Making Life Easier in the Classroom
Can you add some ideas?
posted by Ginny on the Teacher Chatboard
Here's a list of 4 things I've done to make classroom life easier. Can you add some timesaving ideas for teachers?
- Have a community tissue box. Each child brings the BIG box of tissues at the beginning of the year and then one box is out at a time. If the supply runs out before the end of the year, students are asked to bring another box. (Depends on how many colds students get over the course of a year.)
- Create an assignment notebook using a pre-designed assignment sheet 3 hole punched with places for each subject and for page numbers, etc. During the course of the day, fill in what was assigned. Keep the notebook in an easy to access spot and a stack of blank assignment sheets near the notebook. When a child misses a day of school, the student knows exactly where to get the list of work missed--it becomes the student's responsibility to deal with missing work due to absences. (For lower grades, use the copy machine to copy the list of work missed, older children can make copies for self.)
- Using a coffee cup or similar container, have pencils on your desk for students to use when they can't find theirs. I had free pencils from banks, businesses, etc. I also had the janitor put pencils in the cup that she found in the halls after school (instead of sweeping them up and throwing them away). There were always pencils there for student use.
- See if your community has one of those phone lines where you can call in the day's work each day--so when kids are absent from school and want work they can make that call OR when students get home and can't remember what they were to do they can make the call. (We had one and we called in the work daily--it only took a few minutes and saved us much, much time. Parents also used the line to check if students really had their work done!)
Posted by wig (one more idea):
4a. If the above isn't available, post your assignments on a free site such as www.schoolnotes.com
Posted by Emmy:
- Community baby wipes. Cleans carpet, cleans boards, cleans spills, children can get them on their own.
- Type a class list with a spot at the top to write in and two spaces after each name. Use them to check off who brought what. Use them for quickie grade sheets etc.
- A place for everything and everything in its place
Posted by dot2:
- Copy using colored paper anything that is never to be thrown away by the students such as formulas, rules, procedures, reading logs, etc. I give about 5% of the original number of replacements that I used to. Also helps kids to find what they are looking for in their folder.
- Give kids graph paper to use for basic operations when using larger numbers. It keeps everything in a straight row and place value is clear.
- I have 4 electric pencil sharpeners, 4 Kleenex boxes, and 4 sets of anything we use frequently in the four corner of the room. Replaces the excuse of wandering to get something in another area.
- Use sign up sheets for those wanting to take AR tests, borrow a certain book, etc. so there is no arguing over whose turn it is. I have these lists on a clipboard velcroed to the wall.
- Use those new Glad or Ziploc disposable containers for supplies. It keeps your cupboards really neat. I also use them for game pieces. Ziploc bags make great puzzle piece holders. I slip the picture from the front of the box into the bags.
- Have a sub file with enough lessons for 2 weeks in the front of a desk drawer in case of emergency.
- Mark little post-its with the word "master". When you have copies in a file this keeps you from giving away your last and lets you know it is time to copy.
- Buy a rolling set of Iris Carts (plastic drawers) and put all your art supplies in it. Then just wheel it into the classroom whenever you will need it. Mine contains scissors, glue, tape, colored pencils, markers, fancy scissors, punches, colored paper, scratch paper, paints, etc.
Posted by Donna music/TN:
- Get a cheap all-in one printer on eBay. I got one that uses the same cartridges as the standard provided by the school for about $50. It is well worth the $$ to be able to make single or small numbers of photocopies in the room (like when you find out you're one handout short on your last class of the day!)
- Put your class lists on excel, even if you keep grades elsewhere (I also do my grades on excel, and recommend it). It saves a lot of time to be able to resort my rolls when new students are added, hide students without deleting them, and print out new lists when I need them!
- Do only what only you can do-have kids do most of the additional work-they usually love to help and do it (I have some music assistants who come in during the homeroom period and do most of my filing, stapling, sorting, etc) and it saves a ton of time!
Posted by Sara/ca/4:
- Write the word "original" on the appropriate page in yellow highlighter. It doesn't copy on the Xerox machine and you'll know which one not to throw/give away!
- For older grades (and it only took me 12 YEARS to figure this one out!) use a large desk calendar with removable throw away type pages for your calendar in the classroom. You can write on it, rip it off at the end of the month and NO MORE CHANGING THOSE SILLY LITTLE CALENDAR CUT OUTS!
- When setting up Bboards for the year, think about putting the last color paper you'll need for year down first and so on until you come the paper you need to start the year. That is...maybe put yellow down first, then red, then orange. This way you only have to change the paper as the seasons change.
I'm sure I have more...but I'm just not thinking "school" yet!
Posted by MaryB (off the subject a little):
- A couple of teachers at my school have them in their rooms. I haven't priced them but suppose they are more than I'd like to spend. It would be great for when I come up one or two copies short after five English classes during the day. Our copy room is only down the hall from my room but don't dare leave to run that extra copy off and the new rule last year was that students aren't allowed in that room anymore to run copies.
Posted by sara/ca/5th:
- Using your class list, make a label template that you can use to label EVERYTHING! I use them for identifying student artwork, mailboxes, name tags, student folders, any thing that needs a student name on them...ummm.... thinking as I type here.... crayon boxes...
- I ordered labels from Colorful Images with my name and school address on them to use for sending notes home to parents. It just seems to personalize the notes home. I also use the labels on the back of blank large index cards that my students have decorated for postcards. Since they have my school address on them, my district will pay for postage!
- For my plan book, I am going to make labels this year for all the specials we have. That way, all I have to do is slap a label on the plan book instead of writing it over, and over, and over, and over all year long!
Hmmm I'm sure I'll come up with more later!
- Buy a self-inking date stamper.
Posted by dalily:
- I keep printed "reminder" strips such as "Use Your Own Paper, Please" or "Answers Only" by the copy machine in the teachers' workroom. When needed, I place one on the original, make copies, and leave the slip for the next teacher to use.
Posted by dot2:
- I make my own stickers for student papers either on computer or with my rubber stamps that say things specifically for my class. I keep them in a little box on my desk. Things like "please correct with TA help", "You are now ready to take your AR test. Please sign up for that."
Posted by Jaycee/TX:
- Put a bottle of hand sanitizer beside the Kleenex box for sneezes.
- Take a spray bottle of cold water fountain water to the playground to spray the back of the kids necks or faces (if they want) when they get hot.
- I make sure when I leave in the afternoon that everything is out and ready for the next day.... just in case I get ill.
- Fidgets: This is a basket of squeezy/tactile things for my ADHD and autistic kids who can't focus. It is amazing how they will sit and listen to a story or a lesson when they have something in their hands to squeeze. I just found this out last year and I am a believer!
Posted by Junebug:
- Well-filled snack box, private stash of important medicines such as Advil
Migraine and Imodium; Bounty paper towels; toothbrush and tpaste and other
assorted hygiene essentials; extra money, including coins for the pop machine,
etc. My room is my home away from home. Believe me, word will get out about your
mini-pharmacy and fellow teachers will appreciate your efforts, too.
- Now, to get back to what type of tips you really wanted. I bought one of those wall unit, color-coded, swinging type, organizers for important papers. It has about 8 two-sided inserts, which means 16 of my most important papers at my fingertips at any moment! I find I go to it most for reminders about schedules and phone numbers to call parents. I bought it from School Specialty catalog. It was very pricey but I will use it for the next 16 years. Most secretaries have one of these or more. Check out your office to see what I mean.
Posted by KG:
- Here is an idea I got from a fellow teacher for seating charts. Cut small post-it notes in half, and write the student's names on them. Arrange the notes on a piece of copier paper, for the seating chart. Keep this in a plastic cover. When you need to rearrange the seating, simply move the pieces around. This saves time, as you don't have to rewrite the students' names. I have the class period typed at the top of the paper - so it is easy to see what class I'm looking at. Also, if you need to do a quick check of homework, and your grade book is not handy, you can mark on the plastic with overhead markers, then erase later.
Posted by Grub:
- I have turn-in boxes or one open box and one real mailbox. Students must turn in any homework or notes from parents in the appropriate box when they unpack in the AM. I read the parent notes ASAP, but NOT while getting class started.
- I have a grid on one sheet of paper with all 20 kid's names on it, one per square. There is enough space to write things in the child's box. I keep this on a clipboard on a hook on the side of my wooden desk. I use it to note who understands concepts (or not) during group work, who needs more work with something etc. My assistant, or volunteers can get it and help individuals as noted and I can use it to write comments on grade reports, make phone calls to parents, see trends, etc.
- I also keep hand sanitizer and "kid" wipes handy. We call it "germ gel".
- For primary and below: I put different little shapes or cutouts on the floor with clear contact to line up on. It helps them space themselves out and I can ask questions of those in line while we wait for stragglers. I ask things like who is standing on a blue square AND standing behind a girl? I change them monthly to letters, numbers, symbols, animals, other teacher's photos... I have used the same idea for seating in the circle area in special ed.
Posted by lauriejo/grade 3:
- All units are packed in the "sweater box" sized plastic boxes. They fit 8 1/2" x 11" papers, note cards, magazines, trade books etc and are clear. I label each with the theme name. I have one for each month too.
- Just like the pencil cup... I keep "sharing box" es for colored pencils and crayons. If you don't have that color or yours is too old and broken, trade it in! All pencils etc on the floor at night go in the sharing box.
- I too chose one color of copy paper to be mine. All notes home are on this color, copies of class policies, notes about parties etc. THEN I made my own desk note pad. On the top it says "From the desk of..." or "A note from...". There are 4 per sheet and I also copy them on the colored paper.
- My masters are laminated. I never accidentally use them plus they stay good looking, not all crinkled.
- I keep a box of "food" supplies containing paper plates, cups, spoons, forks, baggies etc. Once for a birthday, a mom sent a whole cake but no plates, knives, forks etc. I was really
Posted by caniseetoo:
- I keep all my masters in a binder in clear plastic sheets. I have one binder for each subject.
Posted by tms:
I've shared these before, but...
- Never do anything in the classroom that a student would be thrilled to do for you. I train a few (borrowed) grade five students on bulletin board dismantling (and sometimes they put them up for me, too). They do my stapling, sorting, cutting out, etc. and love it!
- For any standard rubrics/criteria I use, I print labels. I bought a large package of 10 per sheet Avery labels two years ago and still have about a third left. Rather than making comments on everything I just print out the criteria, stick it on and highlight or check off the appropriate items. That way, the only comments I have to write are the unique ones. Also, by using labels there are no stapled on or loose papers to lose so they are always together.
- Record marks in the format used on reports. It seems so simple, but I wasn't doing it. We use a 1 - 5 reporting scale, but there I was recording my math marks with things like 13/15, 28/30 and constantly calculating. Last year I started marking things as they came, but recording them using 1 - 5 (with my criteria carefully preset.) What a dream report cards were! I could glance at my mark sheet and pretty much know where a child fell, and only had to calculate and average a few who were kind of on the cusp.
- I have this wonderful notes home to parents book. It's out of print, but I was able to search Amazon and they found me three copies. It's a book of blanks, but each sheet makes a carbonless record of itself. You pull out the original and have a copy to keep. Now I have a copy of every note I send home, dated and identical without having to walk to the photocopier.
Posted by Mary/PA:
- Make digital copies of everything. Doing so makes it easy to find what you need quickly, it doesn't take up physical storage space, you have what you need all the time at home or school without carrying a lot of weight back and forth, and making copies is a breeze especially if your school computer has a network connection to the copying machine. Of course, keep a back-up or two of these important files.
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