Math = Love: Designing My Own Teacher Planner Part 2

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Designing My Own Teacher Planner Part 2

My planner for the new school year has done for a while.  Now, it's time to finally share it with you.  (Thanks Shelli for the push to get around to blogging about this!)

For my planner this year, I'm using the Arc System by Staples.  In the past, I've purchased a planner, but I hated that I couldn't customize it.  This discbound system lets me change things to my heart's content.  Shaun is also using the arc system for his planner, so we felt like we could justify buying the fancy punch.

Note: I've already blogged about most of the pages below and included links to download them. You can find that post here.  The calendar pages (which I haven't blogged about before) can be downloaded here.  If you download the editable version, you'll need to also download the free fonts Ostrich Sans Heavy and HVD Comic Serif Pro or substitute your own favorite fonts.    

Since I was planning on designing my own inside pages, I just bought a pretty cover and a set of pink discs to get my planner started.    

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 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.  :)  

(Notice how June 10th is filled in below?  That was the day I actually took the pictures for this blog post...)

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've included the mail merge file with the dates in case you want to edit my template to fit your needs.  (Remember: files can be downloaded here!)

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.

And, I also made a section to record birthdays.  Now, I need to actually get busy and record some birthdays...

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

This next section is to record notes from meetings at school.  My new principal says he rarely calls a faculty meeting.  My previous principal believed in weekly faculty meetings.  We'll see how much use this section gets.  If I don't end up using it, I can always just pull these pages out.

A big goal of mine this year is to do a better job of keeping in contact with parents AND recording that contact.  I'm hoping these planner pages help with that.

My next divider contains information for my role as student council adviser.  Right now, it just has templates I made to record notes from our student council meetings.

Since I'm terrible at remembering passwords, I created a passwords section for my planner.  Now, this isn't the place for super sensitive passwords like my online banking or credit card.  This is more for things like "What's the password to see my evaluation online?" or "What's the password to update my page on the school website?"

My school pays me to do after school tutoring IF I keep a detailed log.  I've never been good at this, so I usually end up doing lots of tutoring without any compensation from the school.  I know, not smart.  This year, I have a log to keep me organized and compensated.  :D

The next pages are for me to record things I have loaned to others and things I have borrowed from others.  This will hopefully deter students from borrowing things and never bringing them back.  It will also help me to track down those that forget since I'm the one that forgets who I loaned stuff to all the time.

My school provides all students with calculators while they are at school.  When students take the ACT, they need to borrow a school calculator to do so.  This sheet is to help me keep track of these loaned calculators.

This next section has nothing to do with school.  I just want to keep a log of my recently read books.

The last section of my planner is my address book.  This is where I go when I need to send a thank you note to my great-aunt or send a birthday card to my sister (why can't I ever remember her zip code???).

Having these all in one place means I can finally throw away all those corners of envelopes I've torn off over the years with people's addresses on them.  Yay for decluttering!


  1. I love this! You've given me lots of great ideas. Thanks so much for sharing.

  2. Thank you Sarah. It's so nice to be able to look through your planner.

    1. I love looking through others' planners, too!

  3. Thanks for sharing, I especially like the parent contact pages. I have over 200 students, and most planners or teacher binders use 1 page per student, which is a lot of pages......

  4. Amazing! Thanks for sharing this.

  5. Sarah, this is awesome. I love organizing my life! Also, I wanted to let you know that you (or anyone) can contribute to the one-good-thing blog, and it doesn't have to be daily! It can be however frequent or infrequent as you want. No pressure!


    1. Thanks for the reminder, Sam. Maybe I need to set myself a goal of contributing at least once a month. I love reading all of the posts there.

  6. I read this article last night and thought it was genius. Being that I teach Algebra most planners don't cater to HS. So I picked up my hole punch, dividers, and cover. Can't wait to play with it. 😊

    1. Enjoy!!! Making your own planner is so much fun.

  7. Why not use a password wallet on your computer? Then you need to remember only your master password. Passwords can be computer-generated, as long as the site will allow, and total gibberish so they're unlikely to be hacked. Most sites will copy the passwords so you never need to type them.

    1. My husband uses one of these, but I have no clue how it works. Maybe I'll have to have him give me a tutorial.

    2. I use a similar thing, LastPass. I love it.

  8. In reference to finding a lesson plan format you like, have you ever checked on I use it and love it. I like that I can easily import lessons from previous years. I can easily bump or extend lessons one day with a click. Copy/paste, integration with google calendar to see events and plans in one screen, integration with google drive, customizable fields, color coding, create your own schedule format, week or month view. Free trial and $12/year. I have been using it for three years. I'm supposed to turn in lesson plans, but sometimes it turns in to journaling what I DID and turning them in late, but it has been helpful to have that journal when teaching the same prep next year. I added a field for reflection which has been a great place to quickly jot notes about what I liked or want to change. I have it set to where my administrator does not see that section so I can be very open with myself there. I have experimented with several other sites (chalk, planboard, planbookedu, etc.) and at the time, this one had the most high-school friendly features and flexibility. Happy planning!

    1. I signed up and got a 7 month free trial with a promo code, but I can't decide how I feel about it yet. I think I'm going to give it a try, though. Thanks for the recommendation!

  9. Hi Sarah,
    By chance have you created your calendar pages for 2017-18. I'm thinking of investing in the Arc binder system. How did your year go with you planner. Did you revise anything? I really like your calendar pages because they begin with Monday - Thursday on the left and Friday Sat Sun on the right. So many calendars begin with Sunday.....
    Thanks for ALL the good stuff you're putting out into the world. You must have awesome Karma. :)