Unless you are a poor soul that has a year-round calendar, your school year has ended (Hoorah!). It’s time to relax, decompress, and revel in going to the bathroom whenever you want. Once you are truly embracing summer and not just recuperating, I have a strong recommendation for you: Create or update your Rainy Day Binder.
What is a Rainy Day Binder?
What is a Rainy Day Binder, you ask? And why would I want to do anything “rainy” in the middle of summer break?
Summer is full of sun-shining, life-affirming, relaxation-centered days. However, during the school year there are days where you need to make your own sunshine. Teachers don’t always have cheerleaders or even regular feedback and we can fall into the trap of aggressive self-reflection with no one to stop our negative spiral.
When those days come along, you don’t need to suck it up and be tough, you simply need a reminder of better days and the valuable work that you do. When you make a Rainy Day Binder you create a small, but guaranteed ray of sunshine. A Rainy Day Binder is full or artifacts and reminders that this is one day and in all likelihood you will tackle this issue and move forward.
The Rainy Day Binder is not a new idea but in the era of instant gratification, it is often forgotten. It is so much easier to avoid your feelings of disappointment or uncertainty and play a game on your smartphone than to really tackle the issue at hand. I have had years where I stockpiled the artifacts that bring me joy like notes or drawings from students and then don’t look at them again because that drawer is too messy. What a waste! So go find that file folder, drawer, or maybe box where you put the things you can’t throw out and let’s make something beautiful instead.
Rainy Day Binder Supply List:
- View Binder
- Cover page that makes you smile
- Artifacts to include in the binder
- Page protectors or a hole punch
- Colorful paper
- Double sided tape
- 30 minutes
- A mindset of simplicity and happiness rather than overthinking and perfection
Why should I take the time to construct a Rainy Day binder?
- Sanity: At the end of the school year, I am physically and emotionally exhausted. Reviewing past Rainy Day Binder artifacts and adding new ones helps put me on the path to excitement and planning for the new school year to come.
- Happiness: It will make you smile and maybe even tear up to look back through some of the wonderful things that have happened in your classroom over the past year.
- Reflection: It’s healthy to look back on some tangible items from your year and think about what happened. What do you want to do again next year or what areas could you improve upon? The opportunities for valuable reflection in a safe space of your own making are endless.
- Organization: A file folder stuffed in the bottom of a drawer is not the same as a Rainy Day Binder.You deserve an organized and easy to flip through binder of your favorite artifacts from your teaching career.
- For yourself: This is really and truly for your soul. It is not for your evaluation, your students, or your colleagues. It isn’t a major project or undertaking, but a moment to simply create space to recognize that you have done some good this year.
What do I put in my Rainy Day Binder?
Any time you come across something that makes you think “This is why I teach”, it goes in the Rainy Day Binder. I’ve included some examples below, but remember this is your binder and you can add anything that will brighten your day.
- Student Work: This is not a record of the wonderful work that you did with your students this year. It should simply be the pieces that remind you of big achievements and wonderful moments. I tend to save assignments that remind me of students who overcame obstacles, small success in spite of big challenges, and moments when I really connected with a student.
- Photos: If you have any printed photos of your students or their work add them in! If you only have digital files, go print them!
- Thank-you notes: Notes or letters from parents, students, or colleagues that are meaningful to you.
- Emails: Take the time to print the emails that make a difference. These days, my favorite pieces of correspondence often come through email and I will forget about them if I don’t take the time to print them out and put them in a page protector.
- Awards or Accolades: Did you win or participate in something awesome or at least good this year? (You go Glenn Coco!).
When would I use this Rainy Day Binder?
Good thing I made an infographic to clear this up.
Any time you need a pick me up or to create your own sunshine, get our your Rainy Day Binder!
I can’t emphasize enough how great is to share the Rainy Day Binder with a fellow teacher, especially a new teacher. When I began teaching, I had an amazing mentor teacher. After a particularly bad day, she asked where my Rainy Day Binder was? I had no idea what she was talking about and she kindly and enthusiastically explained that I needed a binder full of artifacts to cheer me up and remind that not only that I’m doing something important, but also that I’m doing something I love.
Rainy Day Binder supplies are a great gift for a young teacher that you want to support and nourish.
Guidelines for Rainy Day Binder Assembly and Use
These are pretty straightforward and you are welcome to make your binder in any way that you choose. Spend an hour or a few days, whatever is going to rejuvenate you. Make this like a scrapbook or just get your artifacts in the page protectors, it doesn’t matter. Use tab dividers to keep different years separate or throw the pages in at random. The steps below are simply a starting point for those that want guidance.
I want to mention that I am intentionally not including photos from my Rainy Day Binder. I don’t want to influence your creative impulses or give you a standard that you feel you need to meet. The joy of a Rainy Day Binder is to make something for yourself.
- Gather your supplies in a quiet place. Attempt to find uninterrupted time.
- Put your cover in your view binder and admire the aesthetic.
- Sort through your artifacts and determine how you will add them to the binder. Do you want to group artifacts all related to one student or class? Which ones can go on a page together?
- Use double sided tape or other adhesive to attach smaller artifacts to cardstock so they don’t get lost.
- Put your collected and sorted artifacts in page protectors and then in the binder.
- Determine whether you will store your Rainy Day Binder at school or at home, consider where you need it most. Take out your binder as often as need to create your own sunshine.
- Schedule a date on your calendar to add more artifacts to your Rainy Day Binder next year!
I want you to get started and have a Rainy Day Binder of your own to love. While I cannot send you a binder through the internet, I can provide you with some beautiful covers to get you inspired. I put together 6 front and back covers for your view binder. All you need to do is download the zip file for the cover of your choice by clicking on the images below, hit print, and get going. That’s how much I want you to make a Rainy Day Binder.
Disclaimer: I did not create the images, I simply added the Rainy Day Binder text to Vera Bradley and Lilly Pulitzer templates from Happily Hope. She has many more templates, so feel free to make your own if none of these make you smile.
- Make a Rainy Day Binder! Grab your cover and your supplies and get started. I would love for you to share your experience with us in the comments or share a picture of your new binder on Twitter or Instagram with the hashtag #rainydaybinder.
- Do you already have a Rainy Day Binder? Share a picture on Twitter or Instagram with the hashtag #rainydaybinder and tell us something you love about that binder.