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40 Hour Workweek

Classroom Management, Productivity Strategies   |   May 28, 2019

22 classroom systems that make my teaching easier

By Angela Watson

Founder and Writer

22 classroom systems that make my teaching easier

By Angela Watson


My name is Deanna Roberts and I’m a third grade ELA/SS teacher in Ohio. As a lifelong perfectionist and overachiever, the club has helped me achieve a healthier work-life balance and has changed my life for the better. I am much more intentional and productive during work hours thanks to the strategies I’ve learned in the club.


As I’ve been in Angela’s 40 Hour Teacher Workweek Club for a full year now, (and then one year in the graduate program), I would like to post a short reflection of a few things I’ve gained from the club these past two years.

The strategies I’ve gained through the club have allowed me to leave work at work with few exceptions. My firm cut off time is 5:30 pm, which is 2 hours extra beyond contracted hours. (And remember, nothing comes home!)

There are several days each week that I leave work on time. I don’t go in early. I work an average of 50 hours a week.

Here’s how I do it.


Each Chromebook is numbered and has a corresponding cord in the Chromebook cart. It is their responsibility to plug their Chromebook in the correct slot. We have a Chromebook checker class job. This student makes sure each Chromebook is plugged in at the end of the day.

I won’t have to change Chromebook labels every year! I have extra labels if I need to replace any throughout the year. It is a paper sticker label with Scotch tape on top. We use class numbers (alphabetical order) for all kinds of things!

Pencil pouches get turned in every Friday. I give everyone five pencils at the beginning of the year along with a notecard with their number on it. If they have five pencils in the pouch on Friday, they get a sticker or small treat. I switch out pencils that need to be sharpened for new pencils.

We have a pencil sharpener job that a student completes during bus dismissal time each day. No one sharpens pencils during the school day at all. The pencil sharpener person uses the pencils they sharpened during the week to fill up the pencil pouches on Friday afternoons.

If a student turns in their pouch with less than five pencils, I give them new pencils and they don’t get the sticker. They try again the next week!

The morning class has blue pouches and the afternoon class has black pouches. I bought them 2/$1.00 at Walmart over the summer. I did have a few students who lost their pencil pouches. I gave them a gallon ziplock bag to use as a replacement or allowed them to bring in one from home. This works very well for me and by January it is self-sufficient.

This is one of my favorite things about my classroom! The procedure is that you can use the hall pass if the teacher isn’t talking, and during work time, as long as we are not taking a test. One at a time, place it on your desk until you get back. If you ask the teacher if you can go to the bathroom, the answer is no! Always follow the procedure! Huge timesaver!

Indoor recess toys are stored under the counter (there is also a cabinet with board games etc.) There are two students whose job is to get the toys out and make sure they are properly put back. The big gray tub is filled with recyclables and building tools with which students are free to create with at one specific table in the room- we have a procedure. The two black trays have well-wisher forms and kindness recorder forms; these are class jobs.

When students are absent the Well-Wisher writes them a letter and puts it in their mailbox. The Kindness Recorder notices kind things and fills out a form to give them or put in their mailbox.

All extra copies go in the extra papers bin and students are free to use them as needed. This is especially helpful for field trip permission slips. The turn in trays are where everything gets turned in. The book bin contains our class set of trade books for the current module.

My classroom library books are organized by genre and author. Classroom Librarians (student jobs) keep it in order. Students are free to borrow one book at a time on the honor system. I do NOT even attempt to keep track. Pillows are for bottoms only. They are not allowed to put their heads on them.

These drawers contain extra resources for each reading unit (extra copies, extensions, etc.) and there is a drawer for each social studies strand. The messy drawer on the bottom has center work that needs to be put back in the correct place. The bins on top are for daily materials. The black organizer currently stores my teacher Chromebook and makeup work that needs to be completed.

I keep blank papers in the trays: copy, handwriting, and notebook paper. The top tray is papers to be graded. The blue binder on the bottom shelf lying sideways is my “Why” binder- I keep the mementos the kids give me in binder sleeves after I take them off the wall.

All language and speaking and listening standards have a bin on the bookshelf behind my desk. I put all of my spelling resources in a file drawer in my desk, labeled with the week.

On the right are my drawers labeled with each reading standard. On the left are drawers with supplies and other needed materials. The not-yet labeled drawers contain the current vocabulary unit work, cursive handwriting, my sub folders and emergency medicals, Book-it and PBIS materials, and test prep materials. The blue bin on top is for copies that I haven’t put away yet and things that people bring me that need to be sorted.

I have a drawer for every reading standard. I put example projects, graphic organizers, and anything else that goes along with a specific standard in the corresponding drawer. This is right beside my desk.

Under the “In Progress” bin are some resources I use weekly and my meeting notes binder that I take with me to all meetings. I used to keep my sub folder and emergency medicals there, but I keep them in a drawer organizer beside my desk now.

The “In Progress” bin is where I put whatever project I am currently working on. I also put homework in here that just needs to be checked off. It is handy for when I have just a few minutes- I can choose from the more involved tasks that need to be finished or the homework that just needs to be checked off.

This hangs right behind my desk. This is one of my favorite outtakes from the club! It keeps the clutter off my desk and it is easy to go back to what I need!

My inbox, extra headphones, book return, and book hospital. The book return is managed by my classroom librarians (student job). The inbox is for tardy slips, notes from home, field trip money, and any other things students might need to turn in besides homework or classwork.

These are student maintained portfolios with monthly writing samples- other assessments go in a filing cabinet in a big pile, to be filed, eventually…

Next year, I might put the portfolios on the bulletin board in the back of my room instead. This is a high traffic area and I had a problem with papers getting torn off accidentally.

You might notice the small soccer ball on my whiteboard tray: it is an ice pack from Dollar Tree. I put it in a small ziplock bag when I hand it out and sanitize after each use. I keep several in my classroom freezer. It is essential! I also stay in supply of mints and bandaids. This saves many nurse trips!

This is how I display my goals each week. We are required to show our learning targets and for our students to be able to repeat them when asked.

This is right inside my doorway. The most frequently referenced items are the two that are currently missing; which are taken down on Fridays. These are the spelling list and vocabulary words and definitions. The rest of it is more for me than them, but I think they occasionally reference it.

The Pencil Sharpeners (class job) place all sharpened pencils here. There is another place for pencils that need sharpened. I use these pencils to refill pencil pouches and students are allowed to take them freely throughout the week. They will usually trade out a pencil that needs to be sharpened pencil for a sharp one if they need it. Our pencil problem is non-existent. Beside the pencils is the place where I put things that need to go to other places- the office, the speech teacher, library, etc. On the other side of the pencils is the pencil sharpener. Only the pencil sharpener person is allowed to use the sharpener.

I keep these handy right beside my desk. The cards are numbered so it is easy to find each student’s information. I also print out the class lists of passwords and keep them in my “To Keep on Hand” folder.

Clean desk club! Also, underneath my desk, you can see class lists hanging by a magnet clip. I use the lists for everything! Field trip money, assignments turned in, reading goals met, etc. It is very easy to get a new list when I need one.

The small numbered bins on the top contain crayons, scissors, and glue sticks. The bottom bins contain our basal readers. The books are marked with duct tape (over contact paper) to correspond with the colored bins.

Glue sticks and scissors are also color coordinated. We have a table supply manager who distributes these supplies when we need them and puts them back when we are finished. (One day I will get around to labeling the book bins–maybe!)

Cubbies are numbered, with paper name tags (not laminated!) placed inside that students can choose to keep or not. The top cubby is for my afternoon class and the bottom is for my homeroom. Students keep their Fruit Binder (binder with all of their folders and their Plickers card; it is called this because I put a smelly fruit sticker on their Plickers card), their writing notebook, pencil pouch and vocabulary journal in their cubby.

It is a classroom job to check cubbies before anyone leaves the classroom. They may look a little messy, but we literally never have loose papers on the floor. Everything has a place! Desks are turned around backwards, they do not use their desks for storage. All loose/returned work goes directly in their take-home folder.

I store classroom sets of trade books for our reading program on top of the cubbies. These are dishwashing bins from Walmart. Each bin is labeled with the unit and module. This is the only thing that I keep above the cubbies. I take each bin down as I need it and place it on the back counter. We keep the bin on the counter for as long as we need the books for the module.

I have storage shelves behind the fabric where I keep extra paper towels, tissues, etc., seasonal decorations and supplies, games, and other materials.

Papers to be distributed are in the last file folder in the back. This is a classroom job. Students pass out papers every week. If someone is absent, their work goes in their mailbox.

Beside the mailboxes is the “I Need” box our art teacher made for me! This has saved me many headaches as students write me notes letting me know people are bothering them, they need supplies, etc. and I can be proactive. It is also a classroom job to check the “I Need” box every day and bring me the notes.

A place for everything and everything in its place!

Some of my favorite takeaways from the club that are not pictured are batching, stamps and grading stations. These are all huge timesavers and totally worth it!

I would also like to mention that a huge contribution to my success is that 90% of my assessments, including spelling tests and bi-weekly vocabulary tests are on Google forms, Edulastic, Readworks, or on our ReadyGen interface. They are all graded automatically except for extended responses. I love, love, love the 40 Hour Workweek Club!

Deanna implemented these systems after joining

the 40 Hour Teacher Workweek Club.

This can be the year YOU get your systems in place, too.

The next cohort begins January 4th, 2020!

Angela Watson

Founder and Writer

Angela created the first version of this site in 2003, when she was a classroom teacher herself. With 11 years of teaching experience and more than a decade of experience as an instructional coach, Angela oversees and contributes regularly to...
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  1. I use a Pencil System called “Winning the Pencil War”. It is free and can be found on Teachers Pay Teachers. I’ve use it several years now and it has cut down on Bitten Pencils, Erasers on Pencils being taken off, the silver part of the eraser being taken off, Lost pencils, and pencils being broken in half, ect. As for the “Bin full of Pencils”, what I do is order a box of 100-200,ect from Amazon at the beginning of the year and I fill my bin up with ready sharpened pencils. I am the one who replaces pencils if needed from this bin. The students are not allowed to get any on their own. At first it’s hard for them to keep their pencils nice and neat but it is worth training them to do this at the very beginning of the school year. I teach Kindergarten so I’m sure that for other grades it can work eventually. If not, just keep trying until you find what works for you.

  2. I think I spy some Conscious Discipline amongst the 40 hour work week hacks! Nicely done!

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