Teaching is tough but so are you. Teacher hacks can be life and time savers so the teachers from the Lucky 1st Grade and Lucky 2nd Grade Teachers Facebook Groups came up with a list of 25 teacher hacks that you must be aware of because they are going to make your life so much easier! Enjoy!
1. Velcro Markers
Velcro your Expo markers to the top of the board so the kids can’t reach them and the tips point down to keep them fresh. This will also keep the markers off the ledge so you can use the ledge for other things such as books, baskets of cards, pointer fingers, etc.
2. Visual Directions
On Teachers Pay Teachers find labels for daily materials that are needed (glue stick, pencil, markers, etc) It is helpful to print the labels, laminate them and then add a magnet to the back. During transition times, the needed materials for the next lesson are put up in a place where everyone can see. ( this can became a job for students after Xmas break). This helps to eliminate the “What do we need out?” question. It is a huge help for visual learners. -Jamie
3. Always Make Extras
When doing back to school prep, make extra sets of the Back To School folder that can be given out when families come in. Always make 5 or more extra. Inside the folder are the forms, guidelines and contact info that families will need to refer to throughout the year. If new students register throughout the year, the forms will already be prepared to grab. – Amanda
4. Use a Marking Ribbon to Save Paper
Tape a piece of ribbon on the back of writing journals/notebooks. Students use this as a book mark to keep from flipping through the journal to any old page. After a page is used, the student places the ribbon behind it. Then they are ready to go the next time they are using their journal. This should be modeled a few times at the beginning of the year. Students often will even start helping each other with this. – Debbie
5. Very Important Papers Folder
Laminate manila envelopes at the beginning of the year for each student and mark them with a label that says “V.I.P – Very Important Papers”. An exacto knife can be used to cut the opening of the folder after laminating. Include all forms that need to be completed with a checklist for parents. Then use this through the year for progress reports, I.E.P docs, report cards, etc. – Lynda
6. Absent Student Folder
Create a laminated manila folder to be used to help an absent student. When kids are gone, have it be a job to have another student fill out their absent form and collect all the pages and notes sent home that day. Then the folder gets placed in the absent student’s cubby. The student can get assignments out of this folder the next day if they have time or take it home to complete and bring back. – Tori
7. Multiple Trash Baskets
Use little baskets on the groups of desks for trash. This saves 20 kids from having to keep getting up to throw trash away while cutting stuff out. – Jamie
8. Show What You Know Board
Use a“Show What You Know”/“Exit”Board. To make this activity be quick & easy, kids grab a speech bubble with a magnet hot glued to the back and a dry erase marker with a pom pom hot glued to the top(for erasing) to quickly show what they learned from a lesson!
9. Challenge Pencils
Give out a “theme pencil” on the first school day of the month. This pencil has a tape flag on the metal part with a coordinating student number. Randomly throughout the month have students leave their pencils on their name tags at the end of the day for a challenge pencil check. Give out stickers, coupons, etc. to those students who still have it. On the last school day of the month collect the old pencils and give out a new. If a student still has the “challenge” pencil, that student can redeem some sort of reward. Throw away the old. This really cuts down on pencil loss and using the sharpener. It is also easy to return the pencils left at reading tables or stations to the owner. Throwing away the pencils also cuts down on passing germs. – Deena
10. Assign Jobs to Table Groups
For how many table groups you have, draw shapes on their desks and then use these shapes to assign and designate different jobs. Circles-collect papers, squares-line up, triangles-gather supplies, etc. – Karen
11. Save Caps
Save all glue stick caps and dry erase marker caps so when they are inevitably misplaced just tell the students to grab another from the “cap container” and move on without a big production of looking for a lost cap. Keeping a cap container makes our day go smoother and supplies last longer. – Laurel
12. The Sand Timer
When working with a small group, give a two minute sand timer to a student not in my small group. The person with the timer watches the independent workers for the one that was “most on-task” and gives the timer to that person. Spend time practicing this first, and discuss that you don’t give it to your friends, etc. Once it’s set up and in place small group time will be much more productive. Everybody wants the power that comes with being the sand timer holder!
13. Not Done Bag
Velcro a large Ziploc bag to the side of every desk which serves as a “not done bag”. Any unfinished work gets placed in this baggie to help from it getting lost in a desk or cubby. Also, this serves as a visual for anyone who has something to finish. Plus the Velcro allows the kids to pull their bags off if they ever needed to bring their work somewhere else to finish – Kari
14. Hot Glue on the Wall….Say What?!
Put blue painters tape on desks before using Velcro dots on name tags. Put the blue tape on the wall before hot gluing anything to the wall! So easy to remove!!’ – Julie
15. Question Light
Use a a tap light that turns on when you tap it, and draw a question mark on it. When the light is on the kids can ask questions. When it’s off they can’t interrupt! Unless it’s an emergency of course!! – Caitlin
16. Highlight Your Name!
Before kids can turn exit tickets in, have them grab a highlighter from a bucket right by the folders and highlight their name. This will help eliminate no-name papers! – Christine
17. Days of the Week Groups
Designate groups by naming them after the days of the week. So on Tuesday the Tuesday table goes first for the bathroom, line up, etc. They also help pass things out or pick things up if needed. – Becky
17. Dry Erase Clipboards
Buy dry erase clipboards and magnetic erasers and hang them on the side of each desk with a command hook! – Monica
18. Eyes in the Back of Your Head
Use a cheap $5 Wal-Mart full length mirror to attach at an angle above the white board. Operates like a rear view mirror in a car. The angle will give full vision of the classroom full of children behind you! Freaks them out the first time you ask someone to ‘please return to your seat Jimmy’ or ‘no Anne you may bother your neighbor’
This is done by using a couple of command hooks on the wall with string tied to the hooks connected to very large binder clips that is simply clipped to the mirror. The bottom edge of the mirror is simply resting on the top edge of the white board. This is going into year 3 that it’s held up fabulously! – Lannette
19. Post Anchor Charts to Seesaw and Google Classroom
Take pictures of all anchor charts made throughout the year and post them to Seesaw and Google Classroom so the students can discuss and use them at home too. Sometimes, I even have them take a pic themselves and record their explanation of it on Seesaw!! Great for reinforcement. – Tiffany
For more time-saving digital learning resources read THIS blog post.
20. Bulletin Board Storage
Use hangers and binder clips to store your bulletin board borders. This is a great way to see exactly what you have and requires quick and easy storage. -Abby
21. Black Eraser Gloves
Use cheap black gloves as dry erase markers when cleaning mini-dry erase boards. Children slip them on to clean off boards during center time or whole class instruction. The Expo markers fit inside for storage for later use in the bin. – Tracey
22. Write in Books!
Take plastic page protectors and cut the folded edge off. Then slide it over a page in a textbook and students can practice highlighting and circling important information without having to make more copies. – Amy
23. Line Order
Line Order!!!! This can be changed up with each quarter or month. Each child is a random # in line. Whenever it is time to get in line for ANYTHING (other than drills) they MUST be in Line Order! This saves so much nonsense… “He cut me… Running to front/back of line….etc.” The Specials Teachers THANK me for this!! It seems so simple but it’s honestly amazing for so many reasons – Katie
24. Have a Book Hospital
Label a basket “book hospital” so that when a book needs fixing (loose page) the kids know to place it in there and the teacher can fix it later or it is a job for a parent helper. – Sheila
25. Use a “Clean Up!” or “Listen Up!” Doorbell
Use a wireless doorbell chime that can be plugged in. When it is time for students to clean up, just click on the remote. This signals it is tie to clean up. There are about 35 different rings. ….including holiday rings! – Jill
I have used some of these with success. Here is one more that helps with, “I’m done!”:
During testing or copying off the board, children hold up their pencil, eraser side up to indicate that they are ready to move on. When testing they hold the lesd side up if they need a change of pencil. At other times they just switch it out themselves.
Fantastic, fresh ideas! Feeling motivated for term 4!
Some really great ideas. I especially like the velcro markers on the board. Thanks
Wow! These are great ideas! I can’t wait to try some of these to cut down on some of the nonsense that is going on in my classroom this year! Thanks!
I was just thinking the mirror idea would work fab at the back of the class to check learners where on task and not watching videos when they are supposed to be researching tasks .
I was thinking the SAME thing!! Back of the room for sure!
The doorbell is the best investment! It’s so worth it. It makes the kids stop and freeze.
Splendid new ideas . Love the ‘rear-view mirror ‘ effect
I use child’s black socks for dry erasers. The kids put their markers in them when not in use so they are easy to find.
I have each child to bring an odd sock. They write their name on it with permanent marker. They use it. No cost to me!
I like that idea!
I have parents donate old baby bibs and I cut off the ties/strings for dry erase marker erasers. They store flat and the kids get a kick out of the cute designs that come in. When they get too dirty or gross, I just throw them out rather than trying to wash them, and ask for more!
Save Caps! Why didn’t that ever occur to me?!!!
Such wonderful, helpful and time saving ideas! Thanks so much for sharing!
Lots of really good ideas. I retired several years ago and I could have used your mirror trick.
great and useful ideas thank you
So many great ideas!
I really like the Challenge pencil Will be trying this at the beginning of third quarter.
Yes, me too! I will use this great idea at progress report and end of 9 wks
as my time periods for my 6th grade math students!
OMG. Thank you so much for these!
I saw the mirror above the board and the light bulb came on. Even in high school kids will always try to get away with something. How surprised they were when they came into class. It’s really been a terrific help.
How did you hang the mirror? Mine does not have anything on the back.
Extra large binder clips. Clip to mirror corners and run cord through the black part (small space where the silver part fits in).
I love these tips
These are great ideas . I love the doorbell the “Not Finished” bag. Thanks for the wonderful list.
I’m so honored you included my idea about saving caps! It’s a game-changer.
Save money by using socks with missing pairs or holes (yep, I have fur babies at home that can do some serious damage to a sock in seconds!) for dry erasers.
I use the door bell at my door also since we keep the doors closed and they lock. When a student leaves and comes back they ring the door bell. I usually can’t hear them knock so this keeps them from standing in the hall to long. Then the door helper lets them in.
I really like the game changer idea. Very useful and not expensive.
Love so many of these ideas! Especially the save caps!! Genius!
I have a bell I ring when its time to clean up.
I have parents bring in pict.of their child. then I take 1 child at a time and they are my “terrific kid” for that week. (take papers up, get box of Kleenex. pack of wipes etc.)they think they are special
I teach title and when students come to my room, the kids were making a fuss over the color of the marker so I now keep the marker inside the black sock I use for the eraser (my husband has plenty) so they don’t argue over the color since it is a random choice.
I buy a few pieces of felt in fun patterns and cut them into squares. Students use them as dry erasers. They fit easily in their pencil pouch and it’s super cheap!
love your ideas.