Those little tidbits that make teaching easier...

Discussion in 'General Education Archives' started by Aliceacc, May 10, 2007.

  1. Aliceacc

    Aliceacc Multitudinous

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    May 10, 2007

    Now, as we near the end of the year, what are those little tricks you've picked up (and probably don't even notice anymore) that make your life easier?

    - I have a document called "heading" on my computer. I use the same heading for each test:
    name___ math 7, mrs. A
    date____ period___ row #___

    Having the row number there makes passing them back a breeze, particularly in the fall when I don't know the kids yet. Each time I type up a test, I just save it under a different name.

    -Keep a neutral sweater or blazer in school. You WILL need it one day when the weather forecasters aren't quite accurate or when you're starting to come down sick.
     
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  3. Grammy Teacher

    Grammy Teacher Virtuoso

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    Hanging file folders for each day of the week and keeping my daily planner in plain site. Preparing each folder ahead so on Monday mornings I'm ready to go and don't have to go looking for supplies, etc.
     
  4. Aliceacc

    Aliceacc Multitudinous

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    I use the same idea, but it's for each separate period. And each is color coded.
     
  5. Emma35

    Emma35 Connoisseur

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    I collect my tests in ABC order so that when they are graded it only takes a minute or 2 to enter them in the grade book.
     
  6. pwhatley

    pwhatley Maven

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    I will be very interested in reading the replies to this one. Thanks, Alice
     
  7. Aliceacc

    Aliceacc Multitudinous

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    I record failing grades in red in my grade book. (and, no, no one sees it but me.) A child who fails at the end of a marking period but whose grades aren't mostly red will cause me to go back and check my math.
     
  8. bonneb

    bonneb Fanatic

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    May 10, 2007

    I assign each student a number according to alphabetical order. This number is on everything - coat hook, lunch count, the place we line up, desk, mailbox, and all papers. It makes life so much easier! They always line up in number order, so no fighting over who was where first. Their papers are a breeze to pass back - they go in the mailboxes. And at a glance, I know who hasn't turned in their work.

    I can make lists of all kinds of comments - for parent/teacher conferences, a list of grades, a list of comments on their reading - all with just a number reference. Then if anyone comes across it, they don't know who the comments are about!

    This is not my own idea - but thankfully I got this idea right at the beginning of my first year!
     
  9. La Profesora

    La Profesora Cohort

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    Along with a sweater, I also keep a pair of flip flops for the days my pretty shoes just aren't working :)

    I keep the general things that the kids need to "go for" like contact solution, lotion, band-aides, little snacks, mints, "women's supplies," and a mirror to prevent time out of the room.

    I took a pretty vase and 6 pens and 6 pencils, and turned them into a beautiful flower bouquet by floral taping the pretty daisies to the pens. Any student who doesn't have a pencil doesn't even have to bother me, they can just go get a flower. They never leave the room with them, they are pretty, and that eliminates problems with kids asking for pencils! and I always have flowers!

    I keep a blank copy and a answer key for every assignment I do, in order, in a three ring binder. I try to keep them by objective so when some kid says, "I don't understand cells," I can go back to that topic and easily make them a copy, and I have the answers to the worksheet.

    I got a lot better at naming my files in my computer and grade book. "Worksheet 7" just isn't very descriptive!!! I can also easily search on my computer for files when I know more of the words are in the file name! I use descriptions like "classroom" "discipline" "cells" "DNA" "notes" "worksheet" etc so that I can find stuff later!

    I keep a online grade book so I don't have to drag stuff home and I can access it from anywhere (also in case of a fire! We recently had a tornado that destroyed an entire elementary school, but the teachers kept online grade books so it made transitions a little less painful)

    I have each kid bring me a plastic shoe box at the beginning of the year. I keep all like supplies in a separate shoe box, labeled, on the book shelves. I LOVE to keep stuff in order!!!

    Good Luck!!!
     
  10. MrsC

    MrsC Multitudinous

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    May 10, 2007

    - In my gradebook, I highlight the mark when the test or assignment is returned with a parent signature.
    - This year, I bought a big spiral bound jounal the a pretty leather cover. It goes with me everywhere and it is where I write down everything--workshop and meeting notes, To Do Lists, phone numbers, records of meetings and phone calls, book recommendations, etc. I never have to wonder, "Where did I write that down?"
    - In addition to the sweater I keep in my closet, I also have an umbrella, a warm hat and gloves, and extra shoes.
    - In my desk drawer, I have bandaids, a tube of Blistex, small sample size deodorant sticks, "women's needs", hand cream and sunblock.
     
  11. DarkLikePoe

    DarkLikePoe Rookie

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    - I have a bin where extra worksheets go that is organized by class subject and date. When students are absent, they just hit the bin and pick up their makeup work.

    - I write weekly lesson plans in triplicate.

    1. What I plan to do each day.
    2. What I actually did each day.
    3. What I will do the next time I teach it.

    So, yeah, most of next year is already planned. :)

    - Also, I have IN and OUT boxes for non-test assignments for each class. Students don't randomly hand me stuff anymore, and when the OUT box has stuff in it, one of two designated students per period will automatically hand it out when I give the class time to work quietly on their homework or classwork. I can also tell when a student has submitted late work because at the end of the day, I just pull out all the stuff in the IN boxes and HIDE IT. Nothing magically appears on my desk because students know I already know. :)

    - And my big win this year was the adoption of Easy Grade Pro, which is an all-inclusive program that allows me to keep track of everything from attendance and grades to missing assignments and seating charts. I can also store contact information for each student (a headache when you first input a class, but worth it) and keep notes on parent contacts. I love that thing.

    - Oh, and for fun while I was mandating that no late work be accepted (just for one class of perennially late turners-in), I put a sign on a huge industrial garbage can in the corner of the room that said "Late Work." They figured it out.
     
  12. MrsC

    MrsC Multitudinous

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    Love it!!!:wow:
     
  13. Aliceacc

    Aliceacc Multitudinous

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    May 10, 2007

    I am SO stealing that one!!!!
     
  14. WatchTheWeather

    WatchTheWeather New Member

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    This is just a test...

    This is just a test...

    :p
     
  15. Pixiewannabe

    Pixiewannabe Comrade

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    May 10, 2007

    Wonderful ideas! Thanks.
     
  16. MsWK

    MsWK Habitué

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    May 11, 2007

    My first years were all about survival, and I was with different-aged children each year. This is my second year doing the same job, so I'm getting my routines in place. My first year, I lived with the old director's filing system, just because I didn't have a better system. Now that I've lived with it for two years, I've got things organized how they make sense to me. Some of the stuff that I've never touched, and I'm not sure if I'll ever need it, I've put into files labeled "Health--Prior to 2005" or "Licensing--Prior to 2005." They can go way in the back, and I'll have a place to look if I need to, but the stuff isn't staring at me every day, asking "do you need me?"

    I've also started to keep files for those things that I KNOW will come around again--like the articles I've handed out fifty times about toddler behavior, etc. I've made tons of extra copies so I always have one to pull out when I need it.

    Each teacher in the building has to keep emergency information about every child in the program, and they're always losing one or two sheets of paper--so I've started to scan the files instead of making copies. That way, I always have one on the computer that the teachers can print off themselves if they need to.

    And, I'm already working on my beginning-of-the-year files for new children. I want my vacation to be an actual vacation!
     
  17. pwhatley

    pwhatley Maven

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    MsWk:
    You may want to back up those emergency information files onto a CD and store it elsewhere. You'd have to do it regularly (once per quarter?), the frequency depending on how much turnover you have with the kids. That way, if/when your computer crashes, you don't lose everything.
     
  18. Upsadaisy

    Upsadaisy Moderator

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    After years of talking too much at the kids, I've learned how to let go and require that the kids do more thinking than I do. (An exaggeration, but you know what I mean. I think.) I also let the kids know that I expect their full attention when I am teaching and I'm not going to repeat things over and over because they weren't ready to listen when I was instructing.
     
  19. Brendan

    Brendan Fanatic

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    Some tips I learned:

    -Make an answer sheet at the beginning of the year for your tests and longer quizzes and have the kids write their answers on those instead of the copies of the tests; save a template of one and modify it for each test. They are easier to grade and less of a hassel to take home with you.

    -I bought a small locked file cabinet to keep my copies for the week in. They are seperated by file folders inside. My versions of tests from previous years really don't help the kids because I always make new ones and I use the old ones as a source of review. After tests being stolen this year I decided to do this.

    -I switched from folders to binders with sheet protectors this year. It's soo much easier for me. I now have a binder 1.5 inch for each unit. In it I have all my ideas, activities, worksheets, and answer keys for that unit.

    -I got two laminated colored-coded files for each period; one for papers to be returned and one for papers to be corrected.

    -I bought one of those pens with 4 different colors on it makes for very easy grading and writing.
     
  20. ABall

    ABall Fanatic

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    May 11, 2007

    My only advice is:

    Don't buy a pencil sharpener at K-Mart, I had a manual one and an electric one and both were duds.
     
  21. loves2teach

    loves2teach Enthusiast

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    May 11, 2007

    The xxl ziplock bags are awesome for organizing bulletin board items. They even have holes already in them for rings to hang on a chart holder.

    I have a huge box with mailbox looking holes cut into it (just recently had it made in wood) where each day the kids put their homework into the slots (ex: math, sci, etc). I originally bought it from calloway house because kids would claim I would "loose" their hw or kids would steal it. Now you have to open it from the back to get anything out.

    Funny side note, when the guy came to get the specs to build it, he asked how many slots I wanted. I said, well 6 (because my old one had 6) he told me that if I wanted he could add more spaces. So I told him, ok one more for drops papers (my kids do drop in the bucket every week). Then I asked my kids if they would suggest any more slots- They said one for writing, and another for make up work. :wow: I hate make up work because it is always everywhere (even though I have a basket for it). I was so proud!:D
     
  22. Miss W

    Miss W Phenom

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    I do a lot of those mentioned.

    Tips:
    Don't be afraid to change:
    *Your classroom arrangement-I just changed mine for the 8th time this year. We're in a new building, and I'm still looking for what works in my room. Make the room work for you.
    *Your lesson-Even in the middle of teaching it. Sometimes things don't work, or the kids just don't get it. Change your strategy to meet your kids needs.
     
  23. Miss W

    Miss W Phenom

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    Take pictures of things that you do. I have mine saved on the computer, so I can pull up to remember. I also take pictures of others ideas.
     
  24. 6thgradeteacher

    6thgradeteacher Rookie

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    When making my copies, I always copy 3-4 extras. After passing something out, I throw the extras into our Extra Papers tray. The kids know if they ever need an extra copy of something due to a lost paper, being absent, the desk monster eating it, wanting extra credit, extra practice, etc...they can look in here first before asking me for another.

    I also keep an extra handout of everything we do for the week in a file folder labeled, Week 1, Week 2, Week 3, etc...Then the following year, I can pull that folder and see exactly what I did that time last year AND I already have masters for copying if I need them.
     
  25. clarnet73

    clarnet73 Moderator

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    May 11, 2007

    This works really well if you're a theme-based program, but could be adapted for whatever you use.

    My co-teacher is UBER organized, which is good because i'm NOT. She got a BIG 3-ring binder and plastic pocket dividers. She labeled each divider with the theme. In the pocket goes all the idea printouts, master copies, etc. for that week, along with the lesson plans. It's helpful for advance planning (do we already have ___ activity prepped?) and looking back for what we've done. We're on the 3rd binder for the year. ;)

    We used to keep the extra cutouts in that pocket, too, but then it got too full... so we have a BIG plastic tub on top of the cabinets, and each set ouf cutouts (art project extras, patterning or sorting activities, whatever) go in a labelled baggie in the bin.
     
  26. AMK

    AMK Aficionado

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    I do my lessons on the computer, which works for me b/c I can see what I do each year and I can remember my ideas. When I see a good idea I photocopy it and place it in the file folder for that one.

    I have 5 trays one for each day. I always make sure the work for the next day or next week is in b/c you never know when there will be an emergency and you will be out.

    I make sure my photocopy for my lessons are done the week before...never know when the copier will break (it is always breaking in the beginning of the year).

    I need more bins and such to keep all the paper organized. I have a good filing system but a lot of lose papers.
     
  27. love2teach

    love2teach Enthusiast

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    I *try* (and have been lacking the last few weeks.....opps!) To have copies made on friday for the following week & have plans done before going home friday afternoon...it lets you enjoy the weeknd!

    I also have a folder for each day of the week...with papers, e mail print outs for the day etc....

    I must have my big desk calender...its covered a lot w my plan book etc..but I am able to see the month all laied out. I have room to write the million and one things that are going on during the week. It is a great thing!

    Also, I dont leave school without having the next days date written on the board, the Do Now and my morning message up....good things to have done just incase you are running late in the morning!
     
  28. MsWK

    MsWK Habitué

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    Thanks. If I had them stored on my personal computer, I would.

    The electronic files are stored in the network, not on a personal computer. I can access them from any of hundreds of networked computers... so no worries there. Also, the originals are in the children's files & extra copies are in my emergency folder. I think I've got my bases covered!
     
  29. Upsadaisy

    Upsadaisy Moderator

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    I have notebooks filled with math and language arts games and puzzles. It is a big help when someone finishes a test early or we have a few extra minutes (miraculously).
     
  30. Miss W

    Miss W Phenom

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    This saved me at the beginning of this year, since we had 2 days to move into our building before school started.
    I made a beginning of the year box that I kept at home (since we moved). It had everything I would need to put up at the beginning of the year (including my calendar, behavior chart, number line, ABC line, any pocket charts, books I planned to read, books to set out for kids, copies for the 1st two weeks, etc...). I was able to get a few things ready (individual behavior chart, beginning of the year letters, and other stuff) at home, since I didn't have a classroom to work in over the summer. It really saved my sanity. I'm doing it again this year, but will be able to keep it in my classroom closet. If you can't get into your room over the summer, or if your moving rooms, take your box home. I lost 4 boxes in our move (the district was moving them for us since we were going to the new school), so I was very glad I took this box home.
     
  31. Brendan

    Brendan Fanatic

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    May 18, 2007

    Alice, I just noticed we use the same exact heading, how wierd! I guess good minds think alike.
     
  32. Research_Parent

    Research_Parent Cohort

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    A day planner for all my appointments, reminders, lesson topics, etc. I slip my "notes"/lesson for the day into this book.

    A binder with all my masters (past/present/future) and "handouts" with a zip pouch for my 3 white board markers, 5 pencils, and 2 blue pens. If I'm not teaching the course, old binders get put on my bookshelf.

    An answer sheet for multiple-choice quizzes and short answer quizzes

    Magazine containers and Old cereal boxes ($$$) for "research" articles...themed by topic for my own research articles

    A wheeled box/luggage tote to take all the papers I need to bring from my office to the classroom(s). Specifically, for EXAM days.

    2 inch expandable colored file folders for EVERYTHING. Nothing I have files into a slim folder.

    A FLASH drive to save everything as back-up I am currently working on for the semester, PPTs, lessons, notes, research, articles, etc. And, an external hard-drive to back-up everything I used for the semester (in its appropriately named folder, of course).

    Copy Paper boxes to file all those student exams, answer sheets, and papers, students never collect during the semester. That way I can stack them in a corner of the office or move them to off-site storage. (We have to keep everything a student does for 8 years.) And, they fit on my wheeled tote.
     
  33. patti2

    patti2 Cohort

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    May 18, 2007

    Love this thread!

    -recycle bin next to my desk

    -red "absent" folders that neighbor puts on the child's desk who is gone and puts everything passed out into it...great when a parent comes to pick up work or for sending home with someone else.

    -"student station"-file trays stocked with different writing paper, Venn diagrams, story webs, etc that we use all of the time...students help themselves. I copied each one on bright red paper and I put them near the bottom. That way when we get to the red sheet we know we need to make more copies.

    -in plan book I make a little red x next to things that I will need to prep that will take a little time and a larger x for things that may take awhile
     
  34. Aliceacc

    Aliceacc Multitudinous

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    I would love to take credit, but ours is a school heading. (Wtih "JMJ" at the top to symbolize "Jesus, Mary and Joseph." Our kids put that on top of every paper they hand in.)

    But I did add in the "row" part; it makes handing back papers so much easier before I get to know the kids (or after I've changed some seats:rolleyes: )
     
  35. Miss W

    Miss W Phenom

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    May 19, 2007

    ALWAYS keep a hard copy of your gradebook and attendance, even if it's just printing it off the computer each week. With everyone beginning to use computerized grade/attendance books, the companies will tell you it's okay not to keep a hard copy. As a person who is in charge of our schools' system, I would suggest to keep it anyway. Sometimes things happen. That's just life, but having a back-up will make it easier.
     
  36. NCP

    NCP Comrade

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    May 19, 2007

    I will attest to saving lesson plans on the computer. This past Tuesday I walked into my room where I found the big hallway trash can on my desk. My computer had been moved onto another desk that was pulled over by it and all of my stuff was stacked onto yet another desk. Everything was pulled out of my "teaching corner" and in the middle of my group area. Then I realized that the ceiling tile directly above my desk was sopping wet, of course, that is, what was left of it. The rest of it fell down the night before right onto my desk. We had had some pretty heavy rains the night before and the roof leaked above my desk. The water all came crashing down on my desk. So, my teammate took my kids for 2 hours while I cleaned things up as best as I could. The night custodian found the tile crashed onto my desk and cleaned that part up and moved everything, but everything was soaked and ruined. My plan book, some teacher manuels, lots of notepads, composition books, notebooks, my computer, and most everything else on my desk was all in the waterfall. Everything else in the area also had to be mopped up b/c it splashed down on the desk. What a nightmare! Luckily in December my district switched over to a server system and so all of my documents were fine.

    Some other tips: not letting the filing stack up. I try to file on Thursday's plan time, which also allows me time to pull anything that needs copying.
    keeping my big units in binders. This allows me to only need a 2 drawer filing cabinet.
     

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