Lesson Planning Assistant
Increasing Imagination and
Inspiration for Learning
Mercury has a 116-day cycle which spreads over about 4 months. In a given year, Mercury has about three of these cycles. It spends about 14 to 30 days in each zodiac sign. Mercury is a fast-moving planet which is never more than a sign or two away from the sun. Mercury is the planet for communication, any kind of mental work and learning. It is associated with writing and language and short distance travel.
How can teachers work with Mercury?
The sign of Mercury influences the way information gets communicated and the way students absorb information. Mercury can provide great inspiration for how we plan a unit since its length in each sign is 14 days or up to 30 days. That is often the length of many units of study. Mercury Retrograde periods are known to be a good time for gathering information or reflection and integration, a time to pause before a big decision.
The Mercury cycle is a valuable planetary cycle for teachers to observe. Using an ephemeris, websites, or astrology software, it is not hard to look up what signs Mercury will be in during each instructional unit and relate ways to take advantage of Mercury’s placement. Mercury can ignite the imagination of the teacher into an engaging path through the content given the element, sign and modality of Mercury’s placement.
I find it helpful to track the Mercury Retrograde cycles as this is an ideal time for all kinds of review, whether in the classroom with your students or in the faculty meetings and planning larger projects and goals. It is a great time for faculty to review student data and to gather information from all parties before making new decisions to move forward. Its 3-4 month-long cycles are perfect for the timing of the school year.
Mercury also provides inspiration. For example, let’s imagine Mercury is in a water sign and as a teacher, I am planning a Science unit of study on animals. With Mercury in a water sign I might focus mostly on ocean animals, or because water represents the emotional nature, I might look for more artistic ways of delivery that evoke a feeling response, perhaps through drawing animals, writing animal poetry, adding song, creative writing, or watercolor painting to the study. If Mercury is in a fire sign, I might find I am planning activities which engage the spirits of the students, like getting engaged in fundraising for a wildlife charity or environmental charity. If Mercury in an air sign, perhaps I plan something that gets the students mentally stimulated, like researching their own questions, writing, or speaking, communicating through the computer or using any kind of technology or giving oral reports. If Mercury in an earth sign, I might be developing physical and sensory ways to explore a topic like creating 3-D models, dioramas, sculpting, or making other physical, tactile, material projects, origami, preferably ones that use all the senses in meaningful ways. If nothing else, you end up providing much needed variety to students by touching on the multiple intelligences and learning modalities by looking to Mercury for inspiration.
Creating the classroom we desire
Venus spends between about 23 days to a little over 2 months in a sign. It has an overall eight-year pattern that breaks down further into approximately 18 month long periods. Venus’ path is fascinating and it has long been known to create a beautiful 5-petal flower shape.
How can teachers work with the Venus cycle?
Venus would have us live and work in classroom space and emotional space that we value. In the physical sense this means – the experience of the senses, colors, the textues, the furniture, and the objects that give meaning and make it comfortable and pleasurable. In the emotional sense this means the relationships with students and the behavior rules, creating the emotional climate of respect that is desired. The Venus cycle might be an ideal planetary cycle to work with when planning your class meetings, your restorative circles, your community-building activities or anything that deals with relationships.
During a typical nine-month school year, Venus may travel in and out of retrograde. It may be an evening star or a morning star. When Venus goes retrograde, it does so for about six weeks at a time, this is an ideal time to do deeper relationship work and re-visit themes. This could be applied also as a good time to focus on self-care, work-life balance, relationships to colleagues or organizational conflict. Working in harmony with Venus transits may bring optimal time frames for improving relationships with students or their experiences with each other. A school faculty also builds relationships and those help to create the emotional climate of the entire school. We also build relationships with parents and the community. Our personal relationships such as with spouse or children impact the rest of our professional performance as well.
Setting and Achieving Goals
Mars has a 2.5 year cycle, and spends about 1.5 months each sign. With Mars we might consider, where do I need to set goals and take action? By looking at the sign placement, this might influence your organizational routines and planning routines, and the implementation of your lessons or other school endeavors. Mars might be an ideal planet to work in harmony with with when setting 6-week goals for yourself, or when setting goals with students that last for this duration. Mars might be an ideal planet to look at when adjusting the physical activity levels in particular, high-energy classes. Mars cycles would give us an ideal length of time to assess goals for a grading period and to co-create goals with students.
Personal Trainer and GROWTH Coach
Jupiter has a 12-year cycle and moves through each sign in about one year. The sign of Jupiter can help provide an overall theme for a school year and enable you to hold a particular vision as you work on your goals for the year.
The natal Jupiter of students points to the ideal teacher the students need, thereby indicating the qualities a teacher can develop or grow in themselves to effectively serve them that year. Each year Jupiter moves to a new sign and tries on different clothes. Therefore, each new year we must also evolve and re-interpret ourselves in a new light through a different angle or theme, based on the sign that this Jupiter cohort has natally and how it intersects with you personally as a teacher. By keeping in mind the themes of that Jupiter sign, we can select a theme for the year, a way to grow as teacher, choosing our courses for professional development, or new ways of adapting and improving your teaching practice.
Jupiter may be especially important if you work with 11-12 year old students, those entering 6th-7th grade, as they will experience a Jupiter birthday. (Jupiter will return to the sign where it was when they were born.) Go back and research the kind of major events that occurred in the news 12 years before and see what trends you find there. Knowing your class’ Jupiter sign will give you a picture of the kind of teacher this class may most benefit from and the qualities to embody as you work with them.
THE Discipline Director
What kind of authority does this class of students need to be successful? Saturn will indicate where limitations are felt. Children born in the same year will often have Saturn in the same sign. The sign of Saturn will indicate what these students need in the realm of a discipline director.
Saturn passes through all of the zodiac signs in roughly 28.75 years, also known as the length of “Saturn Return.” A Saturn cycle marks a significant passage point into adulthood for most people. Children often think of adults as someone who is in their 30’s. If you live into your 50’s, as most people do thesedays, you will experience a second Saturn return, if you live into your 88th year, you have experienced three passes of Saturn, or three Saturn birthdays.
Groups of students born in the same Saturn sign will form cohorts of about a 2.5 year period. Saturn placement will show an area where students are most likely to be sensitive, insecure, or perceive a weakness in themselves. This could be an area where they need to perfect or refine something. Saturn is associated with limits, boundaries, and structure. Through effort, however, this weakness can become an area of strength.
A high school teacher might find it helpful to spend some time understanding the nature of the Saturn opposition. A Saturn opposition occurs when Saturn is at the point in its orbital cycle halfway around the sun from where it was when you were born, or approximately 14-15 years of age. Every 14-15 year will experience this Saturn opposition. At this age, Saturn would have moved 180 degrees in its orbital path from its natal position. The opposition at age 14-15 is the first of several Saturn oppositions that every person will experience in their life. The Saturn opposition ushers in a phase of challenges to authority and the themes that are the strongest will be repeated in subsequent Saturn oppositions later in life but will evolve in varying ways.
In terms of working with students who are undergoing greater difficulties with authority figures, rebelling against teachers or parents, or both, knowing something about Saturn oppositions as a distinct time period in a person’s life could be very helpful in guiding young adults who are struggling. From the date of birth we can tell at least the sign of the natal Saturn, and we would also be able to see the current transiting planets. Together these would be very helpful to those who work with a struggling adolescent student and could provide an inside picture to what the student is dealing with.
Lastly, we can consider the group of students as a whole. Saturn changes sign every 2.5 years approximately. In a typical 4-year high school then, there would be between 2-3 cohorts with the same Saturn placement by sign at any given time. As mentioned, we could think of the signature of the Saturn opposition in terms of broad themes that address programmatic changes to a larger student body or in refining and adjusting important programs to better match the needs of each successive Saturn cohort of students.
OUTER PLANETS – Generational Indicators
Uranus has an 84-year cycle and spends about 7 years in each sign. Not everyone will live for 84 years, but most people will experience the Uranus opposition at about 39-41, when Uranus has gone halfway around from its position at your birth. This is a time of great struggle and resistance, which we are most used to calling “mid-life crisis.” One begins to ask, “Is this all there is to life?” Changes that occur around ages 39-41 are often difficult, but it is helpful to understand that everyone who has lived through these changes and gotten to the other side has earned something through that struggle, even if they may have a few battle scars to show for it. Uranus is the planet of revolution and independence, whether personal or collective. It represents genius, innovation and invention, scientific rebellion, as well as social rebellion. The longer cycles of Uranus and the other outer planets mark societal changes including social and scientific revolutions.
Neptune has 165-year cycle and will only travel about 1/3 of its route around the sun during a person’s life. Neptune stays in one sign for about 14 years. Its journey through the signs marks changes in collective consciousness. If a person lives to 82.5, they have experienced half of Neptune’s journey – a Neptune opposition. Neptune is associated with the God Poseidon, or the Lord of the Sea. The sea symbolizing the depth of the unconscious realms, dreamlike, and mystical. It represents our relationship to oneness, or the divine. It can also represent illusions, addictions, or maya.
Pluto has a 248-year cycle, and spends anywhere from 12 to 32 years in a given sign of the zodiac. In the broadest strokes, the Pluto group represents a single generation. At any given time, we may have people alive on the planet who represent only about 5-6 different Pluto generations, currently we have individuals with Pluto in Cancer through Pluto in Capricorn, depending on how long people live. Someone who was one of the earliest generations of Pluto, born in 1914 in the sign of Cancer would be 106 years old in 2020 but if they were born at the end of the Pluto in Cancer phase, then they would be 81. During one person’s life, if they live a long, and full life, Pluto may only have moved through a few signs during their lifetime. Pluto represents the cycle of life-death-rebirth, the underworld, and transformation from one state of being to another.