20 Sanity-Saving Teacher Hacks for the Best Classroom EverAll Posts
Reviewed by Joshua Prieur, Ed.D.,
Written by Ashley Crowe
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Teachers are some of the most creative and resourceful workers in the world.
They teach classrooms full of diverse students with unique challenges and strengths — all while managing curriculum standards, parental interactions and childhood dramas. But even the best teachers keep a few tricks up their sleeves.
If you’re looking to ease your classroom stress, try these teacher hacks! They can help with classroom management, organization, or beginning-of-the-year struggles.
Whether this is your first year teaching or your twentieth, make this year the best with our favorite teacher hacks!
What is a teacher hack?
Teacher hacks are all about finding creative ways to solve problems in your everyday work life.
It may be an administrative shortcut that saves time, or possibly a classroom organization trick that makes your day easier.
The best part — teacher hacks can be used in every classroom, from first grade to high school.
Maybe you’ve also heard of ‘class hacks.’ While class hacks typically have more to do with students, teacher hacks and class hacks can have a lot of overlap. You may even see the words used interchangeably at times.
And don’t worry — hacks aren’t about cutting corners. They’re about improving your efficiency and impact.
You may decide to use a teacher hack in just one area of the classroom, or it may become a whole mindset that helps you keep moving forward and improving. These hacks are often fun ways to help you meet your kiddos’ needs with less stress.
3 Benefits of classroom hacks
What could teacher and classroom hacks do for you?
Save more time
Working outside of school hours is fairly common these days. From a Washington Post survey:
“On average, teachers are at school an additional 90 minutes beyond the school day for mentoring, providing after-school help for students, attending staff meetings, and collaborating with peers. Teachers then spend another 95 minutes at home grading, preparing classroom activities, and doing other job-related tasks.”
But this shouldn’t be the norm. You need time to take care of yourself so you can keep showing up for your students.
Teacher hacks can be the time savers you’re looking for to help you wrap up work tasks before you head home — leaving more time for self-care and rest.
Increase fun for students
Many of our favorite class hacks help make the not-so-exciting tasks, like cleaning or being quiet, more fun.
Adding fun elements to your classroom management and lesson plans can be a game changer.
Remember, a happy teacher will help create happy students. And those happy students are more likely to work hard in the classroom.
Research has even shown that students who feel joy in the classroom better retain information and are more motivated to learn. When strong positive emotions are experienced, the brain learns better.
Become more organized
With great organization comes great peace of mind. Many teachers work hard on classroom organization. With so many people in one space, your classroom needs to work efficiently.
Classroom organization is a big task, but there are many ways to make classroom organization more affordable.
Try some DIY options, ask your friends and family to donate second-hand baskets and shelves, or pick up cheap supplies from a store like Dollar Tree.
Ready to jump into our favorite teacher hacks to save your sanity and time? Let’s get to it!
Best teacher hacks you need to try this school year
As the new year starts, you need to be on your best game — and these teacher hacks are here to help!
1. Create a QR code with relevant contact info
Gone are the days of pencil and paper. Many schools have transitioned to digital learning methods, especially in junior high and high school.
Instead of printing out a sheet of paper with your contact information for each student, generate a QR code that links your contact information.
This gives both students and parents easy access all year long.
2. Use dry-erase clipboards
Dry erase clipboards are great for switching back and forth between paper worksheets and group learning activities.
They simply hang on the side of each student’s desk, minimizing the time-consuming supply shuffling.
3. Stress relief help
Offering your students fidget toys may help them focus on your lecture. While there is a whole market for fidget items, you can also use everyday objects to create your own.
Small squares of bubble wrap or nuts and bolts can work wonders for your students.
4. Give jobs to student groups/tables of students
Build your classroom community and keep your room tidy by assigning small jobs to your students. Have them clean up a learning station or clear the trash after a class activity.
You may find it easier to create a rotating chart, or just assign these chores as needed.
5. Lost parts bin
Whether it’s part of a math manipulative set or a loose paper clip, students are always bringing you small things they don’t know where to put away.
To help with this distraction, designate one bin as a lost parts bin.
You’ll be interrupted less and all those tiny items will be in one place for you to quickly put away at the end of the day.
6. Use live captions in Google Slides
Accessibility is now just a tap away. Before you start presenting your Google Slides presentation, click the three dots in the bottom left corner of your screen.
Then, click Caption Preference and Toggle Caption. Google will listen through your computer’s microphone and automatically generate captions for your students on the screen.
7. Laminate very important paper (VIP) folders
Make a special Very Important Papers folder for each student. It’s best to laminate them or use sturdy file folders so they last all year. You can even put each child’s picture on the front.
Then use these folders to send home information for parents, track IEPs, or store progress reports.
8. Save caps
We’ve all heard — many times — “Miss Teacher, I can’t find the cap to my marker!”
Before throwing away old markers and glue sticks, pull the caps off and start collecting them in a ‘Caps Bin.’
Whenever a student can’t find a cap, send them over to the Caps Bin for a replacement.
9. Take control of noise in the class using classroom chimes
Getting your students to quiet down can be difficult and, oftentimes, not much fun. Trying adding a little calm to the room by playing a peaceful note on a xylophone, bell, or chime.
This soothing sound can break through the noise, bringing order with a side of melody.
10. Make YouTube distraction-free with a hyphen
One simple line can make YouTube distraction-free for learning. Add a hyphen to any YouTube link so that YouTube looks like yout-ube. Here's how it works:
yout-ube.com was created to bypass YouTube's non-skippable ads. Non-skippable ads are video ads that appear before, during, or after YouTube videos and playlists. When a non-skippable ad displays before a video, the viewer is forced to watch the full ad before the desired video starts playing. Simply adding a - after the t in youtube in any YouTube video (watch page) URL solves that issue by instantly linking to the ad-free, looped, full screen version of the video.
And voila! Your videos will now be free of ads and video suggestions.
11. Use visual directions throughout your class
Many kids learn better with visual clues. Make a list of classroom rules or directions for common tasks and hang them in easy-to-reference places.
This keeps you from having to repeat one direction many times; you can simply point to the chart.
12. Use coat hangers for bulletin board storage
Coat hangers and binder clips can become nifty storage options for all your bulletin board supplies.
You’ll likely be able to fit four to five clips on a hanger, reducing the amount of space that your supplies take up, as well as easily look through everything and know exactly what you have.
13. Use plastic plates as disposable whiteboards
Sometimes you may not have quite enough whiteboards to go around. Plastic plates can be a great, cheap stand-in.
They wipe off fairly easily and can either be disposed of or saved for the next lesson.
14. Use anchor charts
Anchor charts have been a classroom staple for years. Hang them up throughout your classroom as a quick reference for those trickier topics.
And if you keep getting the same questions over and over, design some new ones (with your students’ help) to help you save time.
15. Easy reusable paint containers
Paint costs can really add up, especially with younger students that are a little too generous in their artwork.
If your school buys big containers of paint to save money, try using sauce bottles to make more manageable containers.
You can buy plain, empty ones or reuse sauce bottles you’ve emptied at home.
16. Have an “ask me” button
Get a battery-powered button that lights up when you touch it and paint a big question mark on it.
Let students know that when the light is on, it’s okay for them to raise their hands and ask questions.
But when the light is off, it’s time to just listen (unless, of course, there’s an emergency).
17. Make clean-up fun
There are many ways to make clean-up time more fun. Try writing the tasks on ping-pong balls or popsicle sticks, and then let students pick one from the pile.
Or play a favorite song during clean-up time to keep the energy high.
18. Use multiple garbage bins
When you have 20 little people all crowded around one trash bin after craft time, chaos will ensue.
Consider having multiple smaller trash cans around the room so everyone doesn’t end up elbowing each other to be first in line.
19. Use velcro to keep markers out of reach
Use adhesive velcro to attach your markers to the top of your whiteboard. They will be out of reach from little hands while still allowing you to put them away quickly.
20. Start or end your days with a joke or fun fact
School can be stressful for many kiddos. Starting or ending your day on a light note with a fun fact or joke can ease some of that tension.
You can choose to share a funny moment each day or ask your students for their favorite jokes to get them involved!
Teacher hacks can make your life in the classroom so much easier. You’re doing an amazing job shaping the minds of the next generation and deserve all the help you can get.