Can’t Find It? Create It!

Guest Post by Allison Alexander July 22, 2019

This is a guest post by a friend and colleague that told me about her experience with creating a planner of her own when she couldn’t find what she was looking for and was kind enough to share her process with me so that I could share with you! Happy reading…and creating!

Let me start by saying that I am terrible when it comes to lesson planning. I have a very hard time keeping up with a planner and a calendar. I tend to forget to look at it and it becomes another paper weight on my desk. However, I always want to improve myself and work on my weaknesses, so I decided that this year I would vow to keep up with a calendar and planner. I started searching for the ideal planner, but in my search discovered that it was either too expensive, or did not meet my needs. I found a majority of teacher planners were geared towards elementary school teachers and I am a high school teacher. This is when I decided to make a list of what I would want/need in a planner. I knew I needed to be realistic with myself as far as what I was most likely to keep up with. My list included a monthly calendar for an overview and important dates, a weekly calendar for the nitty gritty daily details, to-do lists, parent contact lists and meeting notes. I decided to use Microsoft Publisher to create my own planner. I wanted something I could decorate myself, as I find adult coloring very relaxing. With this in mind, I kept the design very simple, with outlined letters I could doodle in and a design I could color myself. I searched for a mandala coloring page in the image search feature and used that as the focal point of my cover page. (I made sure the image I selected did not violate any copyright rules.) made a first page with room for my contact information and my daily schedule.

Next I decided I needed a monthly calendar. I could have chosen a pre-made calendar, but I decided to do my own so I could control the amount of space I would have to write in. This is where I made an error that I did not discover until after I had the printed copy in hand. I did not make enough room for the last week of the month! So my best friend, Sondra, who requested a copy of the planner, came up with the BRILLIANT idea that we not work the last week of the month! We can’t work that week if it does not exist, right?  I wanted the calendar to span two pages, to make plenty of room to write. I purposely left off Saturday and Sunday made those columns reserved for notes.

I wanted my weekly calendars laid out similarly in a two-page spread.

Since I love to make check off lists, I decided to include a section of to-do lists.

I also wanted a convenient place to log parent contacts. I included a place for a date, student name, type of communication: email/phone/text, and reason for contact.

I made the last section of my planner for Meeting Notes.

Once I had the sections and pages that I wanted, I decided to have it professionally printed and bound. I have had experience with Staples copy and print services before, so that is where I went to explore.  They have a presentation and manuals section, so I went there and chose “Pro-Presentations and Manuals”. This gave me the option of having it coil bound and having a clear plastic cover. I also chose a cardstock back cover, but could have selected a vinyl back cover. I saved my Publisher document as a PDF file to upload it to the Staples website so I could set up the print job. I had the option of adding tabs to separate the sections. It was in setting up the tabs that I realized that I would need to add additional pages so that my two-page calendar spreads would print correctly.  I decided to search for more mandala coloring pages and added those in.

I had the option of what type of paper to use to print the pages. I ended up choosing 32lb cotton paper, so that the pages would be heavier than copy paper, but not as heavy as card stock. I paid extra for the nicer paper, (about a $10 difference in total cost) but I think it was definitely worth the extra money. The total cost of the planner was $33.10.

If you didn’t want to have it professionally printed, you could print it yourself and put it in a 3-ring binder, or Staples can bind it for you for a small fee. I am very pleased with the outcome!

Check out this video to see a flip-through of the completed product.

This video is posted with permission on my YouTube channel. Don’t forget to go to the channel to like this video, as well as subcribe to my channel for more videos or to check out past videos!


My name is Allison Alexander and I have been teaching math for 20 years in the Polk County Public School district. I have experience teaching all levels of math from 6th-12th grade. I became National Board certified in Adolescent/Young Adulthood Mathematics in 2006. I was also the math department chairperson for 6 years at Auburndale High School before moving on to a different school. I currently teach 10th-12th grade math at Winter Haven High School.