Organization & Management, Tips & Tricks

6 Must Do’s For Staying Sane In The Classroom

Being a teacher requires not only A LOT of patience and time but a few tricks of the trade in order to stay somewhat sane (LOL)… Without it, it’s very easy to drown in stacks of papers, lesson plans, parent conferences, data sheets, and student writing samples… TEACHING.IS.NOT.FOR.THE.FAINT.OF.HEART!


Since nobody really wants a crazy teacher for their kids, the sooner you find a system that keeps you organized and streamlines your workload, the happier you’ll be! That’s why today I’m sharing 6 things that I do in my own classroom, that have made all the difference in the world.


1. Colored Interactive Notebooks

The sides of notebooks colored in different colors to make them easier to find in student's desks

Each student in my classroom currently has 5 composition notebooks in their desk. They all pretty much look the same, and although I’ve placed pretty labels on every single one of them indicating which subject they belong to (yes, I’m that OCD) it’s hard to read a label when your notebooks are stacked one on top of each other. That’s why I have my students color the sides with a crayon.


As a matter of fact, because I am a little crazy when it comes to organization, if their reading and language arts folder is yellow, then the sides of their reading and language arts notebook must also be colored yellow. If their math folder is green then I have my students color the sides of their math notebook green as well.


With this trick, all I have to say is “take out your blue notebook and folder” and within seconds, my 22 students have taken out their supplies and are ready to get to work. Gone are the days of kids emptying out their entire desks on the floor in search of a notebook. They are now able to quickly find what they need without wasting time. With our crazy schedules you know we’ve gotta save time wherever we can. I only wish somebody had told me about this hack sooner!!!!!


2. Teacher Friendly Classroom Jobs

Teal and green jobs chart waiting to be laminatedAlmost every student in my class has a job! Besides the usual line leader, door holder, and board eraser, I’ve created a few unique jobs. For example, in my class we have a Pencil Patrol. The Pencil Patrol’s  job is to go around at the end of the day and collect any pencils lying on the floor. You know… the ones nobody seems to claim but lie scattered EVERYWHERE!


After picking up these yellow orphans, if they need to be sharpened, the PP will do so in our Classroom Friendly Sharpener and then place them in a bucket ready for tomorrow. They’re actually the only ones allowed to touch our class sharpener! Trust me after spending a crazy amount of money replacing our sharpener every few months, having only 1 person do the sharpening each week has kept our sharpener alive for 2 years straight!


The job of Telephone Operator is pretty popular with my kiddos… Whenever my classroom phone rings, the TO goes over and answers “Mrs. Yglesias class, how can I help you?” This allows me to continue teaching while they take a message. In other words, it buys me some time to reach a stopping point or at the very least finish the last paragraph I was reading.


If you don't want trash all over your classroom floor, have your Cleanup Crew place a trash bucket at each table. Once students are done, the Cleanup Crew walks around collecting and emptying trash buckets. This eliminates having twenty some kids running to the trash can at the same time.


The Cleanup Crew is one my student’s favorites! I usually pick 2 students a week for this job. The CC’s job is to place a trash bucket at each table whenever we’re doing an activity that involves cutting or crafty supplies. Once we’re done, the 2 helpers empty the buckets in the trash can and make sure we don’t have an avalanche of trash #youknowwhatimtalkingabout!  If a student’s pencil sharpener falls on the floor releasing all those nasty pencil shavings, the CC will also grab a dustpan and take care of it. They’re kinda like your classroom Fairy God Mothers


2. Turn In Bins


Are you tired of having stacks of papers on your desk? If so, then turn in bins are perfect for you. When students finish assignments just have them place their work into these multicolored bins. Whenever YOU are ready, simply go get the papers from the labeled bins. It's that easy!

These multi-color bins keep papers off of my desk until I’m ready to handle them!


Whenever students finish an assignment, test, or activity, they place it in the appropriate bin. They’re color-coded and labeled so there’s no confusion. At the end of the day, or whenever I’m ready, the neatly organized papers are sitting patiently waiting for me on the back counter. I no longer have piles of papers scattered across my desk screaming at me to do something with them. Simply having them sorted and sitting in these colorful bins brings me so much joy and peace #sometimesitsthesmallthings


My extra copies bin also comes in handy for those students that always seem to misplace {insert cough… or lose} papers. Rather than ask for a replacement sheet, my kiddos know to check the Extra Copies. If they can’t find an extra in the bin, they’re out of luck {You’ve got to teach them responsibility or else they’ll just continue to “misplace” papers!}


Being a teacher can be overwhelming at times! That's why it's so important to work smarter and not harder. Having a set of folders labeled by weeks where you store a copy of ever sheet used throughout that week makes planning for next year a cinch!

Another benefit of having an extra copies bin is that on Fridays I take 1 copy of every sheet I’ve passed out throughout the week and store it in a folder that I’ve labeled by weeks. The following year when it’s time to plan, all I have to do is whip out my folder of copies from the previous year. This trick alone will save you tons of time!!!!


4. Storage for Headphones/Earbuds

Blue basket with colored Budleys to keep earbuds organized and prevent knotting of the cords.

Last year I had an issue with my students’ earbuds and headphones always getting tangled. That’s why this year I decided to try something new. I now store my kiddos earbuds in these little rubbery containers called Budleys .


I love that they’re compact, durable, reusable, and easy to use. At almost $10 a piece, they are a bit pricey… However, perhaps you can convince the PTA or each parent to purchase one for their child. Not only will it keep the cords from knotting up, but it will also protect them from fraying. In other words, parents won’t have to spend more money buying a replacement set halfway through the year.


Wrapping earbud cords around a teal Budley. This keeps earbuds from tangling and fraying.


The way these Budleys work is that students flip open the rubbery sides, stash the buds in a hole in the center, and then wrap the cord around the disk. By flipping the rubber sides back over, everything stays secured inside the case. Wrapping the cords also prevents them from getting all tangled up.


Can’t tell you how many times I had to stop last year right in the middle of our guided reading groups just to untangle some of my students earbuds. It was a TOTAL.PAIN!!!! So even though they aren’t cheap, they’ve been a HUGE.TIMESAVER and SANITY.SAVER for me.


Being a teacher can be overwhelming at times! That's why it's so important to work smarter and not harder. Using chenilles to tie the cords from headphones keeps them from getting tangled up. Then storing the them in labeled Ziploc bags keeps them organized and easy to take with you to the computer lab.Now you’re probably wondering, “What about those kids that prefer headphones?” Well, I got a hack for that too. I like to store headphones in labeled Ziploc bags that have a zipper-like closure across the top. I’ve found that it’s a lot easier for kids to close the zippered bags than the ones they have to press and seal. To keep the cords from tangling, we fold them up and secure them with chenille rods. It’s a relatively cheap solution that keeps headphones organized. The baggies are then kept inside of labeled baskets that make them easy to transport to the computer lab.


5. Labeled Class Library

Being a teacher can be overwhelming at times! That's why it's so important to work smarter and not harder. Labeling baskets and books with matching labels means you only have to do it once and can forget about it. It also makes returning books to their proper home that much easier for students.

Every year that I’m in the classroom I learn something new… And one of the things I learned right from the start, was how important it is for students to be able to return books to the right basket in a class library. Without some sort of system in place that students can easily follow, the library area can quickly turn into a DISASTER ZONE!


Being a teacher can be overwhelming at times! That's why it's so important to work smarter and not harder. Labeling books so that they match the labels on the baskets means you only have to do it once and can forget about it


After many years of trial and error, I’ve found that placing a label on each book specifying its genre and then a matching label on each of the baskets, makes returning books to their rightful home a breeze.


With this system in place, whenever a student finishes reading a book, it’s as easy as matching up labels.  It’s so simple that even the class librarians are able to organize the library and place books where they belong. This keeps our library organized and user friendly!


Sorting all of the books into categories also makes finding a specific book that much easier! Rather than have to search through hundreds of books, students can go to a certain basket and quickly find what they’re looking for.

Being a teacher can be overwhelming at times! That's why it's so important to work smarter and not harder. Labeling books so they match the label on the baskets means you only have to do it once and can forget about it

Labeling ALL of the books in your library does take some time. Especially if you have a rather large library… However, the good news is that you only have to do this once.


6. Student Numbers

Being a teacher can be overwhelming at times! That's why it's so important to work smarter and not harder. Numbering student book bins means you only have to do it once and can forget about it

I know that some teachers refuse to number their students because they say that it’s impossible for them to remember every child’s number. But I’m here to tell you that you don’t HAVE to memorize their numbers. It sort of happens on it’s own 


Numbering your students will save you SO MUCH TIME! I use numbers all over my classroom. For example, I number my students book bins so that I only have to do it once. Unless I change the color scheme in my class the following year, I will not redo these labels. If I used student names rather than numbers, I’d have to rewrite their name every year #nobodysgottimeforthat.


I also number our job’s chart as you can see in one of the pictures above and our clipboards . Again, I do this once and forget about it. Being a teacher can be overwhelming at times! That's why it's so important to work smarter and not harder. Numbering student clipboards means you only have to do it once and can forget about it


My students also write their number on the top right-hand corner of every paper they turn in. Once I collect their work, I automatically place them in numbered order. This helps me to identify NO NAME papers and also allows me to enter grades into the gradebook rather quickly. Especially since their numbers coincide with alphabetical order. The only exception might be if I receive a new student. In this case, I give them the next number available. For example, if I have 22 students and happen to receive a new student on Monday, that student’s number will be 23.


I also like to number my student’s work folders… As you can see, I use student numbers all over my classroom to streamline my work and I absolutely LOVE IT! I’m all for working smarter not harder. And like I said before, because I use this system in so many ways, although I don’t take my class list home and “study” my students’ numbers, it sort of happens on its own.

Being a teacher can be overwhelming at times! That's why it's so important to work smarter and not harder. Numbering student work folders means you only have to do it once and can forget about it


Being a teacher can be overwhelming at times! That's why it's so important to work smarter and not harder. This post has 6 easy tips that will help keep any teacher sane.

Do you already use any of these tips?

Do you have some other tips that have saved you time and helped keep you sane? If so, let me know in the comments below… I’m always looking for new ways to save time!


Previous Story
Next Story

You Might Also Like


  • Reply
    Kelly Long
    June 15, 2018 at 8:25 am

    Hi. I love your ideas. Is that your own classroom helper set and is it available somewhere for sale?
    I’m getting ready to try the turn in system and I love the extra copies bin.
    Thanks for sharing.

  • Reply
    Coleen ODowd
    June 19, 2018 at 5:45 pm

    Where are the products from this blog? I’m especially interested in the classroom jobs poster. Thanks!

  • Reply
    Tiff Jendrzejczyk
    June 21, 2018 at 8:47 am

    Where did you get the labels for your classroom library?

    • Reply
      June 28, 2018 at 11:32 am

      Hi there Tiff :0)
      I purchased them from The Brow Bag Teacher on Teachers Pay Teachers. If you search “Classroom Library Labels for the Intermediate Classroom” you should be able to find them!

  • Reply
    June 22, 2018 at 7:29 am

    Another positive to assigning numbers to your students…In an emergency, you can quickly determine who is with you & who is missing when they line up in “Number Order”!

    • Reply
      June 28, 2018 at 11:31 am

      Ari, yes that’s another plus for sure!!!! I’ve also had to line them up alphabetically for class pictures and having them numbered is as easy as “line up in number order”!

  • Reply
    Tammy Wood
    June 23, 2018 at 3:34 pm

    I love using the number system. It is easy to use and makes sense. I love this system and use it for everything. One thing you didn’t mention was using it on fieldtrips. I just have my kids callout when their number is called or I have them say it. I immediately know who’s here etc.

    • Reply
      June 28, 2018 at 11:30 am

      YESSSSS, Tammy!!!! How could I leave that out, LOL! You are absolutely right. That is another WONDERFUL reason to use numbers. I think it simplifies so much… and isn’t it amazing how by the end of the year you know all your kids numbers? Can’t tell you how many times I’ve been asked to check a list from the office and see if any of my students are missing. All I have to do is go down the list in my head. That’s a win in my book for sure. Thanks again for reminding me about the field trips :0)

  • Reply
    Kimberly Demusz
    June 29, 2018 at 10:57 pm

    What website are your classroom labels located on?

    • Reply
      May 14, 2019 at 8:46 pm

      They are in my Teachers Pay Teachers Store. If you click on SHOP at the top of my website, you’ll be taken directly to my TPT store ;0)

  • Reply
    July 2, 2018 at 8:39 am

    Another advantage of numbering students: as the other students learn each other’s numbers, I can use that for teaching numbered conceps, ex. the Bill of Rights or the Ten Commandments. Student #1 will be given a scenario that demonstrates either the first commandment or First Amendment, or a violation thereof, and other students identify which it is. (I don’t mix the teaching of the two.)

    • Reply
      May 14, 2019 at 8:44 pm

      Genius! Yes, there are so many uses for the number system!

  • Reply
    July 2, 2018 at 5:43 pm

    I love using numbers, too! Something I started doing the last couple of years is numbering more expensive consumables. For example, each student has a set of watercolours and pastels. I have put their number on the boxes. They can only use their own. That means that the kids who take very good care of their things have a set in good condition every time. The kids who may have a tendency to be careless or even destructive soon learn that they don’t like having broken or damaged supplies when they can’t just grab new stuff, which encourages them to be more careful.

    • Reply
      May 14, 2019 at 8:41 pm

      Yes, I do the same! I’m not into having community supplies for this same reason. I mean I always have a bucket for each table with supplies that I purchased at the beginning of the year, but they are on a shelf for the students to use in case of an emergency. Otherwise, they have to use their own supplies. Any extra supplies they have I store in a rolling cart underneath our sink inside of a Ziploc bag with their number on it.

  • Reply
    July 3, 2018 at 4:46 pm

    Where can we find the student jobs?

  • Reply
    Maria Thompson
    July 5, 2018 at 8:13 pm

    Do you sell the labels for your organized drawers on Teacher Pay Teachers?

    • Reply
      May 14, 2019 at 8:43 pm

      Hi there Maria. The labels on the drawers are from another teacher on Teachers Pay Teachers. You can find her by searching “Learning in Wonderland”. Her resources are beautiful!

    • Reply
      May 14, 2019 at 8:46 pm

      I don’t but if you search for “Learning in Wonderland” on Teachers Pay Teachers you’ll be able to find them there :0)

  • Reply
    July 20, 2018 at 8:47 pm

    We are fortunate to be 1:1, so I can assign their laptops using their numbers 😉 I am able check-in with kiddos who need to be a little more responsible with replacing them to the charging locker. The charging locker, and chargers are all numbered, too! Also, I assign a classroom job, “Technology”. They make sure everything is plugged in at the end of the day and report to me who I need to remind… such a time saver for me!!

    • Reply
      May 14, 2019 at 8:38 pm

      Yes, love the idea of assigning laptops by numbers. It just makes everything so much easier and quicker 🙂

  • Reply
    July 21, 2018 at 1:34 pm

    Where did you get your clipboard bins? Love all of your tips!

    • Reply
      January 13, 2019 at 3:00 pm

      Thank You!!!! The containers were from the Dollar Tree. Cheap and colorful :0) and they’ve lasted a few years already.

  • Reply
    August 17, 2018 at 5:29 am

    Hey, where did you get your container to store your clipboards? And what kind of tape did you use to tape on your numbers on your clipboard?

    • Reply
      January 13, 2019 at 2:54 pm

      The containers were from the Dollar Tree. and I used small labels similar to address labels to number the clipboards. They’ve been on for a few years now and still sticking strong :0)

  • Reply
    Petra Bess
    August 28, 2018 at 11:37 pm

    I also use the number system. I use the number system in the same ways as the ones that were listed above. But I also use the number system for assigning classroom jobs. I correlate today’s date with the student’s classroom numbers. For instance if today is the 11th day of the month I will assign the jobs to number 1 and number 11. I am a first grade teacher so by using this help the students pay attention to the date thus learning them . But I think the greatest advantage to using the number system is that I don’t have to make anything to remind the students therefore taking up at least amount of time. If a student(s) is absent the next day or two numbers that would equal to that date. For instance, if it’s the 18th then we might use 17 and 1 or numbers 12 and 6 if the helpers are absent. The beauty of it all is I never have to write any names or create anything to implement the helper of the day.

    • Reply
      May 14, 2019 at 8:37 pm

      What a GREAT idea! I’ve never seen the number system used in that way, but I love how it’s reinforcing other skills at the same time. You’re so creative :0)

  • Reply
    September 24, 2018 at 11:25 pm

    I label all students supplies…yes, their pencils too! No more fights over pen, eraser or gluesticks.
    Students line up by numbers…no more problems about someone cutting in line, caboose and line leader.
    Data wall are display showing only their numbers to keep students confidentiality.
    My handy helper runs in numerical order giving students clear expectation and they know when is their turn…they don’t like to miss school when is their turn to be the second teacher in the classroom!
    Book boxes, backpack hangers, binders, folders, everything in my classroom has a number.
    Love this system.

    • Reply
      May 14, 2019 at 8:36 pm

      Yes, it is quite the lifesaver indeed! And I’m with you, numbering their pencils is a must… LOL!

  • Reply
    September 27, 2018 at 8:24 am

    Are the jobs chart icons available?

  • Reply
    December 27, 2018 at 12:12 pm

    I love all of these ideas and can’t wait to put them in place when we return from Christmas break! Thank you, thank you, thank you!

    • Reply
      January 13, 2019 at 2:45 pm

      You’re very welcome Kelli…
      Hope the tips came in handy :0)

  • Reply
    February 19, 2019 at 7:32 pm

    Where did you get the class jobs labels? I love all of these tips!

    • Reply
      March 16, 2019 at 11:18 am

      Hi Kristy-
      I created this job chart for my class! Since I printed on cardstock, laminated, and use numbers instead of my students’ names I don’t have to redo it year after year. It’s been quite a time saver! If you’d like to take a look at the resource, feel free to check out my TPT store here –>>>

  • Reply
    February 19, 2019 at 9:30 pm

    Where did you get your classroom job chart/pictures? Thanks!

    • Reply
      March 16, 2019 at 11:18 am

      Hey Cynthia-
      I created this job chart for my class! Since I printed on cardstock, laminated, and use numbers instead of my students’ names I don’t have to redo it year after year. It’s been quite a time saver! If you’d like to take a look at the resource, feel free to check out my TPT store here –>>>

    Leave a Reply

    This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.