Get organised with these 6 clever classroom hacks
When you’ve been teaching as long as I have, you develop an armoury of classroom hacks that make the job just a little bit easier. Here are some of my favourites:
1. Revision resources display
If you teach exam classes, then hopefully over the next 5 months your pupils will be doing independent revision to prepare. Keep reminding them to bring their revision resources to you after their exams (if they don’t need them anymore). It’s easy to then produce a display which shows the next year group what activities and strategies they can use to revise, and also model your expectations of effective revision.
2. Don’t bin extras, file them for later
If a pupil is absent from a lesson and wants to catch up missed work, or has lost their homework sheet and comes to ask for a new one, I’m pleased, I really am. Except when I can’t find the spare copies, or I’ve binned them, and I end up wasting time printing off more. So instead I use this simple accordion file. When I have extra copies of worksheets at the end of the lesson, I put them in the file. That way when a pupil arrives at the start of break and I’m heading out of the door, it’s easy for me to grab the correct sheet and hand it over.
3. Stationery Station
My next hack relates to classroom equipment. You’re trying to start the lesson, and a couple of pupils have lost their pen. Rather than pupils crowding round my desk to get one, I’ve set up this Stationery Station (thank you to Year 9 for the name). Pupils get the equipment they need when they come in and return it at the end, without bothering me. It’s actually designed to hang over a bedroom door and store shoes, but this is a pretty good use for it.
4. Keep piles of paper under control
This is such an obvious classroom hack, I’m embarrassed I didn’t do it sooner. Rather than having piles of photocopied resources on my desk or on a table at the front, before I go home each night, I slot the appropriate resources in the box for each lesson, which are conveniently placed at the front of my room. At the start of the lesson I collect them ready to use. No more hunting under piles of paper, wondering where I’d tidied them!
5. Marking and feedback book
My marking and feedback record book has literally revolutionised my marking, and was very much inspired by Greg Thornton @MrThorntonTeach and the work he has previously shared on Twitter. When marking a set of books or assessments, rather than writing the same comments repeatedly, I produce a sheet like this one. Instead I write the code, for example WWW (what went well) 1, 4, 6 and EBI (Even better if) 4, 5. Pupils then respond by completing the EBI activities. And obviously I can add additional comments for a pupil in their book when appropriate.
Once I had trialled this for several months and decided on a format I liked, which incidentally changes every year, I had multiple copies of the sheet bound into a book. This means all the sheets are in one place, and I can look back on previous targets and misconceptions I have set the group.
I then added in a calendar for each term. I record the date when I mark each set of books. This makes it easy to track which books are due (or overdue) marking and makes it less likely that I get caught out by a set that I had forgotten.
6. Incorporate rewards into tough tasks
And finally, my last hack is to make things easier by making me feel better about the demands of the job. Feeling weighed down with marking? Then divide your pile into 5’s so you feel you’re making progress. Obviously you should have a treat at the end of each 5 as motivation.
And if you’ve got too much writing to do, then you might as well do it with nice stationery.
I hope you’ve found one or two helpful classroom hacks here, and if you have any others that make your life in the classroom easier, I’d love to hear them.