Life Hacks for high school teachers

17 Insanely Clever Hacks For Teachers, By Teachers  September 25, 2015 – 10:00 am
10. Here s how you keep your

4. “One great way to keep students on task while you are taking attendance or doing all the little beginning of class necessities is to have a daily bell ringer.
When the bell rings the students should begin to answer or respond to a question that is on the board. The response should not take longer than five minutes and can act as a review.”
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6. “If I see a kid doing something or starting to do something that causes distractions, I continue to teach as I casually approach their desk. Without acknowledging them directly or even making eye contact, I do two subtle taps on the corner or their desks. It avoids confrontation, invading their personal space, or disruption of the lesson while still acknowledging the need for correction. When I approach their desk, I take an indirect route so most students have no idea what I’ve done.”
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8. “When I take attendance on my clipboard during the Do Now, I say out loud, ‘John is working, Mary is working, ’ etc. It seems like I’m grading them, but really it’s just attendance. Sometimes Billy will say, ‘Miss, I’m working!’ so he’s sure to get ‘credit’. Sometimes I will sneak manage and say, ‘Julie is juuuuust getting started working’ as though I were marking her down a grade, even though all I have done is mark her present. Whenever I say something like this, Julie starts working in earnest. I have never once said anything about a Do Now grade, or explicitly said they were earning a grade, but they all assume that’s what is happening. No one has ever once asked to see their Do Now grade - or wondered why it wasn’t reflected in the online grade book.”
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10. “I’d use poker chips during class discussions. I put them in groups and if they ask or answer a question then they get a chip. I count them at the end of class and at the end of each quarter the group with the most chips gets extra credit. They also lose chips if their group is talking or if someone puts their head down. So, they learn to regulate their own behavior and their group’s behavior.”
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ID: 3241327

11. “I have sheets of brain teasers that I pass out each Monday. There are logic grids, Sudoku, word games, content-related crosswords and word searches. I shrink them down so that I can fit five or six teasers on the page. I rotate the types so that the kids don’t lose interest. I have them keep them in a folder on the supply desk at their table group so that they ALWAYS have it handy. The expectation is that if they finish their work early or have down time due to an urgent situation of any type, they may either silent read or work on their activities. I go over them on Monday before I hand out the new one, so if they are itching to work on one, they may take it home for the weekend to finish. I will never teach without these again. It takes the stress off of down time completely.”
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13. “I have a microphone connected to my PC in the classroom. In situations where it’s difficult to regain focus, I unmute it and politely inform the class that this is Sparta.
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ID: 3241328

14. “English teacher hack: don’t grade papers holistically. Look at only one or two specific aspects of your classroom’s focus (parenthetical citation, topic sentence, coherence, evidence usage, analysis, etc). And don’t always assign four-page papers thinking that length equates to rigor or some sort of life-lesson, keep their papers short and direct - I use focus essays in my classes: three paragraphs focused entirely on content understanding and organization/coherence - 500 words. They help with AP classes and other writing standards.”
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16. When I have a student who is disruptive, I put three small post-it notes on the white board, and each time I would have to redirect them, I would instead just remove a post-it without saying anything. Once all post-it’s are gone, there is a consequence - lost recess, note home, or whatever. They ‘reset’ every day (or whatever works for the kid). Only that kid and I know what the post-it notes are for. This is a quiet, non disruptive way to correct disruptive behavior - you don’t have to stop teaching or even move far - and sometimes removing that post-it can be cathartic.


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