planning time in teaching

How to cut down on your planning time when you are new to teaching

Planning overload!

When we first start out in teaching, it can be incredibly overwhelming. There is so much to remember and do and oh yes, don’t forget to actually teach too! It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to work out why teacher retention is dropping.

However, teaching can be fun, fulfilling and rewarding so how can you ensure that you are enjoying your job and not drowning in never-ending tasks?

(I have talked before about ways you can reduce marking and feedback. If you are interested in reading more, you can find it HERE.)

Smarter not harder

When I first started, there was a saying of ‘work smarter not harder’ and I hated it! People kept saying it to me but no-one actually told me how to achieve it. As I have gained more experience over the years, I can see this message had been well intended but it was only part of the message.

In this blog post, I will give you some ACTUAL IDEAS on how you can work smarter not harder in terms of planning.

In an ideal world

In an ideal world, we would have all the time we needed to plan individual and unique lessons with new resources and ideas. In reality, we know this just isn’t possible all of the time. As our time is so precious, we have to work out a way to balance all of the different aspects of teaching. So how can we ensure that we are not spending all of our time planning?

1. Give yourself a break

I know that when you are training, you are encouraged to think of unique and creative lessons. Yes, this is fantastic but when you are on a 90% timetable as a NQT, you will feel completely overwhelmed if you try and achieve this every single lesson.

There is nothing wrong with having a pattern and a predictability to your lessons especially when you are first starting out.¬†Having a bank of starter and plenary activities is okay too. You don’t have to think of a new one every time.

The plan / resources you go into a lesson with are only half of the story. Remember, you are the best resource in the classroom and as you gain experience and confidence, you will make those resources your own. You will change the way you use them to fit in with your teaching style and your personality. However, in the meantime, while you are gaining that much needed experience, don’t re-invent the wheel.

If you are a languages teacher, I have created a bank of 22 games and activities which you can copy, adapt and use in your own lessons. I will be putting this up for sale next week but if you would like to get it for FREE, then click HERE

2. Adapt existing resources

These might be online resources or ones from colleagues but there is nothing wrong with using existing resources. TES have some great resources for most subjects. In addition, there are other websites you can use.

For MFL:

  • Teachit languages
  • lightbulb languages
  • BBC languages
  • You Tube

For English:

  • Lit Drive.

If you know of anymore for other subjects, then please leave a comment below to help other colleagues find them.

3. Sharing resources 

This can be done within departments or online. Within departments is a great idea as it not only ensures consistency but increases social interaction which is so important for our well-being. Most schools have a shared drive/ folder where you can see resources other teachers have created. If your school doesn’t have one, why not introduce one?! You can add any that have worked well and encourage other colleagues to do the same.

Sharing resources online is a great way to support each other especially if you are feeling isolated at your school. Not only does it mean that you are exposed to different perspectives, ideas and resources but it can help you to see that you are a not alone. Search Facebook for support groups for your subject area.

I have my own group which is specifically for NQTs which you can join HERE.

4. Don’t get caught up with differentiated lesson outcomes.

There has been a lot of talk recently about differentiated lesson outcomes. Some people say they are vital and some, a waste of time. My personal opinion is that there is a time and a place for them. If they work well and it makes sense to the lesson to have them in, then you should absolutely include them.

However, if you are spending longer than 10 minutes coming up with them then STOP! Think about what you want the students to know, why and how it fits into the bigger picture and plan to share this with your class and then MOVE ON!


Don’t compare yourself to other teachers. Believe me, I know how hard this is. It is especially hard when you are first starting out as you feel that you have so much to learn and therefore by default, everyone else must be doing it better. This is so NOT true. You are absolutely enough just as you are.

You’ve got this,


Much love,

Kate x

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