Who doesn’t love to save time? Especially future you? Here are five great time saving hacks that will make your life easier and a little less repetitive, run a little smoother, and save you time in the long run!

Color Coordinate

For all your materials, folders, files, things going home, classroom storage, etc, pick one color per grade. Kindergarten is red, 1st is orange, 2nd is yellow, 3rd is green, 4th is blue, 5th is purple. This way when you are rushing, or need to have a student do something, they know that color is for their grade. Instead of looking through 18 different folders, they’ll look through 3 to find their class. Color coordinate whatever you can and the system will help your day to day activities run quickly and efficiently! This works really well too if you use bright colors for your classroom decor!


Save ONE original of everything. Mark it with a yellow highlighter in the top corner so it doesn’t show up in copies and save it in an original folder per grade. (Color coordinated of course). Don’t keep it with the copies. Put things you’ve made copies of in a different space so you can find them but those originals will be safe and sound (and not accidentally used and have to be reprinted) if you have them stored away from the student copies. There are so many good reasons to do this.

  • You know where it is if you need more copies for a new student
  • Easily accessible for parents who come to make copies for you
  • Can store chronologically by year or by concept
  • You won’t have to recreate the wheel next year except for small edits to dates on letters. Simply edit and replace in the folder with the new one.
  • No accidentally using the original

Student Jobs

It can be easy to forget that our students, especially our older ones, can really help with a lot of classroom tasks. As music teachers its easy to forget we can utilize our students even if they are only in our room a short period of time each week. Not only do they feel empowered, but it gives them a sense of self-reliance in the classroom. I’ve had classes that clean my room at the end of the day/week (dust, sweep, close the blinds, turn off lamps, reset the chairs, etc). but there are so many other things they can do. Make sure you check out this post for a long list of what students can do to save you time!


Absent Box

Just like we have a plastic bin for sub tub things, make an “Catchup Tub”. When you pass things out, which may not be every class, put the papers for missing students in a folder in that tub that is specifically for that class. It can also be a place to put unfinished worksheets. You won’t have papers laying around, and when the student comes back, they will know to look for it. You can even put in a short paper of ‘what we did while you were out on *date*’ for absent students so they know (and you can remember) if they missed anything super important. It’s really hard to keep track of all the students and what they are missing when you have several hundred kids in and out of your room each week so check in with the box at the beginning of class so you can see if you need to grab an assessment, if a student needs papers, or needs to finish something.

Record Yourself

What? If you are like me, you’ll know I HATED having to record things of myself in college. CRINGE. But there is a HUGE benefit to it. Hear me out.

Only say it once.

You explain this big drawn out thing and 2 students are missing. They come back different days and you have to explain it again, twice. NOPE. Record your lesson. Upload it to Google Classroom or another system if you use it. Or simply save it to your Google Drive with the title of the lesson. When they come back, they watch it on their own (or send it home as missed work) and can then ask questions afterwards. SO worth it.

I hope this has given you some great ideas to save yourself some time and energy! What do you do to save time in the classroom?

Melissa Stouffer-1

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