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17 Insanely Clever Hacks For Teachers, By Teachers

Prepare to save time and money. Inspired by this thread.

Buena Vista Pictures / Via wearetwolips.com

1. “Stamps. I use them as a behavior management system. If they are working on individual or even group assignments and it’s getting too loud, I’ll quietly go around and stamp papers that belong to students who have been working quietly. Within seconds you’ll notice the class getting more quiet. The stamp doesn’t mean anything unless you want it to. I say that they won’t get full credit without the stamp. I teach high school, by the way, and they loooovvee stamps! Not sure why.”
Submitted by Dannniiiii.

2. “Learning to use cheap plastic tablecloths as bulletin board backgrounds has changed my life.”
Submitted by witzelsuchty.

3. “Assignment numbers! Every student has a number that they must write at the upper right corner of any paper they turn in. It allows me to alphabetize much more quickly. I (or a student) put the papers in numerical order, and they are alphabetized. Then when I grade, I can put them in the grade book simultaneously. If they forget to put the number it is -5 NFD (not following directions).
Submitted by srtarojaMiddle.

4. “One great way to keep students on task while you are taking attendance or doing all the little beginning of class necessities is to have a daily bell ringer.
When the bell rings the students should begin to answer or respond to a question that is on the board. The response should not take longer than five minutes and can act as a review.”
Submitted by mandymhz.

5. “ClassDojo is a wonderful tool that monitors behavior and attendance. Ever had a student out of control and needed intervention? This provides data… Need another way to do attendance? This also covers that.
Submitted by you-are-not-so-smart.

6. “If I see a kid doing something or starting to do something that causes distractions, I continue to teach as I casually approach their desk. Without acknowledging them directly or even making eye contact, I do two subtle taps on the corner or their desks. It avoids confrontation, invading their personal space, or disruption of the lesson while still acknowledging the need for correction. When I approach their desk, I take an indirect route so most students have no idea what I’ve done.”
Submitted by snakesnakesnaaake.

Buena Vista Pictures / Via geeksinhighschool.com

7. “I put up a QR code at Open House so the parents can get all of my contact info in their phones.”
Submitted by onwiththeshow.

8. “When I take attendance on my clipboard during the Do Now, I say out loud, ‘John is working, Mary is working,’ etc. It seems like I’m grading them, but really it’s just attendance. Sometimes Billy will say, ‘Miss, I’m working!’ so he’s sure to get ‘credit’. Sometimes I will sneak manage and say, ‘Julie is juuuuust getting started working’ as though I were marking her down a grade, even though all I have done is mark her present. Whenever I say something like this, Julie starts working in earnest. I have never once said anything about a Do Now grade, or explicitly said they were earning a grade, but they all assume that’s what is happening. No one has ever once asked to see their Do Now grade - or wondered why it wasn’t reflected in the online grade book.”
Submitted by chasingarabbit.

9. “I teach high school Spanish, and I take attendance with a ball. I got this from Creative Language Class’s Blog. They’re fluent in the phrases “so and so is here” or ‘so and so isn’t here.’ It sounds silly, but it’s powerful for community building, linguistic skills, and they literally take attendance for me. Also, I use a beanie baby and they learn the word for that animal as a result.”
Submitted by pretzelface.

10. “I’d use poker chips during class discussions. I put them in groups and if they ask or answer a question then they get a chip. I count them at the end of class and at the end of each quarter the group with the most chips gets extra credit. They also lose chips if their group is talking or if someone puts their head down. So, they learn to regulate their own behavior and their group’s behavior.”
Submitted by Dannniiiii.

11. “I have sheets of brain teasers that I pass out each Monday. There are logic grids, Sudoku, word games, content-related crosswords and word searches. I shrink them down so that I can fit five or six teasers on the page. I rotate the types so that the kids don’t lose interest. I have them keep them in a folder on the supply desk at their table group so that they ALWAYS have it handy. The expectation is that if they finish their work early or have down time due to an urgent situation of any type, they may either silent read or work on their activities. I go over them on Monday before I hand out the new one, so if they are itching to work on one, they may take it home for the weekend to finish. I will never teach without these again. It takes the stress off of down time completely.”
Submitted by cbassm.

12. “An additional (serious) suggestion: give MEANINGFUL assignments/assessments. Think of all the time you spend grading papers and assignments and homework and everything. Give fewer but more meaningful, important assignments. You’ll be grading less and doing less work, but what you DO will mean much more for learning.”
Submitted by dont_hate__conjugate.

13. “I have a microphone connected to my PC in the classroom. In situations where it’s difficult to regain focus, I unmute it and politely inform the class that this is Sparta.
Submitted by DeXyDeXy.

14. “English teacher hack: don’t grade papers holistically. Look at only one or two specific aspects of your classroom’s focus (parenthetical citation, topic sentence, coherence, evidence usage, analysis, etc). And don’t always assign four-page papers thinking that length equates to rigor or some sort of life-lesson, keep their papers short and direct - I use focus essays in my classes: three paragraphs focused entirely on content understanding and organization/coherence - 500 words. They help with AP classes and other writing standards.”
Submitted by BosskHoggMe.

15. “Make your students do all of your busy work: writing stuff, typing stuff, bringing things places, stapling things, folding things, organizing things, anything. They love it, too.”
Submitted by jex15español.

16. When I have a student who is disruptive, I put three small post-it notes on the white board, and each time I would have to redirect them, I would instead just remove a post-it without saying anything. Once all post-it’s are gone, there is a consequence - lost recess, note home, or whatever. They ‘reset’ every day (or whatever works for the kid). Only that kid and I know what the post-it notes are for. This is a quiet, non disruptive way to correct disruptive behavior - you don’t have to stop teaching or even move far - and sometimes removing that post-it can be cathartic.
Submitted by mstob.

17. “Ever notice during third period that a desk seems dirty or has a little graffiti on it? Tell the student who sits there fourth period that the student in the last class had a cold and was sneezing a lot. ‘If you want to, you can help yourself to the cleaner and wipe it down so you don’t get sick.’ They are always super appreciative as they clean the desk.”
Submitted by chasingarabbit.

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