I was contacted by a representative of Erin Condren.com to do a review of their 2015-2016 Teacher Lesson Planner. I was THRILLED to say YES! I love Erin Condren’s products and had actually used the teacher planner during the 2013-2014 school year so I was anxious to see what had been updated/changed for the upcoming school year. Before I made my first Erin Condren purchase a few years ago I (of course) searched the web for pictures/reviews/videos. With that said, my goal for this post is to share the awesomeness of the teacher planner (as well as some other Erin Condren goodies) but also to be honest in my thoughts on the planner and its components. This post could will be quite lengthy. The pictures will enlarge if you click on them. ALSO: If you are interested in the teacher planner or any other item, at the end of this post is a code for $10 off your first order! Yeah!
The first items I want to talk about are the Cool for School sticker book and the Colorful Date Dots. The Cool for School sticker book is a totally neat idea because teachers love stickers, right?! The stickers are a great quality and many of them have metallic shiny gold on them making them look just really awesome! There are inspirational quote stickers as well as stickers to mark meetings and such. I will say this – the stickers are not specific to just teaching. These stickers are for teachers OR students. (If you’re in grad school these stickers will be great for you! If grad school is ancient history for you or no where in your future then a couple of the stickers may not be useful to you (Study, Paper Due, All Nighter, etc…..although, sometimes I feel like I’m pulling an All Nighter if I procrastinate on lesson planning!) The last four pages in the sticker book are upper and lowercase letters and numbers. At first, they didn’t excite me as much as the other stickers in the book, but they are alphabet stickers so really, the ways you could use them are pretty much endless! Make a bookmark, make a reading level chart of some kind, laminate them and use them for making words activities, honestly…I bet if you go on Pinterest and search for “ways to use alphabet stickers” you’ll find a million ideas! There are two pages in the book that are identical. I created a Flipagram that shows every single page in the book (see below).
They really are gorgeous stickers! Especially these pages….love them!!
For a person who is a teacher AND a student – you’ll be able to use all of these stickers! If you’re JUST a student, you could use almost all of them, and if you’re JUST a teacher, you could use almost all of them. Personally, there are a few I wouldn’t use just because I have my master’s degree and have zero desire to take any more classes and some of them wouldn’t apply to me as a non-student, primary teacher.
If you’ve ever purchased an Erin Condren teacher lesson planner before, then you know the monthly calendars are undated. For some, that’s a big deal. I didn’t mind too much. I just wrote them in all in at one setting and done. Erin Condren makes this easier now with the Colorful Date Dot stickers.
The stickers color coordinate with the monthly calendar colors. They’re cute, and if writing the dates in all the little bubbles isn’t exciting for you, these stickers could save you a little time. I think they’re pretty handy and since I love color (and hate my own handwriting!) these stickers are perfect for people like me.
Speaking of the monthly calendars, they have an updated look from the planner I purchased in 2013.
I like the new version MUCH better! The small Saturday/Sunday boxes in my old planner were sort of awkward looking and difficult to write in. I also like how the small previous month and upcoming month calendars are in the bottom corner of the new layout.
Another new product available this year are the snap-in StylizedSticky notes.
These are stinkin’ cute! What teacher doesn’t need sticky notes?! (The picture above shows the sticky notes out of the package and beside the colorful backing card that comes in the package.) I love that there are a variety of sizes and that there are smaller page flag sized ones. Sometimes I don’t need a whole huge post-it note to write something on. I have actually cut up post-it notes before to make them smaller. These are perfect for adding little notes to your planner pages. It has the slits cut on the plastic backing so they snap right into your planner wherever you want them! And… call me crazy, but I LOVE the rainbow striped backing in the package! The scrapbooking/plannergirl side of me is dying to use it for something juicy! It’s too pretty not to use! When you use all 300 of the adorable sticky notes, you could just stick some other sticky/post-it notes onto the plastic and use those (or buy more EC ones because they are so cute!!)
I also received some of the Chalkboard Compliment Cards. This is honestly, a product I probably wouldn’t have purchased for myself. After seeing them in person though – they are amazing!! They feel…fabulous! Seriously, touching them makes me happy! They have great inspirational quotes on the front and the back is blank so you can write a note.
These are totally adorable! You could use them to encourage/motivate students or your colleagues by writing little notes on them or even using them as a gift tag. How awesome would a principal be if they had some of these and passed them out to staff with little notes after an observation or just because! I love these little cards! My only wish is that the backside were more colorful. (But that’s just because I wish everything in the world could be rainbow colored!) Erin Condren also sells two other sets called Bold Brights (they have more color on the back) and Classic (also more colorful on the back). These are seriously cute!
I was happy to get some of the Erin Condren “Party Pops” markers to also try out. I never used the old Erin Condren marker/pens but I did read mixed reviews on them. I was excited to try the new ones out. They write great! They are very similar to a Papermate Flair pen that so many teachers love. I love the little plastic case they come in – very cute. The colors are very fun and summery! They are fine tip and .88mm.
Okay – now for the planner itself (which may be the reason you came to read this post anyway!) I was sent the Ready to Ship Teacher Lesson Planner. This works like the RTS Life Planners if you are familiar with those. It comes with a cover that you cannot customize. If you opt for no customization then you receive your planner a little sooner. The planner comes for a code that you can redeem later for your customized cover. This is a great feature in my opinion because it allows you to get your planner a little quicker so you can begin using it but you can still get the custom cover you want later! (Annnnd….since the cover is removable you could technically switch the front and back covers around!)
What a great quote!
When I purchased the teacher lesson planner back in 2013, I looked at the reviews/videos I could find because I wanted to see the inside pages! So what I’m going to do is show you the new pages compared to the old ones and discuss some of the changes I noticed. (I do not show all of the pages from my old planner due to some private/personal information on them.)
I personally don’t leave my lesson plan book for substitutes. I literally type out every single little thing for a sub and leave those plans on my desk, so this page isn’t really useful for me. I never really have many volunteers (maybe one a year if I am lucky), so the volunteer and event page didn’t really get used. I mark events and field trips on monthly calendars instead.
There are two pages of holidays and dates to remember. The dates included are the same as before. A couple of the people listed I had not heard of, to be quite honest. Some of it seems a little…random. I appreciate the fact the holiday dates are included but I usually just look that up on the computer real quick if I need to know.
I like that the month headers are colored in the new version.
The pages are similar in design. There are six total pages to record absences on. That’s a LOT of absences! I didn’t use these at all as my district has teachers enter in absences online. This pages could be modified and turned into something else. (I mention this again later.)
I didn’t use the graph paper pages in my old planner but it could be useful. You can use it for notes, planning classroom arrangements, or actually make a graph. I’m thinking this would have been a great place for me to track Fall, Winter, and Spring Reading and Math MAP assessment scores.
The older version is more colorful. Could use these pages to track duties, trips, meetings, PD’s, generic curriculum overview, etc.
Another look at the calendar pages. New on top. Old on bottom. I like the new one so much better!
The new pages are a little lighter in color (I miss the owl! But like that on the new ones it’s a green apple and not a red one!)
The colors are a bit lighter on these pages too compared to my old planner. I used these for grades at the beginning of the year but then I started using an app on my iPad. Checklists are always hands though! So many uses!
Stickers are always fun! Includes two sheets of blank ones as well.
As always, there is a folder in the back that is two sided. BUT…if you add some washi tape to the bottom then you have an inner “pouch” to store things also! The folder is a nicer quality than before. And in the pouch there are some fun new goodies – sticker samples, coil clip sample, compliment cards, referral cards.
Now let me discuss my planner from 2013 for just a bit. I remember I was so excited to order and receive it. I’ll just be brutally honest here – I hate lesson planning. I mean, at the end of a school year, during the summer, and even mostly during the month of August I am really excited about the idea of new students and new possibilities and I have a list of projects from Pinterest I am just dying to make and then reality hits me and I am reminded of how little time there actually is both during the school day and at home after school (there is never enough time in a day!) and lesson planning becomes a hassle and a chore. This is probably due to the fact that at my school SO MUCH is required to be in our lesson plans. I’m seriously surprised I don’t have to list my blood type on there. I wanted to hand write my plans that year but… to be honest…. I hated doing that!! Ugh! I needed to type my plans, and because of the STUFF I needed to include the cute, colorful squares in an already printed and bound lesson planner weren’t going to work for me. I LOVED my planner though, so I found a way to make it work. I typed, printed, cut out, and glued my lesson plans into my Erin Condren teacher planner. It. Was. BEAUTIFUL!
Now, it did make a little extra work for myself. It wasn’t soooo bad though, and I really was pleased with how it looked. (In fact, I just took the picture above on Friday in preparation to write this review and I really LOVED looking back through my plans! It was almost like a teaching scrapbook of sorts. I seriously am in love with the way this worked out for me. But…eventually we all get into “survival mode,” am I right? (It seems like I get into that mode earlier and earlier each year!) Eventually, cutting and gluing my plans was too much for me. Looking back, this is probably because I would wait to finish my plans until Sunday nights and then I wouldn’t print them until Monday morning. I am not a morning person, so I’d get to school at the last few minutes possible and didn’t have time to cut and glue so I just stuck my plans in my planner. Warning: the next picture is shocking…
That is absolutely HORRIFYING but is 100% REAL LIFE people!! Last week of April, the pod printer was running out of ink (obviously) and I didn’t even care enough to print my plans with good ink at home. The paper quality must also be really cheap and thin since you can see the pretty Erin Condren colors underneath. What ended up happening was I just typed my plans into my old template, printed them, and paper clipped them (or just stuck them into) my planner. Not proud how it looks, but remember the other picture? My plans were BEAUTIFUL before I went into extreme survival mode. Most of that beauty is because of the Erin Condren teacher planner for sure!
My overall thoughts: I LOVE Erin Condren products and the teacher lesson planner is amazing! The quality is awesome and let me just say that I have never, ever had an issue with any of my previous orders. I think the teacher lesson planner really is the ONE planner a teacher could need. You could literally keep everything you need in this one planner: plans, schedules, grades, meeting/PD notes, etc. If there are pages that don’t really fit your need- change them! There are so many ideas online about how to make changes to your planner so you can get the most out of it (even some Facebook groups). I personally don’t think a teacher needs that many pages for absences (unless maybe you teach high school?) You could easily change that page to track parent contacts! Put some washi tape at the top and cover what’s already there or tape a small piece of paper over it and change the heading to what you need it to be. Some people feel they shouldn’t have to make any modifications to something they invested their hard earned money in but honestly – there is no one size fits all planner out there that will be 100% everything you want it to be. Every teacher is different and every school/district has different requirements.
Last year, my principal started requiring teachers to submit our lesson plans into an online system. Therefore, I needed to have an electronic lesson plan. If your district requires the same, one solution is to take a picture of your plans using your camera or a document scanning app and uploading them online that way. If your school requires a lot in your plans like mine did (Core Content numbers, I can statements, special services, KSI times, etc.) you can either write them in (if you write tiny), type them, print, cut and glue like I did in 2013-2014, or insert a printout with a coil clip and just move it to the next page each week. (And….dare I say…some people uncoil their planners and rearrange the pages into the order they want and then recoil them.)
If you do reading and/or math small groups and have separate plans for those, you could type your lesson plans like I did at the end of the year (in that horrifying picture) and staple them at the top of the page. Then you could lift that page up and write your small group plans in the actual Erin Condren planner boxes underneath.
The quality is fantastic and offers a lot of neat features. Although I didn’t show in any of the pictures, the back of the planner has a sheet protector as well. You can add additional sheet protectors and checklist pages for an additional charge. If you want everything in one place, this is truly an amazing planner! Obviously, printing out your plans on plain printer paper is completely functional and simple and gets the job done just fine. However, if you’re the type of person who wants things cute, colorful, customized, organized and trendy then this planner would be perfect for you! I felt a little more “legit” as a teacher, as funny as that sounds!
If you want $10.00 off your order read this!!! If you’ve never ordered from Erin Condren before, you’re in luck! If you go to their website and create an account using my referral link, Erin Condren will email you a Coupon Code for $10 off your first order! The coupon code will be active for 30 days from when you register.
As I mentioned, Erin Condren did give me these items to review (THANK YOU!) , and I enjoyed comparing the new planner to my old one. I think all of the new goodies available are fabulous! (The sticky notes are my favorite!) I hope the photos helped you get a better idea of what’s included and I’d be happy to answer any questions you may have if you ask in the comments below!