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35 Classroom Tips And Tricks That Real Teachers Actually Swear By

Ideas for elementary, middle, and high school classrooms.

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2. Hang up a parking lot board to take random questions, have students post feedback or suggestions, or quickly check to see if the room is really understanding something.

mathcoachscorner.com

I have a "parking lot" board in my classroom. Students with off-topic questions can write them on a Post-it for us to answer at another time. Students can ask whatever they like and stay on topic with what's going on right now.

amsmallsd

Get the pictured free printable above from Maths Coach's Corner, and H/T to Organizing Classroom Chaos for the different possible uses.

3. Make yourself a filing system to hold all the copies you need for each week.

buzzfeed.com

I made these to hold copies for the week so I don't have piles of paper everywhere! I got magazine holders from Ikea and ordered the Harry Potter scrapbook paper. Add some Mod Podge and done! —beccak4932e958c

4. Or just use some basic cardboard drawers — still organized!

amazon.com

I teach third grade. I bought a cardboard organizer with six drawers and labeled each one with the day of the week with the final drawer being things we didn't have time to do that aren't pressing. I can sort out all the copies I need for each day in advance so all I have to do is pull out the drawer for the day. Didn't finish something? Just move it to the next day.

a449f9efa5

Get this cardboard organizer on Amazon for $22.51, and the drawers on Amazon for $17.65.

5. If you want to be extra organized, make a "teacher tool kit" so you can always find anything you need.

buzzfeed.com

I found a picture of a "teacher tool kit" last summer on Pinterest and knew I had to make one for my classroom. There are many variations on TPT and this is the one I went with. It has been LIFE-CHANGING! Throughout the school day I have many teachers coming to my room (SPED, paras, EL, OT, etc.) and they all love it because they know where to find everything! It is a huge time-saver: I no longer spend five minutes looking through my drawer for a paper clip. I highly recommend making one of these! —catherinea4bee0a7e2

Learn how to make your own toolbox just like this one on Teach Create Motivate, and get these same labels on Teachers Pay Teachers for $4.50.

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6. Display great student work using scrapbook paper and clothespins attached to the bulletin board.

buzzfeed.com

I use clothespins to display student work in my classroom. This makes it so much easier to switch out work, without having to use and remove staples! —melissah56

7. Or bring in an old refrigerator door for a homey display.

buzzfeed.com

When I was teaching sixth grade math and social studies I would display kids' great work on an old refrigerator door. It was a great way to make the kids feel special, and some never had their hard work displayed at home so they loved it! Some kids would draw me pictures just so they could feel proud of something on the fridge door. —tommiep86

8. Hang inspirational quotes around the room, mounted on inexpensive scrapbook paper.

Getty Images / BuzzFeed

I teach adults with special needs. When I got hired, I had blank, white concrete walls in my building. I went on Pinterest and found beautiful pictures of positive and educational quotes that I printed and glued/laminated onto scrapbook paper (which there is a HUGE variety of and only 10 cents a sheet). I hung them all over my room and lined the hallways with them. I have my students pick their favorite, stand by it, and tell us why they like it as an ice breaker at the beginning of the year. It's a great way to decorate blank walls without having to buy expensive posters. Plus, you can customize easily.

katiem4493674a4

Get more inspirational lines from literature here, and other inspirational quotes here.

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11. Have a "Missing Tools" or "Lost Property" or other lost-and-found-style spot to drop the things that no one claims.

rachelatalldrinkofwater.com

I teach first grade. I have a "missing tool" box at the front of the the room, so anyone who finds a random crayon or toy or scissors will always place it in the missing tool box. If a child says they can't find one of their tools, I always direct them to the missing tool box. After a few weeks the kiddos know to look there first before saying something is lost.

bethk4c5b632c0

Read more about the lost property bucket on Rachel A Tall Drink Of Water.

12. Use yoga bands or physical therapy bands on the front legs of chairs for students who need to move around.

starrspangledplanner.com

I tie physical therapy bands to the front legs of desks for those kids who just need to move. Allowing the fidgeting to be done by their feet keeps their hands free to work! The bands can easily be found on Amazon and are affordable for a teacher on a budget.

a49e20251d

Get more tips for helping students with hyperactivity and attention needs on The Starr Spangled Planner.

13. Or, keep quiet toys around for kids who prefer to fidget with their hands.

amazon.com, amazon.com

I'm not a teacher, but my science teacher had a bin with quiet toys like Tangles, putty, etc. I had ADHD I her class so it was super useful for kids like me to learn and stay focused.

kelbell63

Get a set of three Tangles on Amazon for $10.43, and a set of six Silly Putty eggs on Amazon for $8.95 (just take 'em out of the Easter packaging).

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14. Make an a one-stop shop for students who need something for class that day.

buzzfeed.com

I originally found a similar idea on Pinterest and modified it to fit my needs. My student center is a place where students can go to get whatever supplies they're missing that they need in class. It keeps kids from taking supplies off my desk and helps the classroom run more efficiently. Love it! —sams420b3d0c1

15. Or, keep a box of inexpensive golf pencils around to give students who ask you for one.

amazon.com

I buy golf pencils and keep them in a cup on my desk. That way, when my ever-prepared and alert high school students forget their writing utensils, they can grab a small pencil that I'm not worried about having accidentally taken as they're quite inexpensive (and the kids tend not to want to keep those).

michelleaforeman

Get a box of 144 golf pencils on Amazon for $9.49, or a box of 72 golf pencils *with erasers* on Amazon for $12.30.

16. Have a "seatbelt sign is on" system for letting kids know when it's alright to ask to go to the bathroom.

firstgradespies.blogspot.com

I have one of those battery operated push lights. When the light is on, the class knows they're not allowed to ask to use the restroom. Unless it's an absolute emergency! When it's off, they know they can ask. I'll turn the light on during whole group instruction, that way they aren't missing out. It has helped reduce the amount of students out of the room tremendously!!!

katherinee44797b9ae

First Grade Spies uses a dollar-store push light for a different useful task — to remind the students that she's working with a small group.

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17. Help students calm down by asking them to sharpen pencils.

thekinderpolkadotpatch.com

I move classrooms for each class, so I can't have too many tricks. But I always have a bag of pencils that need to be sharpened with me.

When a student is getting too excited, agitated, or whatever reason, I will ask them to sharpen the pencils for me. It gives them something to focus on, allows them to be on their own, and can allow them to feel important.

It's been so effective for one of my students with ADHD. And for one of my students with extreme anger issues — when things get too tense between him and his classmates it's a great way for him to calm down and get to be alone.

fibrain

If you don't move from classroom to classroom, you could try something like this pencil sharpening station from The Polka Dot Patch.

18. Use a pocket organizer to collect homework folders each day, instead of big cubbies that take up too much space.

buzzfeed.com

This is my "mail" system. Kids' homework folders go in here instead of those giant cubbies that take up too much space! $30 on Amazon! —jocelynb3

Get this 30-slot wall organizer on Amazon for $29.99.

19. And give students everything they need to take home at the very end of the day, so none of the worksheets or papers get lost.

buzzfeed.com

I found that leaving worksheets or flyers on their desks meant them getting lost and me making tons of copies. I used a crate and hanging folders to create "mailboxes." I put a sign on the outside labeled "You've Got Mail!" Each student has their own "mailbox" (folder). They get called up at the end of the day to check their mail and immediately pack up. It ended the lost papers problem! —laurenr436821ecd

20. Make an "I'm done, now what?" board for students who always finish early.

hangingwithmrshulsey.com

I have something in my room called the "I'm done, now what?" board. It's a board with nine options like cleaning out your desk, math flash cards, read a book, free write in your writing journal, etc. When students are done with all their work they pull a wooden stick and complete the activity they selected. It eliminates the constant "I'm done, what do I do?" from students who always finish early.

emilynpierce

Get four free blank card designs like these for your own wall on Hanging With Mrs. Hulsey.

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21. Or, just have students pick something from the classroom library (or something they brought) to read during their downtime.

thegreekteach / instagram.com

Students were required to have a reading book in their desk for reading anytime they had finished assignment or other down time. This could be a library book, a book from class library, or an educational magazine such as National Geographic.

cvh3912

22. Take the stress out of giving out incentives by making a simple prize punch wall.

eastcoastmommyblog.blogspot.ca

I teach third through fifth, depending on the year. Creating incentives that both my students and I were happy with was always a bit difficult for me, until this. I made a punch-it wall: Once a student gets enough stickers on their incentive charts, they get to pick a covered cup, punch it in, and get a paper strip with an incentive for them. It's a win-win situation.

milkteapapi

Learn how to make your own simple punch wall on East Coast Mommy.

23. Use an over-door organizer as a convenient place to park re-useable water bottles.

buzzfeed.com

I hang an over-the-door organizer to hold my first graders water bottles. I call it the Hydration Station. It keeps the water bottles accessible for students, but keeps them off their desks — where they are prone to spilling or sweating and creating wet spots.

abricatdabri

See more photos of this tip in use at Home Storage Solutions 101.

24. Build a word wall that uses QR codes to help kids learn their sight words.

buzzfeed.com

This is my "talking word wall". I use QR codes with my kids to help them learn their sight words. They're in alphabetical order and can be used in SO many ways! I have the kids "listen to the wall", practice all of the "a" words, write a sentence using the "g" words, etc. When you scan a word, a YouTube video comes up which plays the word, uses it in a sentence, spells the word, then asks the listener to repeat that word. Amazing and so independent! —jocelynb3

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25. Use bucket seats as special seating AND extra storage.

room4imagination.blogspot.com

Bucket stools! 10-gallon buckets from the hardware store with foam and fabric stapled to the top. A fun seat for little wiggly kids and extra storage in the classroom!

claireg496f001ca

Learn how to make the seats just using E6000 glue on Room4Imagination, and how to make them with a staple gun on Leaving My Mark.

26. Assign certain students to be the go-to "experts," so other students know who to ask for help, whether you write their name on the board...

frogsandcupcakes.blogspot.com

I have a small whiteboard by my desk that says "Today's Experts." After I finish teaching a lesson, I ask students to raise their hand if they felt like they really understood the lesson and already feel like "experts." I write those students' names on the board. Then, if kids have questions and I'm busy during work time, they know who else they can ask for help. Kids who volunteer to be experts get tokens/tickets/stickers or whatever reward system you use. They learn from one another, feel empowered, and I don't have a line of kids all waiting to ask the same question.

alealibroberg

...or use an "ask me!" tag, like Tales of Frogs and Cupcakes Does...

27. ...or use colorful rubber bands as bracelets.

amazon.com

I teach third grade, which is about the time where students really start building their independent problem-solving skills. I use rubber band bracelets to identify a question master at each table that acts as a helper while I am teaching small groups. They handle questions that someone might have. It helps me by cutting down on interruptions during my small groups and also helps keep talking to a lower volume if only few are talking instead of the whole class. This helps each student learn essential social skills they need to be successful in higher grades!

amberj4ffe70a6c

Get this colorful rubber band ball for $5.48 on Amazon.

28. If you do a lot of presenting via PowerPoint, try the Unified Remote App (free on iTunes, with upgrades that cost $3.99).

unifiedremote.com

Fourth-grade English here! I always forget to borrow a clicker for my presentations, so I either use my wireless mouse or my smartphone running the Unified Remote app. Saves me the trouble of running back and forth to the computer during a discussion, plus the kids are amazed I'm using a phone in class!

johnfranciscanlasg

Read more from Unified Remote.

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29. Make a "phone prison" to confiscate phones that aren't supposed to be out during class.

buzzfeed.com

My phone prison! I teach middle school and I can't tell you how many times I've caught students taking selfies in the middle of class. That's when I tell them that their phone is under arrest and sentenced to prison until the end of the day! —audreym4e467c33f

30. Or, zip-tie dollar-store pencil bags onto desks so students put their own phones into their own phone "jails."

buzzfeed.com

"Borrowed" from another teacher. My ninth-graders called them cell phone jail. They put their phones in during all tests and quizzes and when I decided we needed to be phone-free. I liked it because I wasn't responsible for their phones (unlike with the big shoe organizers some teachers have).laurenr57

31. OR, just set out power strips in all the outlets so students can charge their phones.

Getty

Power strips with long extension cords for students' phones. Kids think I'm cool for providing charging stations for their personal electronic devices, but I'm actually tricking them into putting them down and staying off them. And if I ever have chargers that are abandoned or unclaimed, I wrap them up in colorful electrical tape and they become community property...

sergem2

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32. Establish a crate-and-poster system to help students get extra copies of specific assignments, or grab assignments for the days that they were out.

buzzfeed.com

I use a file crate with numbered folders for extra copies of assignments and handouts. When students are absent or need an extra copy, they check the poster on the wall and see what number folder they need. Then they can get an extra copy. It has saved my life! I teach middle school — seventh-grade history. —beccak4932e958c

A file folder hanger that organizes work that my students missed when they were absent! Students are responsible for checking it on their first day back. It is so easy to write their names on it and place in right into their class's folder! No having to keep up with extra copies or having to print out extras!

courtneyl4bb7c603d

33. Use an app like Remind to send updates to your students and their parents, and answer questions.

The Remind app allows me to stay in contact with parents and my high school students via individual IMs, but also keeps a log receipts of all interactions with all student and parent users, which comes in handy when it comes time for parent-teacher conferences or completing parent contact logs. My students and their parents can send me questions about homework and assignments outside of school hours. Just make sure you tell them not to contact you after a certain time!

I can also send reminders about exams, major assignments, and field trips. And make major announcements I might have forgotten to make in class. You can also create groups/classes in case you have multiple sections or teach multiple subjects. My favorite aspect of this app is that I can schedule announcements way in advance and forget about them, which is one less thing I'll have to remember. And it's completely free and easy for all to use, plus it keeps your personal info safe and confidential (like your cell number...yes students try and seek out that info).

rnuman825

Get Remind on the Apple App Store for free (with available in-app purchases) here.

34. If you can, on tough days, bring in a therapy animal.

buzzfeed.com

I teach intro to law and sometimes I have to teach my students about controversial, even uncomfortable topics. Luckily, I have a service dog that I bring to class and she loves to give my students kisses. She definitely helps get them TO class and keep them happy *during* class. —jennyr4f9257e67

35. And remember — no matter what grade you teach — YOU'RE more important than any organizing system or smart trick.

darkeyedfran / instagram.com

I'm the coolest most useful thing in my classroom.

jhoyapne

Myself. The teacher is the most important aspect of a classroom!

jakev4d86be1ab

My mind. Yep, that's best classroom tool.

daniellea474461055

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