I have yet to meet a teacher who has not found the copier to be one of the banes of teacher life. To make this dilemma even more complicated, last year I began working for an elementary school that has only one copy machine… for the entire school! Here are a few tips I have learned that save a significant amount of time each week.
Have you ever looked at how many pages of tests and quizzes you print every month? As an upper elementary teacher, my tests and quizzes are often several pages long. I felt like I was spending hours printing tests and quizzes and stapling the pages together, each month. So, I decided to only make copies of tests, and other large packets, once and then recycle them from year to year.
Now, I have all my tests and quizzes copied and filed away in a cabinet, organized and ready to use throughout the year. For example, when it is time for my students to take their Revolutionary War test, all I have to do is pull out my file folder of Revolutionary War tests. In that folder, 30 Revolutionary War tests are printed, stapled, and ready to use. Rather than having students write their responses on the actual test, I have a standard response sheet that I use for everything. I typically print 100 response sheets at a time and keep them in a basket so they are easily accessible to students. Having my test and quiz materials prepared this way, saves me time at the copier AND saves me time grading as the response sheets are much easier to grade than flipping from page to page in a test packet.
No one likes waking up early, but I have found it is worth it due to the amount of time I can save. I try to arrive at school no later than 6:45 a.m. every morning. There are only a few other teachers working at this time compared with after school when most teachers are working. Therefore, there is seldom other people vying to use the copy machine. Also, have you noticed after school, there is usually someone who wants to stand around and talk? This is typically not the case in the mornings which makes it much easier to get work completed without interruptions. Since I began arriving to work early, I leave as soon as the students get on the bus and am able to get more work completed than waiting until the afternoon to do it.
In the past 5 years, I have been fortunate enough to have committed parent volunteers only once. But, most communities have other resources you can look to for volunteers aside from using parent volunteers. I have found my best volunteers to be college education students. There is a university near the school where I work. At the beginning of each semester, I email someone from their education department to see if they have any students who would like to volunteer in my classroom. Education students are great because not only can they help with copying and grading but they also want to help work one-on-one with students and lead centers. If you do not have a university near you, all high schools and colleges have various clubs and honor societies that are required to perform a certain amount of community service each semester. Student volunteers have been a tremendous help to me and I cannot imagine my classroom without them!
Making copies is just one of the many tedious jobs teachers have. Some schools are moving to more computerized forms of work and assessments but, unfortunately, many schools do not have the funding to put computers in the hands of all students, all the time. These are just a few strategies I have found to cut down on the tedious job of copying, so that I have more time for what really matters; planning and working with students!