What is a Teacher Planner? Find the Best One for You

What is a teacher planner?

A teacher planner is a notebook or binder that teachers use to organize their time, tasks, and class information. Like standard personal planners, they generally include a calendar for managing time. However, teacher planners generally cover July through June (as opposed to January through December) in order to align with the academic year.

As you might expect, teacher planners are as unique and diverse as teachers. In fact, they can range from simple planners that span the academic year to customized planners that track attendance and assignments as well as store class rosters, lesson plans, and other important information. Additionally, sometimes teacher binders and teacher planners are the same thing, and sometimes a teacher may supplement their planner with an additional binder.

In our experience, academic planners (i.e., planners that cover the academic year) with extra blank pages are the most versatile type of planner for teachers.

Do teachers need planners?

Yes, teachers need planners to organize time for lesson plans and daily tasks, as well as store class information. Using a planner to organize these things boosts productivity and makes it easier to balance long-term and short-term goals.

Indeed, we’ve discussed how planners help with goals before, and that applies to teachers as well. However, it’s also important to keep in mind that “teaching is a work of heart.” So ideally, your teacher planner should work both as a time-management tool and as a motivational tool. Whether or not you are engaged and inspired is something your students will pick up on, so it’s worth attending to.

Different types planners for teachers

1) Academic planners

In order to choose the best teacher planner for you, first you have to know what’s out there. We’ll start with simple teacher planners based on the academic year (or academic planners). These types of planners are generally preprinted with dates from July through June in order to better align with the average school year. The best academic planners for teachers also have plenty of blank pages that offer a DIY approach to customization.

2) Custom-printed teacher planners

Then there are custom-printed teacher planners. For example, these popular ones from Plum Paper, where you can have customized class and subject information printed right in the planner. Spiral-bound notebooks are the most popular format for both preprinted and custom planners.

3) DIY teacher planners

Additionally, some teachers prefer a 3-ring binder for ultimate flexibility and/or maximum capacity. These DIY teacher planners are generally filled with free printable pages designed by and for teachers, original pages created from scratch, or some combination of both. Moreover, some teachers may prefer using an academic planner for day-to-day time management in combination with a teacher binder to manage advanced tasks, detailed guidelines, and specific information.

Overall best planner for teachers

Of course, different teachers will have different needs, but overall, a simple academic planner with lots of extra pages is the best choice for teachers. While a custom-printed teacher planner is nice, the price point definitely makes it a luxury for many teachers. On the other hand, a fully DIY teacher planner is the cheapest option, but it takes more time to create from scratch.

In contrast, an academic planner with extra blank pages is affordable, easy to customize, and ready to use quicker than a fully DIY option. We love this one (Avery 29874) because it comes with free planner stickers, storage pockets, monthly calendars, horizontal weekly pages, and extra pages for notes. The extra pages even come in a variety of lined, dotted, and grid sheets!

What should a teacher planner have?

Essentially, every teacher planner should include 12 monthly spreads, weekly spreads for each month, and blank pages that can be customized as needed. Blank pages are especially important because there are a range of pages many teachers need, but the priority of these pages is unique to each teacher. Furthermore, there are some advanced teacher planner elements that can be useful for some teachers and unnecessary for others. For this reason, we’ve broken down what a teacher planner should have into three distinct categories:

1) Teacher planner must-haves

When it comes to time management, a teacher planner absolutely must have 12 monthly spreads and weekly spreads for each month. This is necessary so that teachers can manage long-term goals, plans, and units that span two or more weeks (if not several months). Monthly spreads are balanced against weekly spreads that track day-to-day plans, lessons, activities, and other tasks. Equally important are blank pages that teachers can use to add class lists, seating charts, parent information, meeting notes, and other important information.

  • 12 monthly spreads
  • Weekly spreads
  • Blank pages

2) Teacher-added planner sections

Blank pages are essential to teacher planners because there are quite a few different resources teachers may need to reference daily or weekly. This type of information can be added to blank pages in a planner or added to custom-printed or DIY planners based on the individual teacher’s needs. Some planner sections you may like to add to your planner include:

  • Class list
  • Parent contacts
  • Communication log
  • Passwords and logins
  • Substitute information
  • Medical information
  • Seating chart

3) Advanced planner sections

Additionally, there are a few extra sections that are not needed daily but are very important for reference. For example, macro-level guidelines such as Common Core standards for your state or county, curriculum calendars, and pacing guides are useful resources. In contrast, micro-level guidelines specific to your class are also useful in your teacher planner. Examples include subject sections, small group lesson plans, and individualized education programs (IEPs). Not to mention student data and meeting notes to track student progress throughout the year.

If you require these types of hyper-specific sections, creating your own DIY teacher planner with a binder is a good solution. That way, you can reuse pages that may not change from year to year and have room for as many pages as you need. Another popular solution is to use a teacher planner for day-to-day time management in harmony with a teacher binder. In this scenario, the binder can include more detailed reference materials and long-term road mapping.

  • Common Core standards
  • Curriculum calendars
  • Pacing guides
  • Lesson plans
  • IEPs
  • Student Data
  • Meeting Notes

What should I keep in my teacher binders?

When it comes to deciding what you should keep in your teacher binder, you basically have two options. Option one is to keep everything (and the kitchen sink, so to speak) in one binder. While this does reduce the number of binders you need, it can quickly become unwieldy. Another option is to use a teacher planner (or second binder) for time management and keep more detailed materials in your teacher binders. This would include things like lesson plans, student information, and the like.

Below is a table with our recommendations for dividing teacher resources between a planner and what you should keep in a teacher binder. If you haven’t decided on what type of binder to use, check out our helpful binder resource page where you can quickly browse different styles and compare features.

What to keep in a teacher binder vs. a teacher planner

Teacher BinderTeacher Planner
Substitute info
Medical info
Communication log
Common Core standards
Curriculum calendars
Pacing guides
Lesson plans
Student Data
Meeting Notes
Daily agendas
Class goals
Unit/lesson schedule
Class list
Seating chart
Passwords & logins
Parent contact info

Best teacher planners for inspiration

What inspires you is truly subjective, but just getting started can sometimes feel overwhelming. Bright colors are a great place to start because scientists have actually published papers about how bright colors are strongly associated with positivity the world over. Luckily, Avery and Amy Tangerine paired up to create a collection of planners, accessories, and office supplies that start with bright rainbow colors designed to uplift.

Certainly, starting with bright rainbow colors is perfect for the teacher who needs an instant boost of happiness. On top of that, our new Avery + Amy Tangerine planners have inspiring quotes on each divider page as well as an included sticker sheet practically bursting with positivity. In fact, the best teacher planner for inspiration is the Avery + Amy Tangerine dated planner (29879), which includes all of the above and also follows the school year from July to June.

How to motivate yourself with your planner

As we’ve noted, teaching is a work of the heart, so your planner should reflect that. One way to do so is to make it visually enticing so that you’ll be excited to use it each day and fill it with the things that inspire you. You never know when you might open it and smile, and that smile is just what you needed.

Firstly, fill your teacher planner with color. As has been noted above, bright colors and positivity have a very strong bond, but you may choose to fill it with your personal favorite colors. Not only can color be used to boost your mood, but you can also use it to track progress and color-code information. In fact, we wrote a handy article with three expert tips for using color coding in your planner.

Next, decorate your teacher planner to suit your tastes. From writing your favorite quotes or inspirational sayings in the margins to stickers, doodles, or collages, do whatever brings you joy. You can even paste funny comic strips from the newspaper.

Last but not least, make time for self-care. Make appointments with yourself if that’s what it takes. You can easily schedule time in your planner for things like 7 minutes of daily meditation, 15 minutes of reading your favorite book before class starts, or taking a walk at lunchtime.

How to use SMART goals in your teacher planner

SMART is an acronym that stands for Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, Time-Based. These words describe a framework for setting small goals that keep you motivated and on track towards more long-term goals and plans.

Planners and SMART goals work very well together, in part, because tracking goals keeps them front of mind and makes your progress visible. Below is a helpful breakdown to help you categorize and decide on goals to include in your teacher planner.

What are SMART goals?

SpecificThe goal is narrow, so the steps to success are clear.
MeasurableThere is a quantifiable way to measure success and track progress.
Attainable You can reasonably accomplish the goal.
RelevantThe goal aligns with your larger plan and long-term goals.
Time-basedThere is an end date for the goal.
SMART goals acronym definition at a glance.

Free printable SMART planner stickers

An example of a SMART goals tracking sticker created with Avery 61512 decal sheet and a free Avery template. The sticker is shown inside a planner notebook and on the full decal sheet which includes other planner stickers too.

Print this sticker sheet on decal sheet 61512 using a laser or inkjet printer. Or, order the design on a custom-printed Surface Safe® removable label sheet.

For more sticker tips, check out our guide to making DIY planner stickers.

Avery planner accessories including dashboards, stickers, wet-dry erase markers, Ultra Tabs, and an adhesive corner pocket are shown laid out next to Avery teacher planners.
Planner accessories should be fun and functional, so you get the most out of using them.

Accessories for teacher planners

The right accessories bring your teacher planner to life. Not only are accessories fun to use, but they have practical applications too. For example, highlighters add a lot of color to your planner, but they are also indispensable for color-coding and prioritizing. Equally fun, yet functional are Avery Ultra Tabs®, which come in a variety of colors and even sparkly versions! They’re not only stunning to look at, but also super useful for indexing information. Below, we’ll cover a couple more types of our favorite accessories for teacher planners.

Planner stickers for teachers

Planner stickers are essential for any type of planner, and there are several kinds that work well for teachers. However, our teacher planner sticker pack is designed especially for teachers, so it’s really a no-brainer. They’re ideal for decorating as well as quickly marking holidays, appointments, and reminders.

See how to use Avery Design and Print Online software to design your own labels for planner stickers and more.

DIY planner stickers

Additionally, you can design, edit, and print DIY planner stickers right from your desk. As a matter of fact, we have thousands of free predesigned templates for labels that you can edit using our free online software, Avery Design and Print Online (ADPO). Once you’re finished personalizing the design, you can print stickers yourself on a standard laser or inkjet printer. Or, have us print them for you on professional digital printers, which is actually more affordable than you might think.

While DIY stickers are a fun project for any reason, they really come in handy for creating your own planner pages from scratch. You can even use them to cover writing on preprinted planner pages to make the pages fit your needs. In fact, blank labels with TrueBlock® are ideal for printing date covers to modify planner pages because they completely block anything underneath. Even dark ink and images, so your day and date covers look neat, professional, and pleasing to the eye.


Dashboards are plastic pages that snap into spiralbound planners and can be written on with wet or dry erase markers. This is useful for daily to-do lists, reminders, or notes on the go. Easily erasable and reusable, you don’t have to worry about wasting planner pages for jotting down temporary information or working through ideas before committing them to paper. Double-sided dashboards, like these ones, are particularly useful for teacher planners as they offer more room to work.

Planner Tip: We like to pair planner dashboards with our 24495 pen-style dry-erase marker pack in assorted colors. The vibrant colors are nice to look at and great for color-coding, while the slim, pen-style body fits easily in pencil pouches. And, of course, the bullet tips are easier to write with in small spaces than chisel-tip markers.

Corner pockets

Whether you’re organizing your classroom (which we’ve written about before here) or organizing your teacher planner, more storage is always welcome! Indeed, adhesive pockets add more storage to any planner, notebook, or binder. Our adhesive corner pockets are perfect for teacher planners because they’re made with quality adhesive and materials, just like our labels. Additionally, the corner design is the perfect size for planners and works with a range of small paper or sticker sheet sizes.

Plan an inspiring year with your teacher planner

A teacher planner is a tool to organize your time, tasks, and class information. But of course, it’s so much more than that. It’s also a place you can fill with things that inspire you. Not to mention inspiration and SMART goals that keep you motivated to achieve long-term goals and plans for yourself and your class.

What does your teacher planner mean to you? Let’s talk about it in the comments or on Facebook. And don’t forget to tag your back-to-school planner pics with #averyproducts on Instagram to share your inspiration!

Author: JoJo Mrgich

JoAnn (JoJo) Mrgich is a copywriter and SEO content writer who began her copywriting career in 2011. A musical theater major at the time, JoJo began writing blog articles, product descriptions, and other online content for a dancewear brand. Since then, she has gone on to write in a variety of fields, from essential oils and natural beauty to fashion and swimwear, finally landing at Avery, which she affectionately calls her "forever home." At Avery, JoJo writes content for the Avery blog, covering everything from organization to party planning, as well as contributing to other online content for avery.com. She is also a technical and content writer for Avery Industrial, where she writes in-depth articles that span a wide variety of topics, from safety compliance to 5S lean practices. In her personal life, JoJo is a big fan of fantasy and science-fiction works such as Lord of the Rings and Star Trek (especially the original series). She also loves going to Disneyland and runs a non-profit social organization of 600 members that brings fans of "nerd culture" together for meet-ups and events in Southern California.

One thought on “What is a Teacher Planner? Find the Best One for You”

  1. How about a loose-leaf planner in 5×7 format to accommodate planning for higher education AND business owner?

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