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Designing My Own Teacher Planner

Most teacher planners that I see online seem to be focused on the elementary grades. I don’t need field trip planners or a zillion pre-made seating chart pages, so I decided to design my own. When I thought about what I wanted in a planner, I decided I wanted weekly calendars (with lines since I cannot write in a straight line to save my life) and the flexibility to add pages and move things around as I figure out what I really want/need.

Really, when it comes down to it, all I want flexibility.  I want to be able to change things when they aren’t working.  I’m tired of buying a planner and spending a year dreaming about when I get to buy a new planner because it just isn’t working for me.  My husband introduced me to the Staples Arc System. It’s a discbound system that lets you rearrange your pages to your heart’s content.  

You can add pages whenever you want and wherever you want.  It gives me the flexibility of a three-ring binder without the annoying bulk of a binder.  Plus, it lies completely flat!  Shaun is also using the Staples arc system for his planner, so we felt like we could justify buying the Staples Arc Punch.

I designed my own weekly spread back in May, and I’ve been using it to see what I *really* want in a planner.  After using my own pages for a few days, I figured out what was working and wasn’t working.  I’ve redesigned my weekly spread pages, and I’ll be blogging about those soon.  Promise.

Inside, I have a clear zippered poly pocket that holds post-it notes, stickers, etc.

I also invested in a set of 8 dividers for my notebook to keep things more organized.  I bought these from the Martha Stewart line at Staples because they were cheaper than the Arc brand.  Plus, I got a set of 8 dividers instead of 5.

I like that my dividers are slightly see-through because I can see the header page for the next section through it.

I still haven’t decided if I’m perfectly happy with the way I have stuff ordered in my notebook yet.  But, that’s okay since I can easily reorder the pages.

My plan at the moment is to have the first tab contain my to-do list and info on current projects.

The next section contains my calendar pages.  My husband made this version of our school calendar for us both to include in our planners.  Have I mentioned that I’m super excited about getting to work in the same building as my husband next year?!?

For my planner pages, my goal was to have a way to keep track of several things:

School Stuff – Faculty meetings, meetings with parents, deadlines for submitting things, student council meetings, days when various student organizations will be absent, school sporting events, etc.  Having this all written on my calendar helps me figure out what days to not schedule a test or what days are open to schedule a student council event.

Personal Stuff – Doctor and dentist appointments, birthdays, reminders to do things like pay the rent, etc.

Good Things – I love reading the One Good Thing blog.  The teachers who participate in this blog commit to blog each day about something good that happened during their day.  Sometimes it’s something big.  Other times, it’s a small thing that would often go unnoticed.  But, it’s always good.  If you haven’t subscribed to this blog, you are definitely missing out!  The posts there never fail to put a smile on my face.  While I don’t have the commitment necessary to write a daily blog post, I do want to build a habit of recognizing the good in every day.  I started doing this at the end of last school year in my planner, and it was definitely my favorite thing to look back at every day.  So, I want to include a space to record something good about each day.

Meal Planning – Being married means I have to do a lot more thinking about meal planning than I ever did when I was single.  I’m not a serious meal planner.  This will probably be used more in retrospect to record what we eat to help us come up with ideas later on.  Or, if I really get on top of things, maybe I will start planning ahead.

What you WON’T find in this planner is my plans on what to teach on what day.  I plan to keep these in a google document.  I’ve never been required to turn in my lesson plans, so I’ve never been good at writing down and recording my plans to look back at later.  I’ve tried to do so many, many, many times, but I always get frustrated when plans change.  It seems like I never get everything done in a class period that I thought I could get done.  I’m thinking that having them in a google document will let me copy and paste them to the appropriate day which should lessen the sting a bit…  When I get a lesson planning document I’m happy with, I’ll be sure sure to blog about that, too!

Okay.  Enough talking about what I want it to contain.  Let’s look at pictures.  🙂

Calendar Pages

For these calendar pages, I created a basic weekly template.  Then, I typed in all of the dates in an excel file and used mail merge to put together my planner pages.  This was so much faster than trying to type directly on the pages.  

I only made my planner pages go through June 2017 because I figure by next summer I’ll be itching to try out a new planner page design.  To keep track of dates that don’t fall in my planner’s range, I included a section for future dates.

Other Planner Pages

Address Book Pages

One thing that planning a wedding (and writing post-wedding thank you notes) taught me was that I need a better organizing system for my addresses.

Calculator Sign-Out Sheets

My school provides students with graphing calculators instead of making them purchase their own.  This is largely because we are in a low socio-economic area where many families could not afford to purchase a graphing calculator for their students.  I have a classroom set of calculators that serves us well.  The problem arises when our students need a graphing calculator to take the ACT.  In four years of teaching, I still haven’t come up with a good system for tracking who has borrowed which calculator.  Usually, I resort to writing calculator numbers down on post-it notes, but they can get buried in my messy desk and lost.  If students seem me write down their calculator check-out in my book, they’ll know that they must return it in a timely manner or I will track them down.


One thing I want to do a better job of this year is keeping track of birthdays.  When someone takes the time to send you a birthday card, it just makes you feel special.  I want to do that more this year.  I overheard a student say a couple of weeks ago that only one person had wished her a happy birthday on her birthday.  Her own parents hadn’t even remembered her birthday.  How sad is that!  This was convicting to me because I only do an okay job of recognizing birthdays in my classroom.  

Usually the way I deal with birthdays is this: If you tell me it’s your birthday, I’ll give you a birthday badge sticker to wear.  Sometimes, I’ll even throw in a “Happy Birthday” certificate that I picked up at Dollar Tree.  What about the students that are too shy to tell me it’s there birthday?  I need to make a plan to recognize all of my students on their birthday.  

I still remember my 7th grade math teacher: Mrs. Sellars.  She gave each of us a pencil on our birthday.  If students had a birthday that fell in the summer months, she gave them a pencil on their half-birthday.  This year, I want to recognize all of my students (and coworkers) on their birthdays.  To help me keep track of this, I made some birthday tracking sheets to keep in my planner.  

Future Dates 

I’m always running into the problem of having a date I want to put in my planner when my planner doesn’t go that far.  I decided that making a sheet to record dates for the next four years should help with this.  Now, I have a place to record random dates I want to keep an eye on such as driver’s license expirations, teacher registration expirations, and other random stuff.  

Items Borrowed and Items Loaned

I perpetually have students coming to me to borrow stuff.  After four years, students have learned that if you need scissors, glue, colored pencils, markers, rulers, or any crafty stuff that I’ll probably have it.  The problem is that these things have a tendency to not come back.  I’d track down the student who borrowed it, but I often don’t remember who that was.  And, I often don’t realize it never came back until a week or so later.  This year, I’m going to keep a log of items that are borrowed so I can ensure that they are returned.  Students won’t be able to leave the the room with the borrowed item until it’s logged in my book.  

I also created a sheet for items that other people have loaned me.  It’s rare that I borrow something from someone, but it does happen.  

Meeting Notes

I have a new principal next year who promises that he rarely calls a faculty meeting.  My previous principal insisted on having a faculty meeting every Friday.  Even though there will be less meetings to attend, I still want to keep organized at these meetings.  My usual approach to a faculty meeting has been to take notes on a calendar page in my planner.  This is usually less than ideal.  So, I designed this sheet to help me organize my meeting notes.

As Student Council sponsor, I host a usually weekly meeting for my student council kids to discuss upcoming events that they are planning.  I’ve never been organized with student council stuff, and it makes it incredibly hard to find things later.  I adapted my Meeting Notes page to a Student Council Meeting Notes page.  I’m hoping this leads to more organized student council meetings this year!

Parent Contact Log

One area I know I need to improve in is parent contact.  I hate talking on the phone.  It scares me.  But, I know that contacting parents means I will be better able to meet my students’ diverse needs.  This year, I am going to try to contact five parents each week (at a minimum).  I wanted a place to keep track of the parents I contact and take notes on what was discussed.  This is what I came up with:

Password Tracker

As a teacher, I have so many passwords to keep track of it’s not funny.  I’ve always relied on trying to use the same password if at all possible.  This works for the most part.  But, there’s always that website that wants 14 letter passwords with 5 special characters or something crazy.  Keeping track of my various passwords will help me keep my sanity and save time by not having to go through the “Forgot My Password” page at least once a week.

Project Planner

Okay, I’m not entirely sure what I’m going to use this for.  I might use it in the student council section of my notebook to help various events such as the Veterans Day Assembly or the Annual Blood Drive.  I also play a large role in preparing for the Awards Assembly at the end of the year which involves lots of small to-do list items.  

Reading Log

Now that grad school is done, I think I might finally have time to start reading for pleasure again.  I recently got a library card from a nearby town that allows me to access free audio books and e-books.  The type column is to differentiate between e-books, audio books, and well actual physical books.

Tutoring Log

My school pays teachers to do after school tutoring, but there’s one catch.  We have to keep a log of our hours and the students we help in order to get paid.  I often help students after school, but I’m terrible at keeping records.  This means I rarely get any compensation for my time.  This year, I am going to have a tutoring sign-in sheet for students to sign when they enter and exit my room.  Then, I’ll transfer the information (neatly) to my tutoring log.  

To-Do Lists


Thursday 4th of August 2016

I love my discbound planner......We found and they are great for covers and discs. Not sure on pricing internationally though. I also tend to print on heavier weight paper as I find if I use normal copy paper it wont last through the year.

Lisa McLeod

Sunday 12th of June 2016

Funny that you should mention the arc system. I made my own planner last year but used the school planner cover which is so ugly. I wanted something nicer and was toying with trying this system. After reading your post, I went and bought it today! I decided to buy the clear notebook cover so I can change up my cover page and it will show through.

Sarah Carter (@mathequalslove)

Monday 13th of June 2016

I'm kinda wishing I'd bought the clear cover now so I could change it up with pretty scrapbook paper!


Tuesday 7th of June 2016

What do the actual planning pages look like?

Sarah Carter (@mathequalslove)

Sunday 31st of July 2016

Check out this post!

Kimberly Beck

Thursday 2nd of June 2016

I've made my own planner the last two years and used the arc system with it. I LOVE it. All the meeting notes are in one place and on pretty paper, all my observations, random committee info, and parent things/student passwords. Every meeting people ask me where I got it. Whenever I can't find something on my desk the kids remind me to check in my "notebook with the weird holes".

Sarah Carter (@mathequalslove)

Sunday 31st of July 2016

What your kids call it is too funny!

Kara R

Thursday 2nd of June 2016

I started a regular planner the year I started teaching as the Birthday Book. I pass it around the classroom on one of the first days of each class and have each student sign their name on their birth date. So I have one book with every student I have ever taught in it. Students from previous semesters are the most surprised when I say happy birthday when I see them in the hallway. Because it was a real planner it does usually have the wrong day of the week, which causes some confusion when kids are signing it, but if you were making something you could just have the dates without days. I really enjoy looking back over the kids names each day and remembering all my previous students.

Sarah Carter (@mathequalslove)

Sunday 31st of July 2016

What a clever idea!

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