Have you ever gotten really sick or had one of your own kiddos get really sick last minute? Has there been a family emergency you had to attend to? Have you ever had a day where you are barely hanging on and it’s only 8:15AM? If the answer to either of these questions is “Yes,” then keep reading! If the answer to either of these questions is, “No,” either you are a superhero or you need to think back a little further! We all have days where things just don’t go as planned. When we have these days, a classroom binder can be your best friend.
What is a classroom binder?
A classroom binder is like Steve (from Blue’s Clues) handy-dandy notebook. This binder is a great place for you to go for a quick reference guide as well as a substitute teacher. Having a classroom binder on hand will help make getting ready for a sub so much easier and it can help you be organized as well. While you can put as many things in your binder as you want, here are the top five things every classroom binder needs (plus one bonus idea)!
#1 Who are you?!
The first thing every classroom binder needs is a list of the students in the classroom. With this list, if possible, you should include small picture and any “need to know” information that someone may need. This information can include anything from allergies, to how helpful this student is, or who they should not sit by.
Along with having your student information here, you can include the seating chart as well as parent contact information. Having student information in your classroom binder will help you take careful notes on your students that may be helpful for academic, behavior, or both can help make your classroom run smoothly. Plus, if you have their parent contact information right there, it is easy access for you in case you need to call for a good or not so great reason.
This information in your classroom binder will also help your substitute teacher if you have one because they will know:
- who is who,
- which students are super helpful
- who shouldn’t sit by who
- where they are all supposed to be sitting
All of this information helps a day run smoothly when you are gone.
#2 What should I do?
Another piece of the classroom binder that is a must have is your lesson plan. Now you will have to update this because we know our plans tend to change daily, but it will help immensely. If you happen to be gone randomly and you have a sub, your lesson plans are right there so if you can’t get something typed up he/she has something to go off of.
In addition to helping your substitute out, having your lesson plans handy can help you stay more organized. Even if they are a scratched out mess at the end of the week, knowing what is happening tomorrow before you go home can make for a more peaceful night at home.
#3 Can you do that?
The next piece of the classroom binder that is vital is a list of classroom rules. These rules don’t have to be huge, in fact they can be quite simple. Having the rules there along with the consequences for breaking said rules will help you stay consistent and give a substitute an idea as to how the students should be acting.
Having your classroom rules in the binder can also be helpful for students. You can always remind them of the rules and consequences by referencing the sheet of paper you have in the binder. While you will most likely have your classroom rules posted, the consequences are not always son display. This gentle one-on-one reminder can help prevent a bad moment for you and a student.
#4 How do I get there?
Another part of the classroom every single day is how to get from point A to point B. Whether that is from one subject to the next or from the classroom to the gym. Having classroom procedures for how your day will run is so important for the success of your classroom. Putting these classroom procedures in your classroom binder is a must have!
Not only does this help out a substitute who may be in your classroom, it can also help you remember exactly what the day should look like. In addition, if you have handy helpers in your classroom, this procedure page can help you remember who is doing what and when. This will prevent jealousy and accidently skipping over someone as well.
#5 Can I call you?
Finally, the last piece you should put in your classroom binder is your contact information. Why you may ask? There are two reasons:
- In case you accidently lose the binder or leave it somewhere.
- If a substitute teacher needs to ask you a question, the information is right there.
We have all put something somewhere and forgotten about it. Heaven forbid you bring your classroom binder to a conference to update it during the summer and leave it there! Having your contact information in there will ensure you get this precious book back as soon as possible.
Another reason to have your contact information in there is simple to ensure that your substitute can get help from the expert if needed. While we all leave very clear directions (to us), sometimes questions arise and if you’re the only who can answer them, you want to be available if possible. I always tell substitute teachers to text and call me if I don’t answer right away. If I know I won’t be able to answer the phone, I put that in my sub note and name someone they can talk to if needed.
BONUS #6 Motivation Station!
You thought that was all I had right? Wrong! I have one more, short little bit of bonus information for you. Make sure you have a motivation station in your classroom binder. This motivation station is just for you and can be a multitude of things:
- A photo of your family, kids, pets, or anything that makes you happy
- A motivational quote you love.
- A note your received from a former student, parent, or loved one
Anything that makes you smile when you feel like you might break down should go in this area. You’ll be thankful for it when it is just “one of those days.”
There are so many things we need to think about in our classroom that we don’t even like to think about days that aren’t perfect. Having a classroom binder for those unexpected days off or those hectic days that you didn’t see coming can help save you. Remember, there’s no limit to what you can have in your classroom binder; the sky is the limit!
If you need a classroom binder for your classroom…I’m here to help! You can grab my ULTIMATE CLASSROOM BINDER below! You will get 181 pages to help get your classroom binder assembled!