"I've put together a binder that stays on my desk with information that I need daily and substitute information. The binder has a cover identifying the contents, which are attendance, lesson plans, seating charts and a special section for substitutes that includes a letter from me, the building layout, my daily schedule, and our classroom rules. Each section is tabbed and kept up-to-date with attendance reports, weekly lesson plans and seating changes.
The reference pages are in plastic sheet covers to keep everything neat. My desk binder helps me to keep information systematic as well as handle my absence from the classroom with the greatest amount of support already in place."
Submitted by: Ann Rayner , an eighth grade reading and writing teacher at Perry Middle School in Perry, Ohio. This tip was published in the NEA's Weekly Tip Newsletter.
Share your extra or unneeded copies with fellow teachers!
"My students sit on the floor for group activities. In the past, I've used mats or carpet squares to designate where they should sit. They are a chore to move and the children continually shift about on them. In searching for a solution, I took colored, hook side Velcro, cut it into four-inch strips and wrote each child's name on one. The strips cling to the carpeted floor and can even be vacuumed over. Now the children no longer move about."
Submitted by: Janis Highley [email protected] , a first and second grade teacher from Battle Ground, Washington. This tip was published in the NEA's Weekly "Works4Me" Email list.
"I have discovered a wonderful use for the printed address labels that so many companies sell. Instead of ordering address labels, I order labels that contain messages to my students from me! Companies sell six hundred labels in assorted colors for as little as $7.95 plus shipping. Some of the messages that I have devised are:
(1) Great job! I'm proud of your effort!
(2) Parents: Please sign and return this graded paper.
(3) You have just earned bonus points, congratulations!
Teachers can customize all kinds of messages for their students. My students love to read what their sticker labels say!"
Submitted by: Melanie Finotti [email protected] , a fourth grade teacher at Keystone Elementary School in Knox, Pennsylvania. This tip was published in the NEA's Weekly "Works4Me" Email list.
Personal Invitations Grades Any
Add a personal touch to your Parent-Teacher Conferences.
"I help parents connect with their child's school experience by purchasing a pack of postcards that are blank with the exception of the postage on the front. I have my students fill out their parents' names and addresses and the school's return address on the front. I send the postcards out with a handwritten personal invitation to parent/teacher conferences on the back.
The notes are personal and send a very positive message to parents that their child and their participation in their child's education are important to me. High school conferences are sparsely attended at our school. These postcards work at getting parents to visit the classroom."
Submitted by: Leahn Agnew [email protected] , a tenth grade English teacher at Lebanon High School in Lebanon, Pennsylvania. This tip was published in the NEA's Weekly Tip Newsletter.
A great way to put those scraps to good use. Used laminating film makes great overhead sheets. I simply go into a Kinko's or any other store that laminates and tell them that I am a teacher looking for used laminating film. They can usually find some pieces in their trash that I cut into 8 x 11-inch sheets. Smaller pieces of laminated paper are used for letters, numbers, dice, domino's, and playing cards. The lamination is thick and sturdy. Best of all, I am recycling.
Submitted by: Laurie Staley [email protected] , a kindergarten teacher at Central Elementary School in Olathe, Kansas. This tip was published in the NEA's Weekly "Works4Me" Email list.
Reminder Board/Time Monitor
"I was always forgetting meetings, assemblies, etc. until I started using my 'Reminder Board.' It's a great way to inform students of the day's special events and keep us on schedule. The 'Reminder Board' is a laminated poster that I use to jot down any special activities my class will be doing that day or anything the students need to bring to school the next day. We can't forget to check it, because it's taped to the inside of my only classroom door!
We also set a timer to alert us when it's time to get ready to go. The students rotate as timers, so that assures all of them they'll get a turn to be the time monitor for the day. Since I started using the 'Reminder Board' and assigning timers, I haven't forgotten or been late once!"
Submitted by: Kris Ringer [email protected] , a second grade teacher in Garden Grove, California. This tip was published in the NEA's Weekly Tip Newsletter.
A helpful tip on developing rubrics.
"I use address labels for self-assessing rubrics. I set up a simple 1-5 scale and then list the skills or ideas to be graded for the assignment. For example, a writing assignment rubric might look like this: 1 2 3 4 5 Capitals 1 2 3 4 5 Periods 1 2 3 4 5 Cursive Students must circle the number that they feel they earned before handing in the assignment. Then I circle the number that I feel they earned when I grade their work.
Most of the time we match, but if we are way off, then I know whom I need to work with the next day. The rubrics help students understand how grades are earned and how to focus on specific skills and concepts."
Submitted by: Mary Wells w, a fourth grade teacher at Southside Elementary in Cocolalla, Idaho. This tip was published in the NEA's Weekly "Works4Me" Email list.
Snacks for Subs
A thoughtful and simply gesture for your next substitute. "I always leave a couple of quarters for the substitute to have a juice, pop or snack on me. Some days, these subs are called very early in the morning and have long drives ahead of them. This is just one way of saying that I appreciate the effort."
Submitted by: From Marcia Chambers , a fourth grade teacher at Winskill School in Lancaster, Wisconsin. This tip was published in the NEA's Weekly "Works4Me" Email list.
Student Record Index Cards
If you have a large number of students to keep track of, this is your solution.
As a high school language arts teacher, I have many students. A way to keep a record of each student is with index cards (small, but you can use 4X6 and space more) and rubber bands:
1. The top (pink) line begins on the left with their last name.
2. Then first (or initial and then middle name).
3. On the far right of this line is their student ID number.
4. The class or block number goes in the uppermost right-hand corner.
5. Skip a line, then they write their parent(s)/guardian(s)' name(s) [so I'll know to whom I speak when I call home].
6. On the fourth line they write their street address.
7. The fifth line has their city and Zip code.
8. The sixth line has their home phone.
9. The next line is skipped and on the eighth I request that they put their email (as our new technology standards require they email).
If they have written compactly, their schedule can be written on the right, otherwise, it goes on the back of the card (I prefer to use that side for comments about IEPs or absences, but tape can attach a second card for that.) With a rubber band, I can easily carry them "home". If you want to use different colors for different classes, go for it! A very dear mentor gave me this more than ten years ago but I have not seen it here. Have a great year!
Submitted by: Jacqueline Bannerman [email protected]
At the beginning of the school year, I list all my students' names (next to their corresponding number) on a piece of paper. I adhere it to the top of my desk by placing clear contact paper over the top. This is really helpful when keeping track of who turned in permission slips, lunch money, is missing an assignment, etc. I just write a column heading at the top and put check marks next to kids' names with a wipe-off marker. When I'm done with that list, I wipe it off and program it for something else!
Submitted by: Amy
Don't loose those lessons and great ideas. Keep them organized and at your fingertips. "As a way of keeping track of all the great ideas I see and read about, I have a recipe box labeled with the different aspects of teaching. The labels include bulletin boards, management, organization, educational web sites, etc. Whenever I have or find a good idea, I write it on an index card and file it in the appropriate place. I am accumulating quite a few great ideas."
Submitted by: Tara Bigner [email protected], a student teacher at Beavis Elementary in Cincinnati, Ohio. This tip was published in the NEA's Weekly "Works4Me" Email list.