Best Day Planners For Teachers Living Abroad14 min read

Day planners for teachers can sometimes be hard to find when living abroad. Part of it is because the planners you will find are usually in a language you don’t understand. Sometimes it is also because the culture of the country you are living in doesn’t place as much importance on time and schedule planning as you may be used to in your home country. Either way, if you are an ESL teacher who likes to stay organized and productive then finding a suitable planner will be important to help you as you transition abroad to teach.

Why do I need a planner?

Many people underestimate just how busy teachers really are. Multiple classes with 15 plus students each a few times a week adds up to hundreds of tests, worksheets, essays, presentations, and lectures that must be meticulously planned out over the course of a year. This ensures that if you do not put in place some system of organization that you are going to be incredibly stressed and your teaching will suffer because of it.

A day planner is the easiest way to implement a system of organization that will ensure a more streamlined classroom and will keep what can be an incredibly stressful process of planning a school year from being a massive headache.

What should I look for in a planner?

The most important thing for a teacher is to have a monthly calendar and a weekly one so that they can get both a broad and a narrow view of what they have to do each day and each week and each month. This isn’t going to be a big deal with an electronic based calendar as they are going to have all of the different levels of hourly, daily, weekly, monthly, and yearly planning options. However, when you are deciding on a paper-based planner you are going to have to look at the options it gives you as space is going to be much more limited. A paper-based planner, for example, would be entirely too large if it broke down all the way to the hourly level. As such, most day planners at the most will have the monthly planner and then maybe a weekly planner with each day listed out in a space. Having that weekly option is going to be important for giving you the space you need to really plan out your lessons and see what exactly you are going to do each week.

You are also going to want to look for planners that are undated. This means that they are general planners and give you the option of writing in the dates as opposed to having the year and months and days pre-written. This ensures that no matter when you buy it you will be able to utilize all of the space instead of wasting half of a calendar because you bought it in September to begin the school year but it started in January at the beginning of the year.

Other than these options you want to make sure that if you do opt for a paper-based planner that you go with one that is durable. The daily wear that a paper planner will go through being dragged in and out of bags, coffee, and water stains, and anything else that it may endure during the school year means that if you go for something that is not durable that it will fail on you and leave you looking for another option. Something you want to avoid as much as possible lest you have to spend an evening transferring all of your information from your broken and torn up day planner to your new one.

Should I use a paper or electronic planner?

This is going to be largely dependent on your individual preferences and deciding on which you will actually use more. For me, I prefer using a paper-based planner as I find it easier to quickly jot a note in my calendar than to open my phone and type out a message and a note and set a reminder. This doesn’t mean I am entirely dependent on my paper-based calendar. I use an electronic calendar when collaborating with other people. However, for the majority of the things I plan and for daily use I rely heavily on a paper-based day planner.

Not everyone is going to like toting around what amounts to a small book and a pen, however. There are a number of benefits to using an electronic calendar including not having to constantly check your planner as you can set alarms. It is also much more organized when a computer is mapping out your day and displaying it to you in a nice and neat user interface as opposed to a bunch of notes written that may or may not be in a particular order. If you are the type of person who is always on their phone and you feel more comfortable when your information is stored electronically and your alarms are set, then you will want to stick to that method.

The most important thing when you are choosing between paper or electronic is that you choose a system that you feel comfortable using every day and which you know you are going to check. If you decide on using a paper-based planner when you are more likely to use your phone then the chances that your planner is going to sit at the bottom of your bag or in a random drawer in your classroom is much greater. You have to decide which one you are more comfortable with and then make sure you stick to your system.

What are the top day planners for teachers?

Day-Timer Distressed Look Starter Set

Pros

  • Well organized with lines on each day of the month so that you can more easily write in what you need to without worrying about cluttering the square given. This is something I really like as one of the problems I’ve had in the past with planners is having too much information in one space and not being able to organize it in an aesthetic way. This can sometimes leave you feeling less organized instead of more.
  • The durable binder which the planner comes in ensures that this is going to last you for the entire school year. Because the planner is set up as papers that are inserted into the binder on rings you will also be able to easily replace the calendar when you are finished with a new set for the next school year. A much handier option than if you had to buy a new planner each year.
  • The planner comes with multiple page options including 1 page per day, 2 pages per day, and 2 pages per week so that you can choose which format is best for your needs. This is extremely helpful for teachers as you will be able to use the 2 pages per day option to more efficiently plan out your lessons for each class and anything else that you will need to do including attending meetings and grading papers.

Cons

  • The binder this planner comes in is incredibly large for a day planner. This is not something you are going to be carrying around in your pocket. If you like to carry a teacher’s bag then this may be a great option but if you are looking for something you can easily tote around then this might not be the best option for you.
  • The starter kit only comes with three months for the 1 and 2 page days. This means that you are going to have to purchase refill kits and even then will only be able to fit 4 to 5 months in the binder itself.
  • Some users of this day planner have complained that the ink used to print the pages has a tendency to stick to the binder. This means this may not be the best calendar for teachers who work in countries with high humid climates as the ink is more likely to cause the pages to stick together and to the binder.
Click For Price

House of Doolittle Combination Lesson Planner/Class Record Planner

Pros

  • This planner is geared towards teachers specifically. It has options for keeping your lesson plans for each day in order as well as managing your class seating charts and anything else you could need to organize as a teacher. This is handy as it is going to be more practical for teachers.
  • The outside of this planner is very sturdy and bound in a way that ensures it is going to last for the full year. Something that will come in handy for teachers who know they are rough on their supplies.
  • The calendar is organized in such a way that everything from student attendance to lesson plans to meetings and other activities to longterm grade tracking can be kept organized in an efficient and easy to read way. This means that there is little need for other books to keep track of attendance and grades as this provides an all-in-one solution.

Cons

  • This is created specifically for teachers so if you are looking for something that you can use both inside the classroom as well as throughout your day then this may not be the best option.
  • Some users have complained that the pages are too thin and markers tend to bleed through when used. This is something to think about if you like to use markers for recording attendance or grades or if you like using felt tip pens as it can lead to your records becoming messy overtime.
  • Some teachers in areas with longer school years have reported that there are not enough pages for all of the days and weeks that they are actually teaching classes and instead is better for teachers in countries and areas where the school year doesn’t go past 5 to 7 months.
Click For Price

Awesome Calendar (iOS and Android)

Pros

  • This is the first electronic organizing system on our list for teachers that prefer using their phones to keep all of their tasks and lessons organized. A great options for teachers who tote their phones everywhere they go and who like using electronic mediums more for organization.
  • The calendar is highly customizable so you will be able to set most of the app to how you specifically want to see everything. This is great as you will be able to use this app not just for planning everything in your classes but also for planning your personal time.
  • There are actually 3 functions in 1 in this app including a to-do list manager, a calendar, and a notes taking feature meaning you can easily keep track of everything you need to from your day-to-day lesson planning to the administrative aspects of being a teacher including staff and parent meetings and anything else your school may require of you.

Cons

  • Awesome Calendar was originally made for iOS which means that some of the features are not available on the Android version leaving the giant population of people who use Android potentially lacking.
  • As this is an electronic-based planner it may take a little getting used to how everything is laid out and making sure the app is completely customized to how you want it. This is in comparison to a paper-based planner where you can just write in what you need and you are done.
  • This is a general planner and wasn’t made specifically for teachers so there may be a few things such as attendance tracking and grade tracking that arent’ included which you may want. As such you will need to use other apps for those specific features meaning that you are going to have more tools to keep organized.

Elan Publishing Company 7 Period Lesson Planner

Pros

  • This day planner for teachers was specifically designed for busy teachers looking to keep their lesson plans and classrooms organized. There are multiple different sections allowing you to spread out your lesson plans and to plan out your day with the 12-month calendar.
  • Unlike the other calendars on this list, this particular planner comes in various designs so you can easily find one that you like and personalize the way that you plan your day.
  • This is a hardcover day planner which means it is going to be durable and last the entire school year. If you are rough on your things then this will be something to pay particular attention to as you don’t want your day planner breaking in the middle of the school year with all of your information in it.

Cons

  • Some teachers who have used this day planner have reported that there aren’t enough pages for the grade reporting and attendance tracking sections and they had to buy backups to have enough space for the year. This will be a particular problem if you are a teacher with a large number of classes but may not affect you if you don’t have too many classes or small student numbers.
  • Some teachers have complained that the months which are pre-dated aren’t enough for their entire school year. If you teach in a country that has a longer school year than many you might be better finding a day planner for teachers that is undated or has the full calendar year instead of just the normal 6 to 8 months of the school year.
  • This day planner is pre-dated which may not be suitable for all teachers as it may not have the exact dates you need. For example, this planner ends in mid-June but many teachers who have reviewed this day planner have mentioned that their classes end in late June. You will have to check your school year versus what the dates are in this planner.
Click For Price

Google Calendar

Pros

  • Google Calendar can be synced between your phone and your computer so no matter where you go or what you are doing you will easily have access to your calendar and everything will be synced together so that you don’t have multiple copies around different devices.
  • A major benefit of Google Calendar is that events can be shared with other people so, for example, you may be able to create events to share with other teachers or in your personal life with your friends. This can come in handy if you will be doing things with a large number of other people who also use Google Calendar.
  • If you use other Google products such as Gmail you can sync these together so that when you receive an email it will schedule it into your calendar without you having to do any extra work. This can save you a lot of time that would normally be spent planning your day.

Cons

  • One of the problems that I’ve found with using calendar apps is that it can sometimes take more time to enter events into the app than it would for you to write the event down in a paper-based calendar. This will largely come down to personal preference and if you are the type of person who enters more into your phone than your notebook this probably won’t be a problem.
  • Google Calendar is a general planning tool and lacks some of the features more specific to teachers that some of the other paper-based planners on this list contain such as a grade book, attendance recording, and activities planner.
  • Many of the truly beneficial aspects of Google Calendar are only available when used in conjunction with other Google products. So, if you are not a heavy user of Google’s many services you may not be getting the full benefit of your Google Calendar.

I want to help you find an awesome job in the ESL industry and then excel at it. I’m a TESOL certified teacher with over two years of experience working both online and offline. I have worked with students ranging from young learners to advanced level university speakers and have worked in recruiting and hiring, teacher training, and content creation. I’ve seen the good and bad of the ESL industry and I’m here to tell you about it.