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!
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.
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.
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.
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).
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.
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.
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