For most of us, the school year has ended, and we are looking forward to enjoying the summer break. Summer is a time to reflect, rejoice, and rejuvenate. For me, it is also a time to begin my new teacher notebook.
What is a teacher notebook?
It is a place where I keep all things "teacher-ish". I am notorious for writing ideas down on sticky notes or pieces of paper or in several notebooks, only to be unable to find them when I want or need them.
Keeping a teacher notebook allows me to keep everything together, and I only have one thing to keep track of. I begin a new notebook right after school gets out and begin to fill it during the summer and throughout the next school year. My personal preference is a one-subject Five Star notebook because the pages are wide for spreading out my thinking, and they have a pocket for handouts or papers I want to keep handy.
What to put in a teacher notebook?
- Things-to-do list - I keep several types of things-to-do lists. My first page is almost always things I want to do, think about, or change based on my reflections from last year. As the year goes on, I update these lists or make new ones based on my current students or instructional needs.
|Summer 2020 learning and things-to-do list.|
- Goals - This section lists goals that I want to achieve, both short-term and long-term. At the start of the summer, I choose one area that I want to focus on for summer learning. This becomes my summer goal, and I try to find resources to help me with this area of my teaching. After my last observation, I think about goals for the next school year and transfer them from the previous year's notebook.
- Plans - I do a lot of planning in this notebook from unit plans to classroom procedures to blog posts. Organizing on paper allows me time and space to think.
|I mapped out a novel plan using |
A Novel Approach by Kate Roberts
- Professional Development Notes - Professional development is a huge part of my teaching life. I take notes from podcasts, blog posts, articles, videos, PD sessions, and conferences and keep them in my notebook. When I need to go back and find something, it makes it much easier to have all of my notes in one place. Many times I will read, listen, or watch something more than once. When I do this, I use a different color of pen to make my notes.
|My notes from a Penny Kittle - yes, |
I watched it at least three times.
- Professional Book Notes - I read (or sometimes just buy!) professional books because I am always looking for ways to improve my teaching. I take my notes from the margins of the book and write in my notebook how I want to apply them in my classroom. Sometimes, these become a goal or a plan in my other sections.
- Book Talks - I believe in living and sharing a literate life with my students. To do this, I need to read the books they are reading, and I need to talk about them. To keep track of the books I have read and to remember what the books are about, I keep notes for my book talks. After I give a book talk, I put a checkmark beside them.
How do I set up my teacher notebook?
I section my notebook and use sticky tabs as markers. The order of the sections changes from year to year, as I often mark a section as I begin them in the summer. The important part is to have some sort of organizational system so the information is easy to find when needed.
I hope you consider using a teacher notebook this year, especially if organizational skills are a weakness. Keeping a teacher notebook is one of the best ways to keep me organized. If you already use a teacher notebook, please tell us about it in the comments. I would love to continue the conversation in the "teacher hallway!"
|My collection of teacher notebooks.|