Inside: Read this article for tips about teacher binder organization and get some teacher binder ideas for this school year.
How often do you find yourself sitting in a meeting, caught without some essential piece of information that you need? I really hate that feeling of needing specific information – a student’s IEP, my list of grade-level standards, or a calendar – that makes you feel unprepared.
You need a teacher binder.
What is a teacher binder?
A teacher binder is an actual binder that you use to organize all of the teachery things you need every day while working. You can customize it to hold everything that YOU need.
I love having everything in one place. It’s efficient for me. It’s an easy way to stay organized because everything is located in one convenient binder. I can grab it as I head out to meetings and feel confident that what I need is inside.
So what actually goes inside? That can be different for each teacher.
Different subject areas need different materials and resources. Plus, every teacher organizes differently.
Here’s a basic list of forms and resources you may want to include in your teacher binder:
- Lesson Plans (this could be its own separate binder)
- Grade book
- Curriculum map
- Student Lists – medications, IEPs, etc.
- Schedules of classes
- Sub plans (this could also be its own separate binder)
- Student data (this could also be its own separate binder)
- Parent Communication Forms
- Meeting Notes and agendas
- Pockets to hold important papers/notes/forms/etc.
There’s really no wrong answer about what to include in a teacher binder. It can be as fancy or as basic as you like.
How do you make a teacher binder?
You’ve got some options. You can quickly and easily make your own or you can buy some printable options on Teachers Pay Teachers. You’ll find links at the end of this article so you can get started FAST!
The binder I’m using this year is my own creation that I’ve developed from over 25 years of teaching. I’ve learned what works for me and what doesn’t work for me. That will be different for everyone. But I can say without a doubt – every single year I’ve made minor changes.
Size does matter:
I first tried a small binder. I quickly outgrew it. Then I moved into several different binders for different topics, which made me feel like I had too many binders.
So I tried a really thick binder – that way I’d only have ONE huge binder to lug around. Well, that was exactly the problem – it was HUGE! I started to hate it – so the enormous, cumbersome binder didn’t work for me.
More is better:
Now I’m back to having 4 different binders. I use:
- A Teacher Binder
- A Substitute Teacher Binder
- An IEP Caseload Binder
- A Student Data Binder
I’m comfortable with these four binders. The category of each is different enough that I don’t get them confused. I also prefer to use different colors for each different binder – less confusion for my frazzled mind.
Teacher Binder Organization
You’ll need just a few supplies to set up your binders. The only thing you MUST have when getting started is an attractive binder (of course you’re welcome to use an old, beat-up binder if you insist!).
To really get organized, grab some binder clips, page protectors, and possibly pocket folders for some serious organization.
Write down what you plan to keep in your binder and layout your pages if possible so you can see exactly what you’re working with. Split up each section with page dividers and tabs to find what you need quickly.
All of my binder sets come with tabs that you can edit and print yourself, or you can buy some ready-to-go tabs at the store and they stick directly to the pages or page dividers.
I suggest printing your binder cover in color, but it’s personal preference if you want your page dividers in color.
If you have access to a color printer and plan to use the dividers for more than one year – go for it! But black and white works great also – because here’s the secret – you don’t really look at the page dividers all that much anyway!
You can simply slide the dividers into a page protector pouch and attach a binder tab – this kind of organization is so easy.
The Teacher Binder – Yep, you need this
This is the binder that I use all day, every day because my daily lesson plans, small group plans, and grade book are stored in it. This is where you keep all those teaching essentials that you need at a moment’s notice.
I also store:
- class lists and checklists
- daily schedules
- general student lists, such as which students are on IEP, 504, medical issues, etc. for quick reference (I use the Student Binder for more individualized and detailed forms)
- meeting notes and agendas
- anything I need day-to-day
- curriculum guides and pacing guides
- a yearly calendar of important dates
- my old-fashioned EZ-Grader and grade card comments list in a pocket page
- a pencil pouch with basic supplies I might need during meetings, etc.
The best part about this binder is that you have everything you need at your fingertips. I also love being able to grab it when I head to a meeting.
You might want to also add pocket folders. I 3-hole punch them and slip them right into the binder.
OK – I’m gonna get honest and embarrassingly shallow here.
I LOVE having an attractive binder that’s nice to look at and fun to use. It’s worth a little splurge on a great binder – it’s my little gift to myself every fall. Plus, I want the color that I want – whatever that might be for that particular year. Who wants one of those cheap binders that start falling apart and are hard to open and close.
I want the softer cover binder in a pretty color.
Shallow? Umm, yeah. But if it brightens my day and gives me a little lift right when I need it most – who cares! I work hard and I deserve it.
I use this binder to store most everything related to individual students. The student lists and information in this binder is more detailed than that in my teacher binder.
You may want to store:
- IEP related information, accommodations, modifications, full IEPs
- 504 plans, medical plans, behavior plans
- intervention plans
- running records for your classes and small groups, data information
- student notes and observations
- conferencing notes
- response to intervention forms (RTI)
- conference forms/parent communications
What you keep in this binder really varies based on your grade level, assignment, and personal preferences. This binder can become huge if you let it. You’ll want to re-evaluate your needs and what you keep in it from year to year or it will become ENORMOUS.
Substitute Teacher Binder
This takes a while to set up the first time, but really, really helps when you’re going to be out of school for a day or so. Do the hard work upfront before you feel sick or have a family issue or emergency to deal with.
Here’s a list of the basics to include:
- Class procedures should be one of the first pages in this binder. You’ll want to include everything from lining up for recess and specials to using the restroom. Be sure to briefly explain your discipline policy and list names and room numbers of helpful teachers.
- I keep our daily schedule in the very front along with delay schedules and any other types of schedules that your sub may need.
- You also want to keep an updated list of students who will be in your room during each time of the day. Some classrooms are particularly confusing with students coming and going to meet with other teachers and counselors. I like to indicate which students are especially helpful if the sub has questions or needs help during class.
- Emergency Sub Plans – you need these in case there’s a time that you’re unable to make it into the school or send detailed plans. These plans can be review lessons and practice materials that can be implemented and used at any time of year.
- I also like to leave some extra time activities or puzzles, like word searches, coloring pages, crosswords, etc.
- Also be sure to include a pocket folder of forms for attendance, discipline, lunch count, etc.
Where can I get these teaching binders?
Click on the links below to check out these Teaching Binders on Teachers Pay Teachers.
Teacher Binder – This set of teacher binder organization forms helps you organize your teaching essentials into one important teacher binder. It includes lesson plans, grade book, substitute binder, student forms, small groups, binder covers, and so much more! This teacher binder is almost COMPLETELY EDITABLE with PowerPoint.
Student Data Binder – You need to track students’ data, right? This set of EDITABLE data and progress monitoring forms can be simply printed off and used today or you can customize them to fit your needs for progress monitoring, student data binders, response to intervention (RTI), and data collection forms. They’re EDITABLE with PowerPoint!
Student Leadership Binder –This set includes student leadership data forms for progress monitoring that work with student leadership programs. This kit complements ALL leadership programs, positive behavior intervention programs, character education, RTI, and student council. Perfect for progress monitoring. The forms and graphs are EDITABLE so you can CUSTOMIZE them to work for you.
IEP Caseload Binder – This set of forms helps special education teachers and intervention specialists organize their IEP caseload with ready-to-go forms. This COMPLETELY EDITABLE set includes forms for teachers, parents, students, files, IEP planning, progress, small group forms, IEP goal writing references, accommodation/modification/intervention references and forms, binder covers, all prepared and ready to be edited and printed.
Behavior Management Bundle – This Behavior Intervention Toolkit will help you understand your student’s misbehavior and possible purposes so that you can take steps to improve the behavior. It includes many EDITABLE components for you to customize for your class.