Using custom student planners to create classroom routine

My name is Sammi, but my students call me Mrs. Castorena! I’m an elementary school teacher and have taught second, third, and fourth-grade students in all subject areas. I love teaching and building relationships with my students- it’s the most rewarding job in the world!

Teachers have always had a lot on their plate, but when you throw in a pandemic, distance learning, and crowded classrooms, it can take extra dedication and creativity to turn your classroom into a well-oiled machine. I’ve had seasons where my classroom had students from multiple grade levels mixed into one, and I’ve also had to teach students remotely and in person at the same time. Throughout even the most chaotic of times, one resource helped my students and I stay on track: custom, pre-printed student planners.

My district provides students and teachers with a matching set of custom planners at the beginning of each year, and they are used multiple times a day in my classroom! They provide so many benefits for students such as memory retention, time management, and organizational skill building. They also make my job much easier by providing built-in academic tools and a hub for parent communication! There are so many incredible ways to implement student planners- here are a few of my personal favorites.

Grade 7 Custons studen planner

Routine & Skill Building

Many studies such as this one published in the Journal of Global Health highlight the need for students to have daily structured routines. Consistent routines and classroom structure make a positive impact on students’ mental health and learning. My classroom’s daily routine begins and ends with planners!

As an educator, I put a lot of emphasis on staying organized and passing that skill down to my students. There aren’t many items I have students keep in their desks, but the planner is a staple! Every morning when students walk in, they know to take out their planner and place it inside their desk. This is the first step in our morning routine; I love it because not only does it teach consistency but responsibility as well! Each night, students take their planners home and each morning they slide it into their desk. The ownership and accountability required to keep track of the planner overnight teaches foundational skills that students will utilize forever.

Classroom Routine

Consistent routines and classroom structure make a positive impact on students’ mental health and learning. My classroom’s daily routine begins and ends with planners.


As the day winds down, the last step in our classroom routine is to fill out our planners together. This is a two-part routine starting with recording homework and important events. Students will take out their planners and open them to the current week. I do the same while projecting my planner onto the board. We discuss any upcoming projects, homework, events, or forms and then I will record it in my planner as students copy the notes down in theirs. Next, I walk around to each student’s desk and do a check-in- I’ll dive into this in the next section. Once everyone is finished, students pack their bags for the day and head to dismissal! My students and I love the structure and routine that our planners provide.

Teacher and student using planner

Behavior Tracking & Parent Communication

Frequent communication between parents and teachers is vital to a student’s success. Research reveals that effective communication between parents and teachers can affect a broad range of issues including behavior and academic performance. My favorite quick, practical, and productive method of parent contact is using our custom printed planners! As we already know, planners are a pillar of my classroom routine and are utilized every day. This makes them a great and consistent tool to engage with my students’ families.

During my afternoon planner check-in, I walk to each student’s desk for a quick daily update. My simple but effective behavior-tracking strategy for students utilizes a stamp and a pen. If a student was on-task and well-behaved during the day, I will give them a stamp on the current day’s section. When necessary, students who may have struggled that day will receive a note in lieu of a stamp briefly explain- ing their behavior to their parents. Whether students receive a stamp or a note, they are required to show their families and have a parent or guardian sign each night. Additionally, parents are encouraged to write notes and questions for me in their child’s planner and I will respond back the next day. Parents love using this daily check-in system to stay informed about their child. Planner check-ins also keep my students motivated and on task. The smiles on their faces when they earn their stamps never get old!


Research reveals that effective communication between parents and teachers can affect a broad range of issues including behavior and academic performance.


Academic Engagement

One of my absolute favorite parts of my school’s custom planners are the built-in academic engagement tools! My district goes above and beyond to make our planners engaging with practical tools that can take teaching to the next level. Here are three of my most loved resources!

1. Whiteboard Pages

In the back of each planner is a laminated, reusable whiteboard. Teaching can get expensive, and I often buy supplies using my own personal money. These planners are a lifesaver because they keep me from having to purchase a class set of whiteboards! There are endless uses for personal whiteboards such as solving math problems, sounding out phonics words, and playing interactive learning games. I love that when students pull their planner out, it can take any lesson to the next level.

custom printed planner whiteboard

2. Stop and Go Self-Assessment Pages

Self-reflection is so important in learning. I always prioritize self-assessment and check-ins with students during lessons to make sure they’re ready to move on. Before having custom planners, I used to have to make my own resources. Now, students have built in, color-coded cards that they can hold up during lessons to communicate with me. When a student is feeling lost or overwhelmed, they know they can hold up the “stop” card in their planner and I will slow down and reteach the content. This removes the pressure from asking questions and provides an anonymous, non-verbal way to ask for help

custom printed planner stop go cards

3. Reading Logs

At-home reading is a part of my student’s weekly homework assignments. Creating and printing my own reading logs is another task that having custom planners took off my plate. Our planners have pre-print- ed reading logs that students can use to track their reading and take notes throughout the week. This makes my job as a teacher so much easier as it frees up time to focus on other things!

custom printed planner reading logs

A Small Tool with a Big Impact

It never ceases to amaze me how a simple tool like a planner can have such a profound impact on students. Using a custom, preprinted planner keeps my students on track, increases their motivation, heightens their engagement, allows for parent communication, and creates structured routines throughout our day. After a few years of using student planners daily, I can’t imagine my classroom without them!

If you are interested in ordering custom, pre-printed student planners for your district or school, I highly recommend Mimeo Planners! Their beautiful, durable, and high-quality planners have everything you need to stay organized and make learning fun!

Frequent communication between parents and teachers is vital to a student’s success. Research reveals that effective communication between parents and teachers can affect a broad range of issues including behavior and academic performance. My favorite quick, practical, and productive method of parent contact is using our custom printed planners! As we already know, planners are a pillar of my classroom routine and are utilized every day. This makes them a great and consistent tool to engage with my students’ families.