Connections: Linking Talented Educators
Connections: Linking Talented Educators

10 Time-Saving Tricks for Teachers

January 8, 2016

Time saving tips for teachers

By Rebekah Schilperoort

Teachers are busy. The lesson plans keep coming and the to-do lists keep growing, and figuring out how to get it all done while also being an effective teacher can be daunting. We’ve compiled some time-saving tips posted by other teachers to help you streamline your work so you can focus on the most important part of teaching — your students. 

1. Grade student writing efficiently

Grading papers can be one of the most time-consuming tasks for teachers. To save yourself some stress, consider not pointing out every single mistake on a student’s work. Do, however, highlight the errors that directly align with the lesson. Create a cheat sheet with frequently-used comments from which you can copy and paste.

2. Post instructions for almost everything

Do you ever feel like you’re repeating yourself to students? With the use of shared workflow documents like Office Online or Google Docs you can post instructions for lessons and daily tasks in one central location students check regularly. This method can be used for tests as well as assignments — it’s a great way to keep everyone on task.

3. Use assignment numbers

This clever organizing trick will help you grade and sort papers quickly. In alphabetical order, assign each student in your classroom a number and have them write it on the upper right corner of every paper they turn in. With the papers alphabetized you can simultaneously grade and record scores in your grade book and be done in a flash.

4. Try sticky note warnings

To deal with disruptive behavior without interrupting the class, place three large notes of different colors on the board. Each time a student acts out, quietly remove a sticky note instead of punishing the student. Once all the notes are gone, enforce a consequence, such as lost recess, detention or a note home. You can easily reset this practice every day and it can be used for the entire class or one to two individual students. This is a quiet way of correcting student behavior without taking away valuable teaching time.

5. Use wall folders to easily check assignments

Hang folders — one for each student — in a central location you can see from your desk. Students use the folders to turn in their homework assignments when they enter the room. This way you can easily see at a glance which students complete their work on time. For the tech-savvy teacher, utilize the same method with digital folders for each student.

6. Easily manage papers

Are you buried under mountains of tests, attendance forms, letters, memos and announcements? Here are a few tricks to help curb the mess:

  • With colored file folders, organize papers by subjects and class period.
  • If you haven’t looked at the paper in six months to a year, recycle it.
  • Schedule a block of time once a week on your calendar (create a reminder) to declutter and file papers that are on your desk.
  • Go paperless! Utilize a word processing program to organize and store frequently used forms.
  • Designate a file drawer for each subject you teach and use colored files to sort paper by topic, such as blue for tests and quizzes and red for lesson plans.

7. Plan lessons online

Lesson planning sites can be powerful time-saving tools. Some of the best sites like and help you create lessons around Common Core standards, develop custom schedules for each class, allow students and fellow teachers to view your plans online and adjust lessons with a single click of the mouse.

8. Get students on task immediately

If your students take too long to get settled in their seats after the bell rings, consider planning daily timed activities that students are expected to complete within the first 10 to 15 minutes of class. It could be a trivia contest, a brief quiz on the previous day’s lesson or a question that introduces that day’s work — anything that gets learners on task as quickly as possible.

9. Use an email template

As a modern-day teacher, you likely spend a lot of time sending emails to students and parents on a variety of issues and subjects. Instead of typing out the same email every time, create a standard template for each common issue that you can cut, paste and customize quickly.

10. Call roll after everyone’s on task

There’s no need to waste valuable time calling roll. Instead, wait until students are quietly at work on their first assignment to take roll, or use your seating chart to quickly scan the room and note who’s absent.

Sources: The Cornerstone for Teachers, We Are Teachers, Buzzfeed, Simply Circle, Teacher Vision, Teach Thought, Scholastic, Teach 4 The Heart, Education Oasis

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