Oh, how I used to envy all the organized teachers in my life. I’d see them busily working on their lesson plans for the next month while I scurried around looking for the misplaced sticky note that held my “plans” for that afternoon. At the end of each day I’d wistfully look at their spotless desks while combing through the piles that obscured my own. I tried to be organized, I really did. I juggled a lesson plan book, grade book, parent contact info, and papers that needed checking. Despite my efforts, there were many nights when I’d invariably find myself at home having forgotten something I needed — most likely buried on that desk of mine. Tired of my disorganized ways, I decided to put everything I needed into a single binder. Now, at the end of the day, I slip my all-in-one binder into my tote bag, and I’m prepared for anything!
This week I’m excited to share with you everything you need to put together an all-in-one binder that will help you have your most organized year ever!
For the binder itself, I use a sturdy 1½-inch plastic binder with a clear plastic overlay on the front. I choose the binders that are a bit more expensive ($7.99), because I can get at least three years of use out of them compared to the less expensive ones I have tried in the past. I slip a cover sheet into the front, and insert a class list with student info in the clear sleeve on the back.
Other items I use in my binder include:
My binder is divided into several, easy-to-access sections. Inside the binder I keep the following:
Now, to make your life even easier, I've included templates for all the items listed above that you can edit for yourself, or perhaps just use for inspiration.
Technically, you never need to change the cover of your binder, or the dividers inside — I just like to! Below are some of the sets of dividers and covers I have used over the past few years. Download and print a set for yourself by clicking on the images below.
Last year we went to block scheduling which made creating lesson plans much easier. The template I use is below. I print off the pages, punch three holes in them and insert them into the front of my binder. My binder stays open to the lesson plan pages most of the school day.
Right after my lesson plans I keep my grading sheets. This is the section where I keep all of my student scores. The grading sheets are organized by subject matter. I type the names in on one sheet, then copy and paste that list onto all the other sheets.
I print out blank months for September through June using Google Calendar and keep them in the binder. Many people I know keep their calendar online with Outlook or Google Calendar, but I still like writing on a paper calendar. In past years, I've even cut the binding from a small wall calendar, punched holes in it, and placed that in my binder. If you keep your schedule online, however, skip this section completely!
All of my students have a page in this alphabetized section where I keep notes on their performance in class, observations I've made about behaviors, and challenges and successes, along with allergies, accommodations, or other pertinent information. The many notes I keep in this section help me a great deal when it comes time for conferences and report cards.
When our parents fill out emergency cards for the office at the beginning of the year, I make reduced-sized copies that I keep in my binder. This allows me access to numbers that don't appear in the school directory or on my class list. This is especially handy with more and more parents relying on individual cell phones instead of a landline. I also keep information on my parent volunteers in this section.
As soon as an assignment is handed in, I paperclip all the papers together and pop them into the plastic folder that resides in the back of my binder. This keeps the papers organized and I never have to worry about leaving a stack of papers behind again.
While I'm not a natural at being neat and organized, this simple binder that holds everything I need certainly makes me feel as if I am. Take your binder to meetings and home with you every night and you will be amazed at how easy it can be to cross over to the side of those oh-so-organized teachers.
Thank you for reading and I'm looking forward to connecting with you this upcoming school year!