whatever, that’s not the point. The point is that I am TRYING to get my life together, right? If I keep on trying, 365 days a year, with my planner, it will happen eventually, through osmosis or something, I suppose. 

I am an obsessive list-maker. I create tomorrow’s to-do lists before today’s are finished. I used to rely on random stationary to make most of my to-do lists, but now I organize almost all of them in my Happy Planner. I especially like how my the Happy Planner is divided into 3 sections, because I use one what I want to get done during my prep, the other for what I should accomplish before I leave school, and then the final box for anything I need to do at home. Sometimes, I even write out tasks like “nap,” “read,” or “eat an entire pizza by myself,” just so I can feel accomplished after school. It’s the little things. 

If I’m feeling whimsical and have time to spare (or I want to procrastinate), I will whip out my stickers and washi tape and embellish my planner. It is fun and even relaxing, but I don’t do this often. In fact, I haven’t even done it at all in 2018, because this whole semester has been one of those days. If you’re interested in all of that planner decorating jazz, there are dozens of Insta-famous planner ladies who are much cooler than me. 

Below are some pictures of what my “life planning” really looks like. It’s not glamorous by any means. Notice how many of my tasks remain unchecked. When that happens, I simply move them to the next day. Like I said, everything gets done…eventually. It’s not pretty after I’ve gone through and written my notes, crossed items out, and pushed all of one day’s plans to the next day. But it works for me!


This slideshow requires JavaScript.

One more perk of Happy Planners: When your planner has served you through an entire year, and its time is up, you can salvage those pretty pages of quotes and designs and repurpose them as cute classroom decor. Just buy some cheap Dollar Tree frames, and you’ll have some adorable decorations! This is one reason why I most definitely judge a planner by its cover and pages before purchasing.


Happy Planning, everyone! I would love to hear how you plan in the comments!


  1. Heather @socialstudiessquared
    May 12, 2018 / 9:48 pm

    What did you use to do the slideshow? Also, I think you’ve convinced me to get a Happy Planner! I have been searching high and low for a good to-do list method!

    • May 12, 2018 / 10:08 pm

      The slideshow is an option on WordPress! It’s super simple. You’ll love your Happy Planner! 🙂

  2. May 13, 2018 / 7:21 pm

    I love how you planned just using the regular planner. I always felt I had to have the teacher planner, and it just felt like too much. I’ve tried both the Erin Condren and the Happy Planner, but I can’t decide which one I like better. I want to be one of those cutesy planner girls, but I’m just happy when I get things written down. I need to check out the digital planet you mentioned. My school does not require us to submit lesson plans either. We just have to have something written down and out in our class, but some teachers are clearly winging it with bad results so I wouldn’t be surprised if things will change.

  3. Deanna Hess
    May 14, 2018 / 2:00 pm

    Thanks for sharing! I am migrating to Planbook, but I will keep a paper/pen planner to organize my week. BTW, I really like the blog!

  4. Nikki
    July 4, 2018 / 1:06 pm

    I’ve never been a Happy Planner or Erin Condren fan, though I have tried them both. I vacillate between bullet journaling and using a 6 ringed A5 binder, but this year back to bullet journaling because they’re easier to archive. I love your messy planning. I, too, detail plan digitally and then write overviews in my paper planner. Works great!

  5. Megan
    June 2, 2019 / 1:28 pm

    I cannot find a vertical planning sheet like you have above. Any ideas?

    • writeonwithmissg
      March 6, 2020 / 10:31 pm

      Try Happy Planner! 🙂

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *