One of the first things you’ll need to do as a new teacher is set up all of your teacher-related binders, or whatever system you choose to use for all of your important information. Personally, I like 3-ring binders, but if you prefer to use a filing cabinet or something else, that can obviously work, too.
In this post, I’ll explain how I organize all of my lesson plans, student info and data, parent communication, meetings and professional development, and a whole bunch of other crap you’ll have to keep track of throughout the year. I’m also including the designs I’ve come up with for my stuff, which you can feel free to use for your own purposes. So, FREEBIES! :)
At my school, we are supposed to keep a “Teacher Tools” binder that includes several sections, including lesson plans, student data, meetings and trainings, and a few other things. Now, if I were to put ALLLLL of that stuff in this one binder, that thing would have to be 4 or 5 inches thick. So, I asked my administrators if I could have separate, smaller binders for some of this stuff, and they were totally cool with it. If your school or team has a system in place that doesn’t work great for you, don’t be afraid to ask if you can make adjustments. You want to use organizational tools that help YOU be a productive teacher.
Here’s a breakdown of the different Binders I keep:
– Teacher Master Notebook
– Student Data
– Student/Parent Contact Log (including Student Interventions)
– Meetings and Professional Development
– Substitute Binder
Teacher Master Notebook
This is probably the most important and most-used of all of my teacher supplies/tools. Everything that I may need on a daily or regular basis, I keep in this one notebook so that I only have to carry one thing home and back every night. In this notebook, I have the following sections:
– Calendar/Planner – I have a separate planner that I use, but if you don’t want to carry around something extra, you can just keep calendar pages at the front of your Master Notebook. I’ve been using Blue Sky planners for years and love them. I like the full-size one, with a monthly layout, so that I can map out my lessons and still have room to keep track of my meetings and conferences, too. I also used to have a smaller version that I would carry in my purse for personal use, but cross-referencing the two became more of a chore than anything, so now I just use the one.
– General Information – Stuff like the District School Calendar, the school Bell Schedule, school-wide policies like Dress Code and Tardies, emergency procedures, and other pertinent information.
– Lessons/Plans – This is my most-used and most-referenced section, and this is what our administrators or the District will be looking for if/when they come in to my classroom for an observation. My current day’s lesson plan is supposed to be open on my desk at all times. This is to ensure that I’m sticking to my lesson and that I know exactly what I’m supposed to be doing that day. I actually do reference my lesson plans fairly frequently, so this is a mandate that I don’t really mind, but I can totally see why some more experienced teachers find this to be a hassle.
Anyway. The first page in this section is my Order of Instruction, which is basically a list of all of my units/topics divided in to the four quarters. Next, I have the World History Blueprint, which is a detailed layout provided by the District that includes all of the standards for each unit, relevant vocabulary, sample essential questions and activities, and even some online references like videos and Web Quests. This is extremely useful for new teachers, and I hope that your District or County has something similar in place. It is so easy for me to lesson plan using this Blueprint as a reference, but it is also just a starting point that I can tweak to my liking.
Example Pages of my District World History Blueprint
Next, I have my Emergency Lesson Plans and Master Copies for each Emergency Day. That way, as I use an Emergency Lesson and materials, I can immediately go in to my notebook, pull the master copies, and replace the materials for future use. Right now, I have plans for 3 Emergency Days, though I will probably add a couple more for next year. I’ll have another post that will deal directly with Emergency Lessons and my Substitute Binder.
Finally, I have my current unit’s Lesson Plans and Master Copies for each day. A small/short unit can have as little as one or two days worth of lesson plans, while a larger unit (like World War One or World War Two) can have 2-3 weeks worth of lesson plans. When I start a new unit, I simply pull all of the lessons and papers from the previous unit, paper clip them all together, and file them in my desk drawer with the rest of my lesson plans. At the beginning of second semester, I move my first semester lesson plans to a filing cabinet in my storage closet.
Even if I don’t get to use an activity or worksheet (for lack of time, or because I found something better, or whatever), I still keep it filed with the appropriate lessons, because I may have time to use it next year. If I need to make last-minute changes to my lessons (like if I change the Bellwork the day of, or if I end up not having time for an activity), I just write it down in pencil, so that when I’m referencing these plans next year, I’ll remember to make the necessary changes when I’m planning and can edit my electronic copies, which get uploaded to my assessing administrator.
So, only three main sections in my Master Notebook. Because I have about 150 students, there is no way I can keep any kind of student information or data in this notebook. For Elementary, on the other hand, it would be very possible to have that kind of basic student info in this notebook, as well.
Tales of a Teacherista and Schoolgirl Style have some FABULOUS design themes and binder covers. I used the pink and green cover on this page for all of my notebooks this past year, and modified the design to my liking. Here are my specific covers, which you can feel free to nab and edit, or you can buy the whole design theme at Teacherista’s Teachers Pay Teachers page, which includes matching dividers, spine label, calendar pages, and a ton more awesome stuff.
I don’t have a link to the original post, but I modified the pink and green Divider Tabs/Labels from an original by Ladybug’s Teacher Files. You can also use this post by Orange Polka Dots to learn how to print on colored Post-Its, so you don’t have to waste all that color ink.
And here’s a cover I made, but didn’t end up using:
Stay tuned for Part 2 to read about my Student Data and Student/Parent Contact Log Binders.