My Teaching Binder: Guest Post by Hope

A Walk-Through of My Teaching Binder

I am an American, living in Turkey, teaching English as a foreign language.  As the only native speaker in the private middle school at which I teach, I have 16 classes of students in 4 grades (5th – 8th) using 9 different curricula.  At 32 lessons a week, plus after-school tutoring, I am going non-stop the whole day.  If I didn’t have my teaching binder I would be lost, truly.  It is a Franklin Covey Green Line with 40mm rings, about 10 years old.  I don’t think Filofax has even considered a binder this large, and any smaller wouldn’t work.  It’s stuffed!

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Inside the front cover is a secretarial pocket filled with cheat sheets, class lists not in use, and in the business card pocket, my USB drive and extra pencil lead (did I mention 2 pen loops?).  On the right is a glimpse of my page protector/turner and my class schedule.

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The first page you see is my schedule by week, with my codes for what class period and what homework actions I have for each class.  This is what I use to plan my lessons for the upcoming week.  The obverse is a school produced list of my classes that I use for reference.  Next is my month-at-a-glance, using the “Enthusiast Collection” inserts designed by Coralie McKeivor.  They are perfect for seeing quickly what days are test days (we have a lot of them), holidays, etc. You can also see my tabs, one for each class.

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Next is the heart of my binder, my class tabs.  Each tab has the same layout.  I have lesson plans of my own design, with the plan on the left and a space for notes and reflections on the right.  In between I have a narrow paper with this week’s homework and a plastic pocket from the Swedish Teacher’s Filofax Inserts.  Inside is a list of my students (covered for privacy) that I can refer to during class. With 388 students I can’t remember everyone – this helps.

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Behind my lesson plans are more Swedish Teacher Forms.  Because these forms are designed for the six-ring A5 Filofax and I’m using a seven-ring Franklin Covey, I’ve had to cover the holes with washi tape and re-punch.  Please can the executives for Filofax, Franklin Covey, and DayTimer just agree on a hole format and stop this nonsense?!  These forms will be used for student notes, exam grades, and homework performance.  For homework I’m using what I believe is the attendance form.  Since I don’t need them for their intended purpose, I’m re-purposing.  This is where the aforementioned class list shows its true beauty.  The pouch holes are slotted for easy of removal and insertion.  Each class list line is numbered and correlates to the lines on the notes, exam grades, and homework sheets.  I don’t have to rewrite the students’ names over and over, and I can maintain a certain amount of confidentiality by not having the names immediately next to the data.  The Filofax forms also include contact sheets for students and parents that I am not using, as I have a single sheet with this information as the last page in each class section (not shown for privacy reasons).

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Behind my class tabs are tabs for tutoring, testing, and administration.  Behind that are two tabs holding the syllabi for my classes, printed double-sided on A4 paper, punched on the short end, and folded to fit in my binder.  I just unfold to read.

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Inside the back cover is a pocket with blank paper and notes.  On the back cover is a slip pocket containing a plastic pocket and my daily schedule.  I cannot remember what classes are when (or on what floor) so I pull this out constantly (in Turkey the students stay in their classroom while the teachers go from room to room).  Each day has its own sheet and I just rotate through them as the week goes on.

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Fridays I have two free periods back-to-back.  I sit down with my curricula, my cheat sheets, and my binder and plan out each week’s lessons.  As I execute the lessons, I make notes on the plans about changes for the next lesson, check off completed activities, and make general notes on the reflection sheets.  I will transfer notes about students to the student note sheets for comments at the end of the semester.  Grades will be entered into my grading sheets, and homework completed (or not) will be noted on the homework trackers.  As we are in the start of the semester these forms are not filled out yet, but they will be, believe me.

I hope this helps other teachers out there looking to organize their own binders.

Note from Janet: As a teacher myself I was so interested to read this post. I don’t have nearly the number of students that Hope does but I also find that a Filofax is indispensable to my work as a teacher. I can also heartily recommend the Filofax Sweden teacher inserts. They really should be available worldwide. The link to buy them from the Swedish site is here

Author: Janet Carr

Fashion, beauty and animal loving language consultant from South Africa living in Stockholm, Sweden.

17 thoughts

  1. Happy New Years Ms Janet! I cant believe it took me a year to read your reply! For some reason I never saw it. Thank you so much for your suggestions. I juggled using both this past year and found myself struggling to connect both. I’m going to try what you suggest. My work load is 4 toddlers …but paperwork is crazy. New year new beginnings, time to try new systems…I can’t believe once again I was drawn to your post and I found your reply and Hope’s. Thank you both again! Wishing you a successful, happy, blessed and organized 2016!!!! 😊

  2. Hi,
    I am a teacher with lots of groups (24) so when I was told our issued planners were being stopped I decided that just using an iPad was not for me so an A5 Malden has been my planner for the past year. It is also very stuffed and very important to me. Loved this post. We could almost do with a blog just for those of us in the education sector.
    Many thanks

  3. Why on earth do Filofax not sell the teacher planner pages anywhere else??! They look so useful! The amount of teachers in the uk who use a (school bought) ‘teacher planner’ is enormous so I can’t believe filofax don’t want to get in on that market.
    I’ve looked at the Swedish site but as I don’t understand Swedish, I don’t know how to find the A5 teacher refills…. Could you please send me the link? How much are they?
    Thanks for this, I love it!

  4. Liked your post very much, my dear. Nice to see you again so soon. And Janet, I love your blog.
    Thanks for sharing this. I do it the same way with my planners. The A5 is for teaching (and stuffed!). And my other planner is for private things. Only problem I always switch between A5 and personal in private life. Sometimes I use both at the same time, which makes three in total with my work binder. I know a personal would be better for carrying around but I’m so used to the A5 format that I always get back to it.
    Love to keep hearing from you.

  5. What a wonderful system! Thanks for sharing it!

    I absolutely, 100% agree that Daytimer, Franklin, Filofax, etc. need to get together and either standardize ring spacing or establish a standard hole pattern with slotted holes so that the pages will fit into any of the various ring binders. Such a pain, I love a lot of the A5 binders but also love many of the American inserts.

  6. I am an early head start educator. I would like to know if you use two organizers. I am currently using two, an a5 for work and personal for my finances and personal diary. I like dividing the load but at times it is challenging to manage two calendars. Do you have any suggestions?
    By the way I really enjoy your blog.

    1. Thank you Erica! Myself, I use an A5 for work and my finances, and a Personal as my wallet and scheduler. I keep two calendars. The A5 holds the calender with daily to dos and the Personal holds my calendar with bookings. So when I am not teaching I just take my Personal with me but when I am teaching I take both. But with this system I don’t have to keep the same calendar in two places.

    2. Erica, I do use a separate organizer for my personal planning. I have found that work stays at work and home at home. Since my personal planner is also my wallet, it’s always with me. Any work events during non-work hours are noted in my personal planner, but otherwise they are separate.

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