Time for installment number two of our classroom organization tips series. Every organized teacher knows that you need to have some way to organize your lesson plans, and you need to gather all your important information together so you can have it right at your fingertips. I kept all of these things in my teacher binder.
I just used a basic 3-ring binder and made a pretty cover sheet to slip in the front pocket
The first thing in my teacher binder is a zipper pocket that I used to hold pens, pencils, highlighters, sticky notes, and any other small things. I liked being able to grab my binder to take to a meeting and always knowing I would have something to write with when I got there.
Right behind the zipper pocket, but in front of the first tab in my binder, was my calendar. I didn’t do anything special for my calendar – just Googled “printable calendar”, chose the format that I liked the best, and printed it off. This is where I wrote meetings, holidays, and other important dates.
The first tab was for my lesson plans, then I had a tab for each class (and two extra tabs at the back that I would keep other random things like information about my homeroom or faculty meeting notes).
Some background you may need to know to understand these tabs and the lesson plans that I’m about to show you – our school was on an A-Day, B-Day block schedule. That meant that we would have four block classes one day (A-Day), then four different block classes the next day (B-Day), then back to A-Day, and so on. It was totally weird and confusing and I didn’t like it at all. But anyway, I had planning first block each day, and then I had classes second, third, and fourth periods. So A2 is my second period class on A-Day, B3 is my third period class on B-Days. I also had an Algebra 1 class that meet every day rather than every other day – I had them 4th block so A4/B4 stands for that same class that I have 4th block on both A and B-days.
Most lesson plan books are created for people with at least five classes per day. I looked and looked but really never found anything that suited what I had in mind. Because I’m so picky and would rather have something perfect, I just decided to make my own lesson plan template.
Also something you might want to note – we were not required to turn in our lesson plans. So I’ve never been in the habit of writing out detailed lesson plans. I just use more of a bulleted list to remind me of what I need to cover each day. However, I did keep more specific lesson plans that went along with each day of each unit in my binder with my lesson materials, which I’ll discuss in more detail later (*update* – go here to see how I organized my lesson). So that being said, my “lesson plans” are very brief and may not work for you. But this is what worked for me.
I’m a little OCD I like things nice and neat, I didn’t like it when I would write my plans in the square but then something would change. What I discovered was that the smaller sized Post-It Notes fit perfectly into each little square, so I would jot down my lesson plans ahead of time on the sticky notes, place them in the correct square, and then after that class was over I would re-write the “plans” in the actual square. That way I had written down exactly what we ended up doing, in case that deviated from my original plans.
Behind the tab for each class, I kept a roster, my seating chart for that class, my attendance, and any other important information that I needed at hand. I have to be honest…I have never kept a grade sheet. Infinite Campus (our online grading system) was so convenient to enter the grades into, and I could print out a grade sheet at anytime, that I didn’t bother also keeping grades by hand. But I did find that Infinite Campus did not have an easy way to keep up with attendance, so I did keep a manual copy of that.
I liked being able to see at a glance who had been out the previous class period, or who had consistently been absent. I would just mark A for absent, TU for unexcused tardy, or SAFE if they were in SAFE (our version of in school suspension). This didn’t take but a few seconds and was a good record to have on hand.
So that’s basically it! That’s what I kept in my teacher binder and how I did my lesson plans. Now that I’m a librarian, I still have a teacher binder and lesson plans, but they are a bit different now. I can’t wait to share that with you soon, especially the customized lesson planner/schedule that I made! (*update* – go here to check out a tutorial on how to create a customized lesson plan book…plus free download)
Do you have something different in your teacher binder that you think is super important? Leave a comment so we can get ideas!