5 High School Math Procedures

The start of the school year is a great time to cultivate new procedures in the classroom to keep yourself and your students organized. Many “organized teacher” advice focuses on procedures for elementary and middle school classes, but this time, we’re turning our lens to high school, when papers, grading, and assignments really start to pile up. See five high school procedures below, specifically developed for a math class though adaptable to all subjects, to keep your papers (and your sanity) in check.

This post is adapted from an article by Grace Chen, a Teach For America alum who previously taught high school math and received the 2008 Symantec Award for Outstanding Innovation in Teaching.

 1. Mailboxes

I use plastic boxes with hanging file folders and each student’s name alphabetically. I only use these for returning graded work (really easy to file alphabetically), and students are only allowed to check them when I say to check them on the Do Now. My instructions usually say something along the lines of: “when there is nobody else at the mailboxes, retrieve your work and record your grades on your gradesheet. If there is a line at the mailbox, work on the following review problems to prepare yourself for today’s lesson.” This makes returning work much much easier, and also reduces foot traffic and congestion.

Student mailboxes for returning work

via The Eager Teacher

2. Assessments

I keep all major assessments (quizzes and tests) in manila folders, color-coded by class period, and sorted alphabetically. They live in a file cabinet, and I will return the entire folder to students after a test so they can look over their work, record their grades, and do their tracking. Then I collect the entire folder back and will sign them out to students to study if they want. This way, nothing gets lost and I have a great file to take with me to parent meetings, as well as a good way to check in with students. I give stickers on work that earns As; students like to transfer the stickers to the outside of the folder and feel proud of their accomplishments.

Color-coded file folders for school or home

via Cupcakes and Cashmere

3. Absences

I keep an absence binder in my classroom with five tabs labeled Monday through Friday. At the front are extra syllabi and some notebook paper, and every day after class, I put all the extra copies into that day’s tab. Students who return from absence know to check the binder and take one of every document they missed. I remove documents only when I have new ones to go into that section, so I always maintain one week’s worth of extra copies so that lost work doesn’t create a commotion.

Were You Absent? binder for classroom

via Eat. Write. Teach.

4. Filing

To keep myself organized, I maintain a binder of teacher documents. Every day, I transfer the contents of my clipboard into a binder that has five tabs: lesson plan, do now, notes/classwork, homework, and assessments. This way I not only have a great record of what I’ve done, but also super easy access when students need extra copies.

Teacher binder To keep myself organized, I maintain a binder of teacher documents. Every day, I transfer the contents of my clipboard into a binder that has five tabs: lesson plan, do now, notes/classwork, homework, and assessments.

via Binder Life

5. Testing

On test days, students enter the room silently and take out their notes to study. When they feel ready, they clear their desks, and that is a signal to me that they are ready to begin. This gives students time to collect their thoughts, do any last minute prep work, and get settled instead of feeling ambushed. Also, they are responsible for managing their own time; the longer you study, the less time you get to work on the test (because I still collect them all at the same time), so it’s about responsibly assessing the trade-off.

On test days, students enter the room silently and take out their notes to study. When they feel ready, they clear their desks, and that is a signal to me that they are ready to begin. This gives students time to collect their thoughts, do any last minute prep work, and get settled instead of feeling ambushed.

What other classroom procedures have you tried with high school students?