Teacher Hacks and Organizing

Hacks might be one of my favorite things ever! They are so genius and make my heart happy.

Digital Teacher Hacks

  • Microsoft Word
    • always use narrow margins
    • use the footer to number handouts
    • insert white shapes to cover things up if you can't crop it
    • use text boxes to keep things organized and move things exactly where you want
  • Folders
    • make a new folder for each school year
    • inside that make a folder for each prep
    • inside that make a folder for each unit
    • inside that label things with the skill number, ie 1 Function Composition INB, 1 Function Composition Card Sort, Skill 1 Quiz
    • I also make folders for INB, Procedures, and the First Week
    • I have Student Council and Cheer folders but not inside school year folders since I do them every year
  • Excel
    • I create a 'Curriculum Notes' spreadsheet with a new tab for each course; list out every unit and skill and then next to it I make notes about things to fix/change/add
    • I have an EOC spreadsheet with a new tab for each period; I list their scores from August, December, and May; I have a column for number correct and percentage; then I show growth from Aug-Dec, Dec-May, and Aug-May; also show class averages for each of those columns; (makes really nice graphs for teacher evaluation binders)
  • PowerPoint
    • I made a blank slide with a chevron border at the top and bottom of the slide. I save this as a template and use it for every powerpoint I create. I know it's a bit much but it matches my room and I feel like it ties everything together.
    • Print your slides to your Smart Notebook printer and it automatically converts them for you. My Smartboard won't let me write on powerpoints so I have to do it.
    • Since I can't use animations, I duplicate slides and add answers or whatever so that in Smart Notebook I can advance to the next slide without animations
  • Classroom
    • Use it for everything!
    • Post links or directions
    • Use one form for daily bell ringers and delete the responses every week
    • I post an announcement with my 'weekly wrap-up' of two random questions. I number it with the week and I change the number of questions too. Students respond in private comments and we will keep the conversation going all year.
    • Post the weekly Marbleslide challenge
    • Move the bell ringer post to the top every week
  • Websites
    • Kahoot
    • Quizlet
    • Egg.Timer
    • Desmos
Classroom Hacks
  • More Time basket- this has saved my sanity and my desk from being covered in papers. I have a green basket labeled Grade Me and a blue basket labeled More Time. If the bell rings before students finish a quiz/test, it goes in the blue basket until the next day.
  • I made laminated letters that say Date and Q/T and hung them with magnets on the board. I also made laminated numbers with magnets so I can change the date every day. And yes they're chevron. under Q/T I write students who were absent for a quiz/test. I write their name on the quiz/test paper and then put it this top wall bin. I decorated the bin with scrapbook paper and washi tape. The bottom mail bin is for random papers or mail that I don't know where to put. Just say no to paper piles!

  • This hanging file organizer has one slot for each period. I put handouts for absent students in the folder so that they stand up straight and don't bend over.
  • Decorate your whiteboards with bulletin board borders. The space is wasted anyway and it really brightens up the room. Magnets were too heavy so I use foam stickies.
  • I use these Sterilite drawers daily. One drawer for each period, a drawer of card stock, a drawer of INB extra, a draw of manila folders/page protectors, and a drawer for random leftover stuff.
  • I make a binder for each course for answer keys only. I print new originals every year in case I need to change titles or page numbers. I also found these cute paper holders at Dollar Tree last year. I use colorful paper for each different unit in our INBs.

  • I print and laminate tabs for each unit in our INBs. I bought this pill box from Dollar Tree and covered it with duck tape and stickers. It's the perfect size to hold my tabs.
  • I have an activity tub for each unit in each course. I am in the process of re-labeling and reorganizing them , and etc in there.
  • Use a screw organizer from Lowe's to organize your classroom essentials. 
  • Decorate a Pringles can to hold extra rulers.
  • Decorate flavored water mix containers for storage.

Personal Hacks
  • Keep food and drink at all times. You really need water to get through the day. I bring two separate bottles and keep one in the fridge at all times. I also keep snacks because I need them but also because sometimes students need them and how can you say no?
  • Keep chapstick, tweezers, fingernail clippers, nail file, Tide To Go stick, phone charger, deodorant, hair spray, lint roller, toothpicks, and REAL KLEENEX. Okay I'm totally over prepared but these are things that students ask for and use regularly.
  • Don't set anything on your desk. Anything! No piles. At the very least, clean it before you leave.
  • I am not a morning person. Before I leave school, I have everything ready for first hour because I cannot trust myself to leave anything until morning. The computer screen is ready to go, answer keys laid out, handouts, whatever. 
  • I try not to take anything home. If it's grading papers or something that needs to be organized or put together, it's happening in the classroom. If it's something to create or that I can do digitally, that's what I'm taking home. If I create something at home I go ahead and print out a copy. Then when I get to school I can just pull my original out of my bag and copy right away.
  • Grade things immediately. I don't know why I have to say this but I grade everything the same day students finish it, put it in the grade book immediately, and return them the next day. Always. Students thank me for this.
  • I color code each class and use that color of pen to write with and color code my INB to match. Anything I can color code digitally is always that colors as well. Algebra I is blue, Geometry is green, Algebra II is purple, and Trig is pink.
  • I keep two automatic spray air fresheners (buy the batteries and can refills at Dollar Tree!) and one wax warmer in the classroom plus a spray can of air freshener in the front and back of the room. It smells good in my room 24/7.
  • I have a student area in the back where students can use stapler, hole punch, Kleenex, pencil sharpener, mirror, lint roller, lotion, hand sanitizer or Clorox wipes. This also keeps them from ever needing to touch anything on my desk. Ever.
  • Use facial scrubbers from Dollar Tree, a pack of three, as dry erase erasers.
  • Throughout the day, as you are walking around and help students multi-task by cleaning the room. As I walk I straighten up things, return things to the cart, pick up trash, dump my baby trash cans, dump the pencil sharpener, grab a Clorox wipe and wipe off empty desks, etc. When the day is over, the room is clean and you are ready to go.
I suggested this theme and then had a hard time thinking of hacks that I do...To me a hack is something that makes my life easier and that usually has something to do with organizing. but I guess I ended up covering all the bases for teacher hacks and organizing!


  1. Love your genius hacks, Elissa!
    I got a great classroom hack from Alice Keeler's book-For assignments with a lot of directions, put the directions on a separate google doc instead of in a classroom post. That way you can edit the google doc on the fly if you find something wrong. (also if you use the same post for multiple periods, you don't have to edit all of them separately!)

  2. Does your school pay for all these organizers and bins? Mine would never... :'(

    1. They paid for the clear ones inside the cabinet but the rest are mine and usually from Dollar Tree.