When I hear the word “organization,” I think of beautiful containers filled with immaculate supplies organized in rainbow color order. While that might be very pinnable, it is not often the reality in a classroom or in the life of a teacher. Function and time saved trump beauty in my classroom. I need organization to save time or to save my sanity. I asked some of my teacher friends to share one little thing they do that makes all the difference in their day. The best are below.
1. On Students Copying Notes Down
Julia says, “Color-code the material on your PowerPoints. In my classroom, anything in red is written in kids’ notes, blue is for sentence stems kids should use when they speak, and purple is for anything they have to both speak and write.” Julia teaches reading, but this is so applicable to all subjects. Students often ask, “Do we have to write this down?” Or students try to write EVERYTHING down, often keeping you from moving on. If changing color in the moment is a bit of a hassle, then consider starring the most important points as you are writing.
2. On Morning and After-School Routines
Leah says, “Normalize your morning routine for what you need to do each morning. Create a checklist. Same for the afternoon. What things do you need to do before you leave to ensure you are ready for tomorrow?” You can see my after-school checklist here. I called it my closing routine: objective on the board, copies made, desk (mostly) clear, and parents contacted.
3. Fanny Pack or Teacher Toolbelt
Amara says, “Wear a teacher tool belt/fanny pack so there is never any need to walk all the way back to your desk.” Yes, yes, yes! I don’t know about your teacher apparel, but too many of my dresses and skirts do not have pockets! The fanny pack was my ultimate pocket. It is where I clip my timer, keep my cell phone and school keys, and house all of my pens/markers/highlighters. Mine can be found here. I wore this fanny pack every day for five years. Want something less expensive? Amara uses a Home Depot apron.
4. Chromebook Organization
This is by far the most beautiful Chromecart I have ever seen. I use rainbow tape on Chromebooks, Chromebook slots, and the chargers to keep things organized, but Sally holds students accountable by also putting students’ names in each slot. This might seem like a huge project, but it might be the perfect job for a student teacher, a teacher’s aide, or a parent volunteer. And, it will save time and headaches in the long run.
5. Scan and Save Completed Answer Keys
This is my favorite hack from most recent years. I spent hours each week making answer keys – the type of keys where you work out every problem without a calculator and exactly how you would want a student to do so with no shortcuts. That way, when I circulated, I could spot errors within students’ work – not just their incorrect answer. Each year, I would complete a new key, even if the lesson did not change. Then, finally, my assistant principal made it a requirement that my answer keys had to be uploaded to our shared folder for her to review. At first, I found this to be a huge time waster, but when a parent asked for the notes one day, I was able to just email her a PDF. Then, the next year rolled around, and I didn’t have keys to make anymore. Sure, I had some changes to make here and there, but for the most part, my uploaded completed keys saved me HOURS!