Planning for Hope: Purchasing a Planner for the School Year

It’s an ongoing joke that a 2020 planner was one of the most useless purchases. Somehow, I mustered up the courage to purchase one for the upcoming school year anyway.

As a high school teacher, I tend to purchase planners for a July-June span. My year starts in July to prep for school; it is filled with training and planning. I also like to “end” the year in my birth month of June. I enjoy the revolution reflection.

I opt for “The Simple Elephant” Planner

It hosts four different sections: goals, month at a glance, week at a glance, and notes.

These sections are blank and allow you to fill it in with what works for you. This may be daunting for some, but you’ve got options. You can fill it in as you go, or you can carve out some YOU time and channel some true thought into what you want to accomplish during the year.

In the GOALS section, it first prompts you to write some affirmations. All is well with the gratitude attitude. Next, you lay out five goals to work toward for the year. There is also space to create a Mind Map and a Vision Board.

Creating a Vision Board is my favorite part. I have a subscription to Better Homes and Gardens and also collect a few Runners World and Yoga Journals throughout the year. One of the best things I’ve done for my sanity was to automate my bills. Most of the things that arrive in my mailbox bring joy. Try it.

I save these magazines for Vision Board Day. I flip through them and find words and pictures that inspire me. It’s always intriguing to find subconscious goals lurking through these pictures. These images keep me focused on what you want to lure into my life. If you’d like more tips on the topic, check out Elizabeth Rider’s piece “The Reason Vision Boards Work and How to Make One.”

The Simple Elephant really focuses on mindset

When perusing through the weekly section, you will note that the top asks for you to address a goal for the week, as well as acknowledge the successes and solutions from the previous week. I enjoy that this planner is not just keeping track of what appointments or activities we do. It guides me to my goals and makes me feel empowered.

One habit I’ve tried to incorporate into my “planner” is that I also document what happens.

A trick that a wise aunt told me was to track when the boys get sick and what medication they take. Trying to remember which son had which ailment is wacky. Especially when they are super young. It could feel like the baby has had fifty ear infections, but they only had three in an eighteen-month span.

Giving myself some time on Sunday to reflect on what occurred that week while mentally preparing (as much as one can) has become a healthy practice for me. It’s one of the only things that has helped me manage life as Mom-Solo with my four little Jedis.

I have no way of knowing what is coming this school year. What I do know is I’m trying to have some kind of hope going into it. Hope that my own children will be healthy. Hope that I avoid contracting COVID again. Hope that our schools will be able to fulfill the educational needs of our students.

For months I’ve thought of a million reasons that I’m afraid to go back to school. I know that my classroom is usually one that is a safe space for my students. I fill it with positivity. In my classroom, I get to be magical. I get to teach teenagers creative solutions to figure out how to deal with often super difficult situations. I get to help them see themselves in a positive light when they are usually bombarded with lots of hard times.

I just realized that I will get to do that in the middle of a pandemic. I can help people feel better. Whether it ends up being virtual or in person, I can still share some light.

Let’s just say it’s one of my top goals.

Maybe 2021’s planner will still be a little different than anything I’ve experienced. I kind of hope it is. None of my goals mention anything about staying the same:)

E. B. Livings
E.B. Livings moonlights as a mother of four sons and a teacher of English to high school seniors. She spends her days nurturing 150 people and her dog, Millie. She writes from her comfortable hometown of Rayne. She spent the first decade of the millennium at the University of Louisiana at Lafayette. Chances are she was your Orientation leader or you read her stuff in The Vermilion or 008 Magazine. She completed a Master's of Arts in Teaching at McNeese in 2017. Her hobbies are as eclectic as her outfits. When she's not guiding her gentlemen through earthly endeavors, she may be found practicing piano or running. In the chaos of loud boy-mom life, she finds solitude doing yoga, praying, or rocking on her back patio while strumming her guitar. You can explore more of her thought experiments at


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