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Home » Blog » Teacher Support » Routines & Procedures » Classroom Procedures: Managing Unfinished Work, Take Home Folders & Absent Students

Classroom Procedures: Managing Unfinished Work, Take Home Folders & Absent Students

Routines & Procedures, Tips & Hacks

Written by: Katie Palmer

Have any of these three scenarios ever happened to you?

👉 One of your little learners constantly does not finish work in class. You want to hold them accountable to teach that the work does need to be done, as it is clear they are capable of finishing. How can you make sure their work is completed without it getting misplaced?

👉 Parents love seeing what is going on in their child’s school life. Besides using an app to share photos of the day, is there an easy way to tackle take home folders that is EASY to organize?

👉 Your lessons are planned. Activities are copied. You are ready for a phenomenal day, only to realize some students are absent. How can you ensure these students are still able to complete the day’s activities?

If these situations sound familiar, this is the blog post for you! In this post we will tackle how to organize all the papers and how/when to send them home.

This post will feature three main procedures teachers have to tackle: Unfinished Work, Take Home Folders and Absent Students. Click below to jump to the section you are most interested in OR read them all!

Unfinished Work

Take Home Folders

Absent Students


Managing Unfinished Work

Teachers assign work that is meaningful and will help students master content. So, what can a teacher do when a student (or two) is consistently not finishing their work? Here are some tips from our Facebook teacher crew.

Ideas when you have desks:

1. Magnet Clips

Keep magnet clips on the sides of students’ desks and clip unfinished work there! You can also write their names on the clips.

2. Dry Erase Pockets

Use see-through folders so you can see their unfinished work! These sleeves can be clipped on the sides of desks as well.

dry erase pockets to hold unfinished class work

3. File Folders

Tape file folders to the front of students’ desks. All unfinished work goes there. Also, it’s easy to walk around to grade work while the class is out of the room.

folder attached to the front of a student desk for storing unfinished work

Ideas that don’t require desks:

1. Pocket Charts

Keep file folder-sized pocket charts on the wall for holding unfinished student work. Each kid has a pocket & you can see at a glance who has work to complete. Bonus – the pocket folders keep work in a safe place out of their desk! You won’t lose track of who has not finished work and can’t remember who needs to finish before playing at recess.

2. Clipboards

Have the students put unfinished work on their clipboard and leave it in an “Unfinished Work” bin by the door. When there is a clipboard in the bin, you know there is work to be done. Bonus: the clipboard stops the work from getting crumpled!

3. Milk Crate

You can also use a milk crate with hanging folders for unfinished work.

Photo courtesy of Jasmine Bride

4. Chair Pockets

Use chair pockets and slide their unfinished work in the pocket!

chair pockets for storing school supplies and unfinished work

5. Ketchup & Pickles

Keep unfinished work in Ketchup (catch up) folders inside desks. It’s always the first thing they do when they’re finished with everything else. And you can extend this into Ketchup, Mustard, Pickles and even Mayo! Find out more in this post: Early Finisher Ideas.


Take Home Folders

Use pocket folders with one side labeled as keep at home, the other is return to school. Use page protectors to put any info that should stay in there (schedule, calendar, tests scores) and also include their agenda. Keep take home folders in book bags and ask that they come back to school every day.

1. Hanging File Box

Keep hanging file box on your desk and sort student papers as you mark them. Easy to return to students and to hand out mail for home too.

2. Friday Folders

All stuff that doesn’t need to go home right away goes home on Fridays. Parents empty it and sign the log sheet. No more going to student mailboxes on a daily basis.


Absent Students/Extra Work

1. Extra Copies

Put extra copies of everything in a basket or bin. If a student needs (or their parent requests) a new paper, it can be found in the bin. When it gets full, pull the top inch or so of papers (the most recent) off the top and then recycle the rest.

2. Absent Work Folder

When student are absent, add all work they miss into an absent folder. (Do it right as you are passing out the papers to everyone else.) They will not even need to ask what they missed, as it will already be laid out for them. Absent Work Folder covers are included as part of our Classroom Setup Pack. (An editable version is also available!) Download the folder covers below.

Download Absent Work Folders

Classroom Procedures Series

Hopefully these lining up & hallway tips up your classroom management game! If you enjoyed this post, be sure to visit the other classroom management posts in this series:

Lining Up & Hallway Procedures

Tips for Student Participation

Managing Unfinished Work & Absent Students

Organizing/Cleaning Supplies & Classroom Helpers

Management of Whole & Small Groups

Routines for Tricky Times of the Day


Hopefully these teacher loved tips & tricks help you tackle the never ending job of assigning & grading work! Remember, together we are better!

Happy teaching!

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