My Lesson Plan Experience

I spent a lot of time last summer visiting lots of awesome teacher blogs. From what I saw, a teacher binder was a sure-fire way to succeed in being an organized, efficient teacher. I put a lot of work into making one -- I made customized weekly lesson plan pages, added monthly calendar pages, a student info section, a birthday list page, and so on and so forth. It was FULL before school even started!! I was thrilled, thinking I'd be so organized and that I would keep up with it every week.

Want to know what happened?

I didn't!

I got so many new handout pages from faculty meetings, and I just shoved them into the binder without even hole punching them! It was a mess in there. Around November, I had given up on the binder and it was just laying on the giant pile of junk in the corner of the classroom.

Judging me.

With it's judgmental binder pockets full to bursting.

So since that was a complete and utter failure, I decided that this next year I would simplify. I decided to create a simple lesson plan book that was just for that -- lesson planning. Not for student info, not for birthday lists, not for anything except the basic essentials. And especially, no pockets. None. Zippo.

Here's how the cover turned out:

2013-14 Lesson Plan Book

Nice huh? I thought it was cute as could be. :) I had my school laminate the front and back cover pages so that it would be a little more sturdy, and I printed it on heavy cardstock paper.

On the inside, I only have 4 sections:

1) A page for continuing education-
If you're a new teacher reading this post, here's something that I did not know about until almost the end of the school year. You will have to turn in your CPE information and certificate copies! OH MY GOODNESS. I had no idea, so obviously I just put the workshop certificates into the giant corner pile of doom after every workshop. My suggestion is to write down the name of the training, the date/time, and the location of the event. Also, keep a file folder of all the certificates handy so that you can add to it as you go along. Sorry for the rant. Here's a picture. :)
Lesson Plan Book CPE Page
Lime green! Lovely :)
2) A page for DRA Scores (because it's helpful to keep track during the year for grouping) -
DRA Scores page
Sorry for the retina-burning sensation caused by a ridiculous amount of orange.
3) Weekly planning pages -
I chose this setup because I prefer the days to be vertical instead of horizontal. It is easier for me to follow. Also, I put just the subject because my old planning pages had the actual time there, which really messed me up on days that did not follow the routine. I was looking into getting a cute Erin Condren planner, but she puts the lesson plan days horizontal. Sad :(
2013-14 Lesson Plan Book
Purple is my favorite color, so obvs I picked purple for these pages!
4) Monthly calendar pages -
2013-14 Lesson Plan Book
The blue color is WAY prettier in person. Silly iPhone. And yes, I did already fill the calendar out through to next May. Don't hate.
My goal for the summer is to really get myself organized and get everything to have its own home in my classroom. I learned from my mistake, and I am not going to let it happen again!

If you would like a copy of the documents shown above, just click any of the photos!

You can also CLICK HERE for the link, if you haven't figured it out otherwise. If the link doesn't work, please, oh please, let me know so I can figure out what I did wrong. Thanks!

I hope this was interesting to you in some way. Maybe it will give you the motivation to minimize like I did. The coil binding was done at Office Depot for only $3 and some change. Not too shabby.

My next challenge? The scary cabinets in my classroom.
Math and Art and random junk closet. The math items are organized by concept (geometry, counting, time, money, weight)

Literacy and Fine Motor. And random junk. This one needs lots of help. I need a professional organizer to come help me!!!
Looks like I will be one busy woman this summer! Thank goodness I have the Optimum Organization linky party that helps me keep my mind focused on a goal. I will need all the support and encouragement I can get. Cleaning/organizing is NOT in my nature.

I'm also linking up with Manic Monday and Monday Made It...because I made my lesson plan book! :) Also, I made a huge mess of my cabinets. Does that count?

If you want to check out the linky parties, click the images below.
Classroom Freebies Manic Monday

How do you manage your lesson plans? 
Do you have any advice on how I should tackle the scary cabinets??


  1. Haha, I love that you want to count this post for Monday Made It because you MADE a mess! Glad you're back, friend!


    1. Haha! Thank you Maria! :) I am definitely glad to be back. I've been enjoying it. We need to chat sometime!

  2. Love the binding :) Thanks for the great idea. I can't get the monthly calendar pages to print ... am I doing something wrong?

    1. Thanks for letting me know. I will post it up to my Teachers Pay Teachers page so that it can be downloaded easier. If you check back in about 30 minutes, there should be a link to the product on my blog post!

  3. Your planner is great! I especially love the space for the CPE notes! It is so easy to forget what you need to turn in, I am SO bad about that! PLUS my district only lets us turn things in up to 60 days from the date of the event..arrgh! I am so going to use that this next year!

    Happy Day!
    Carmen Zeisler

    Exploring Elementary
    Fourth Grade

    1. Thank you Carmen! Glad you can use this file. Only 60 days?? That is crazy! Thanks for commenting. :)

  4. Cute binder! I love how you went from huge binder then simplified and now will use a simpler one. Teachers are so busy it doesn't take us long to streamline things, does it? I've learned these things too. :)
    Conversations in Literacy

    1. Thanks! It really doesn't take long! I had good intentions with the binder, but I believe this will really make a difference. Teaching is all about learning from experience and changing to fix it! :) Thanks for commenting, Lori!

  5. Thank you for posting this. Every good teacher is self-evaluating right now. I ordered one of those expensive binders, and it had too many distractions.... I quickly put it aside. I also, love the vertical squares. Please tell me what environment means? Is there a way you could have those subject tabs blank? My friend doesn't teach Bible. Thanks. Great post.

    1. Thanks for commenting! :) It's exciting to see all the self-reflection posts that teachers are posting lately. I'm glad I'm not the only one who failed at the binder system! Environment in my classroom is science and social studies. I added a page that has blank tabs down the side for people who want to write in their subject titles! Thanks for the idea to revise!

  6. Crafty and Savvy!
    I went to a binder this year, nothing fancy. It did work for me because everything was in 1 place - not to great on the back though since I lugged it home daily. The best thing in my binder this year was my PLANBOOK. I began using planbook.com in October and Love it. You create your own daily schedule, color code how you like, and drum roll... can import and export your lessons. Have you ever needed to carry over a lesson into another day or simply didn't get to something that day? Well, there is a button for that! It will simply bump your lesson to the next day or extend the lesson, which means everything else in that section is bumped a day. No more erasing to fix your plans, especially those snow days. This also made sub plans so much easier.
    I have my own binding system at home for scrapbooking - love it and use it all the time in class.

    1. I am glad a binder works for you! Binders work for some and not for others, which is why we have to find what works best for us! :) The planbook.com sounds really interesting! I like that you can carry the lesson over a day like that. Thanks for telling me about that! It must be nice to have a binding system at home!

  7. Hey Sarah!! This is phenomenol! I love how streamlined it is because I'm with you on the binder...I tend to shove papers in without hole punching too. Not only is this so very smart, but it is gorgeous too! Thanks for linking up :)

  8. Thanks for linking up, Sarah! This planner counts as major organization! I love the idea of having it bound because I tend to shove papers in my binder, too. It turned out so beautiful, too. I can't wait to see what comes of those cabinets :) I'm sure it will be great!

  9. Such a great idea! Sometimes simpler is much better! I like your suggestion for keeping all the certificates in a file - when I was a new teacher I did a scramble at the end of the year to find them all. I've started keeping those kinds of things in a binder with page protectors so I know where everything is. I also include evaluations, contracts, etc.
    Polka Dot Lesson Plans

  10. I love this idea! I too made a super cute binder with good intentions of using it this year and probably pulled it out once or twice. This seems nice and simple and I like nice and simple! Thank you for sharing!!

  11. I like the spiral planners. I think I take my spiral more with me because a binder just seems too bulky. I have binders for organizing each content, like a binder with tabs for each student for guided reading and a binder for faculty meetings. That way the papers get put in the binders and I pull them out as I need them. I usually don't need my binders at home, but I often take my plan book back and forth.
    Dilly Dabbles

  12. Thanks for the Freebie! I printed the calendar pages to add to my Teacher Binder - yes I have one I need everything in ONE place lol!

  13. Your planner came out great! I hope it works out better for you this year. It always takes a while to come up with a good system that works for you.

    room 4 imagination

  14. This is awesome- thanks so much for posting it! By any chance, do you have a June 2014 monthly calendar template available for print? Our school year goes through June in Maryland!

  15. Your planner is GREAT! You've inspired me to get to work on mine while these ideas are still in my head! Thanks! :)


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