The end of the day in an elementary class can be so chaotic without the use of specific classroom routines.
When I first started teaching, part of the end of the day routine was passing out all the papers that I had graded or that needed to be returned. We also had numerous school papers from the office that needed to go home.
I am a huge fan of using the students as helpers, but when it comes to passing out papers at the end of the day this was leading to chaos.
Imagine this ….
You have Joseph passing out the ½ sheet pink PTA flyers about the upcoming BBQ from the office, Rosa is passing out last week’s math test that you just finished grading, Isla is passing out a big random stack of graded papers and then she needs help because the stack is too high. So she comes to you and asks if her best friend Ezra can help out. Isla can’t read all the names yet, so she keeps stopping to ask Rayne who is the best reader in the class. Ezra and Isla keep finding papers without names which means they are coming up to you to ask if you can identify whose papers they are. You start to analyze the handwriting of each one figuring out only 3 and then you just decide to throw the rest in the trash because the class has now erupted into chaos of the end of the day. Just then, Mrs. Le walks in to discuss the “owie” that was on her daughter’s leg 3 days ago and you never called or sent an email home. Meanwhile there are still several paper sets from the office that need to be passed out and each student’s desk is starting to look like a tornado just went through Room 12.
Has this been a scene in your class before?
Well, it has been my class before! I am not proud of it, but I am sure many teachers can relate.
One day I was scrolling through one of those teacher supply magazines that the office puts in your mailbox, but only the fortunate “rich” teachers can afford to remodel their classroom with the items in there, let alone purchase something from it. I was dreaming and flipping the pages when I came across a mailbox system.
It was a nice one too. All made of wood, sturdy and was bound to be the answer to my end of the day chaos.
It didn’t take long before I was scrolling through Amazon, my go to teacher store for the items I need at a cheaper rate, looking for something that would do the trick. I found several different options that could work for a mailbox. I made my decision that matched my teacher budget and that looked like it would hold up for awhile.
I like that it has extra slots and will tell you why in a bit.
Impact of a Classroom Mailbox
Here is how the classroom mailbox system changed our end of the day routine. As a DISCLAIMER: This will not fully fix your end of the day from chaos to no chaos, but it will tame it quite a bit.
I label the mailboxes using Avery address labels cut in half. This way I can put new labels over each year. I label the mailboxes with the student’s first names in alphabetical order. This helps everyone find mailboxes easier.
I keep my stack of papers to be passed out in one of the bottom slots of the mailboxes, I label it “Graded Papers”. As soon as I get papers from the office, I put them in a different empty slot, I label it “Office Papers”. Any papers that don’t have names get thrown away. This is a set routine that is in our class.
In the morning when students arrive two of the class jobs are the mailbox helpers. Their job is to check the mailbox with graded papers and distribute them in the boxes. For students who can’t read the names, I assign a higher student to help them. For students that have their folders in their mailbox, they will stuff their folders for them.
As the other students arrive they put their Take Home Folder inside their mailbox slot. This makes it easy for the mailbox helpers to stuff them.
How often do you send home papers…..
Depending on your classroom routine and the school routine, this may look different for you. In my classroom, I only send home papers, one day a week. This way parents know when to expect the papers home. It also cuts down on the end of the day chaos. The school papers are also sent home that day.
If you send home papers daily, then during your end of the day clean up time, have your mailbox helpers take a stack of school office papers and pass them out in the mail slots. This makes it easier to make sure you don’t miss a student.
The mailbox helpers will stuff the papers in the folders before calling students up. This will take some practice for the younger students and a teacher or aid might need to assist at first.
Then, you can either call students one at a time to be excused and they will walk over to the mailboxes and grab their papers or their folder and head to their backpack, or your mailbox helpers can grab one person’s papers at a time and hand deliver to them and then that person is excused to get their backpacks.
Calling students one at a time allows you to control the chaos by giving students time to get to their backpacks and pack up. I prefer to have students stuff their backpacks outside so that they chaos is not in the classroom.
The good news …
If you just send home papers one day a week, you will just have this extra chaos 1 day a week.
If there is time at the end of the day, I will have the mailbox helpers pass out the rest of the graded papers into the mailbox slots.
I hope that they helps you to organize your “End of the Day” classroom routines.