By Teachers, For Teachers
As we all know, teachers are very busy people. There is always something to do, and not enough time to do it. You will most likely never see the end of your “To do” list because every day it feels like you just keep on adding to the list. As soon as the first bell rings, it’s a race against the clock to use classroom management to accomplish all of your tasks on your list by the end of the day.
Even though many of you have set specific times for when a lesson or activity will end, that usually doesn’t happen, and you end up needing more time. What you need is to find some sanity by using some minute-saving hacks. Here are some teacher-tested classroom management ideas that have been found to be quite effective.
Do you remember back in the day in gym class when you had to count off by numbers to see what team you would be on? Well, this strategy was, and still is, very effective. But instead of having students count off, you just select a different number for each student and that is the number they will use for the entire school year. This number will be embedded in their head and engraved at their desks and will be used for absolutely everything. Forget calling them by their name, this number is now their new name (just kidding). But, you get what I mean, this number will be what they refer to. It will be on their books, in their lockers or cubbies, on their homework, and used when it’s time to line up. If they go to computer lab and their number is “10,” then they will sit at the 10th computer.
Teach students to line up according to their number. This way, when you need a head count when you are at an assembly, at the playground, or on a field trip, you can easily find who is missing. If your students forget to put their name on their homework, crisis adverted, because it will already have their number on it. Or, if a student loses their textbook or you find a missing textbook, all you have to is look at the number inside of the book. This number hack is by the far the number-one teacher hack that is used in classrooms, in my opinion.
Always be prepared and plan for the whole week ahead of time. Now, most of you already do this on paper, but do you have all of your materials all set, organized, and ready to go? This is where your organizational skills will come in handy. If you are planned out a week in advance, not only will it save you time (and some sanity), but it will be so easy for the substitute if you were to have an unexpected absence. An easy way to keep all of your lessons and activities organized is to buy one of those plastic five drawer towers and label each drawer for every day of the week. All you have to do is place your materials for the day in the drawer, and you are all set. Not only will this teacher hack keep you organized, but it will save you a lot of time. There will be no wasted time running around looking for center activities, or worksheets because it will all be the drawer for that specific day.
Just as you planned a week out in advance, you will need to set up everything for the following day. While all of your materials for the next will be in your plastic tower, you will still need to “Set up” the rest of the classroom before you leave for the day. Treat each afternoon before you leave like you were going to be absent the following day. Here’s why. You never know if something is going to come up, so you always have to be prepared.
So before you leave for the night, take out all of the contents in the tower for the next day and place it in order (from the first lesson to the last) on your desk. Then, place your “Sub tub” or substitute folder next to that, along with your attendance and seating chart. This is a huge timesaver, and you will never lose any time searching for materials in the next morning because they will all be waiting for you on your desk.
These are just three, simple, small time-saving tips that many teachers use to make their life a little bit easier. You will still most likely always have something on your “To do” list, but these tips may help you get a little more time to check some of those items off of your list.
Do you use any of these teacher-tested time saving hacks? Or, do you have any other ideas that work better in your classroom? Please share your thoughts in the comment section below, we would love to hear what you have to say.
Janelle Cox is an education writer who uses her experience and knowledge to provide creative and original writing in the field of education. Janelle holds a Master's of Science in Education from the State University of New York College at Buffalo. She is also the Elementary Education Expert for About.com, as well as a contributing writer to TeachHUB.com and TeachHUB Magazine. You can follow her at Twitter @Empoweringk6ed, or on Facebook at Empowering K6 Educators.