One of the things that drives me crazy is when things run inefficiently. So I always try to find more ways to be more efficient in my classroom.

As a busy mom of three, a teacher and business owner time saving efficient hacks are my most needed thing these days.

So there are things that I do in my classroom that help me to be more efficient in the classroom and perhaps these tips can give you some ideas of how to streamline your own to do list and ultimately save you time.

Use Timers

On my iPhone I have the ability to set timers.  Not just an alarm to wake me up in the morning but they are also great signals for transitions and reminders.

I use alarms for both of these reasons.

First I use alarms and set the sound tiles associated with these alarms to songs from within my music app.  The first alarm that I have reminds me to take my attendance.  When left to my own devices I will often forget to do my attendance on time.  So with an alarm set, it reminds me that things need to be done.   I also make sure that my students know what that means so that they can help to remind me to.  Or at least they know that I have something that needs to be done at the moment.

Paper Management

I hate paper…I know that I have said that before.

So one of the things that I have done is have one place to put all the papers.

I always copy extra pages…just in case someone needs an extra (someone always needs and extra)

Well, I never knew where to put these and they would be stored everywhere.  So my solution was to just have one place to drop them off.  One place they get put and one place to look for lost or missing papers.

I call this bin the EXTRA PAPERS BIN.

This is a paper recycling bin that holds a very large amount of paper flat.

Any time someone needs an extra paper they will look in one place.  This saves me time from searching for those extra papers I copied and also helps me to save time by not having to constantly clean up and organize my classroom.

Classroom Helpers

Kids like helping and sometimes they are good at it.

So give them jobs that actually help you and take things off your plate.

Think of tasks you do every day that could be easily be done by someone else.

In my classroom, this is my attendance, agenda checker, date, calendar, agenda board, librarian, and chair stacker.

Master Slides

If you ever have the need to make a worksheet or printable page then there are many things that can help you to save some time.

The first tip is don’t do it on Word or Docs!

These programs are great as word processors but are less than great for the layout options that are often needed to make a worksheet needed for kids.  There is so much time wasted on layout and formatting.

So instead I highly recommend that you use Powerpoint, Keynote, or Slides.

Now if you want to take it one step further that will mean making master slides.  Make common backgrounds that you can use over and over.  Create a worksheet template that all you need to do is add the text for that specific page and you don’t need to worry about creating a new document from a blank page.

You can create standard pages like a

  • math problem-solving page
  • graphic organizer templates
  • writing or short answer pages

Hand In Bins

Way back when I started with two hand-in bins.  First and in-bin and then an out-bin.

However junior students hand-in a lot of stuff and one hand-in bin was a mess… (too much paper ahhhh) So, I needed to find a system that would help me to be more efficient.

So this year to help me out I bought a Trofast bin from IKEA (well actually I got it used off of Facebook marketplace for a steal)

With labels, there is a bin for every subject I teach and then some extra bins too.

Now students hand in their work to the subject bin and I can collect it from there.  With students working at a variety of speeds, not everything gets handed in at the same time on the same day.  These different hand in bins help me to keep all of that organized.

Go Digital

No I don’t just mean use more tech in the classroom.

For this tip I use Google Classroom to be more efficient.  Google Classroom saves me more time than any other tool.

Having the ability to mark on the go and do so quickly is a huge time saver.  Saving time always means that I can be more efficient.  That also means that I find it less overwhelming which helps me actually get my marking done.

Beyond that Google Classroom has a new rubric tool (well at least new to me) that allows me to set the criteria for each assignment and use this to quickly mark student work by picking levels quickly and easily.

Added to this is the time saved after by making copies, updating mark books, and tracking all of the things on paper that digital tools can do automatically.

Want to get more details on these tips check out EP125 on my podcast “Teaching With Inquiry”