Many a time, I’ve lost valuable time in school due to too much dependence on the school’s administrative staff, machines or tools. I’d have to sacrifice my break time in between lessons, rushing off to the printing room to get my printed worksheets or going over to the resource center to laminate, bind, cut papers, print, scan and the list goes on and on. By the time I finish doing all those, the break time is over and I have to rush back to class. My mug of coffee went ‘undrunk’ and my books left unmarked.
So, this article is about how to maximize your time doing the necessary things and minimize your time running around looking for things. I’m giving you tips on the 5 most important and essential tools that any teacher should have to improve his/her efficiency, to manage his/her time better and to increase productivity and quality of teaching. These tools or machines do not cost thousands of dollars but they definitely can save you lots of time, effort and energy. You’ll get back your much-needed break during school hours to rest, have a chat with your colleagues, get those stack of books marked or to review your next lesson. Not only that, having these five tools, reduces your stress-level, lessens or stops any trips to the administrative office or resource center, avoids altercation with the administrative staff or other colleagues (when fighting to use the laminating machine or any other machines), and thus increases the quality of your teaching and relationships with other staffs.
A printer/scanner is a must for every teacher and especially if you have kids still in school. There is no question about it. There are many affordable printers around but one that is multi-purpose is better. Nowadays, we not only do a lot of printing, but also copying, scanning and faxing. If you only have 1 or 2 paged worksheets for 20 students, why wait in line to print in school? Just print at home and get the worksheets ready before school. You’ll save lots of time and effort. You may request the school to reimburse for paper costs but even if the school refuses, printing at home is still worth the time and effort.
Furthermore, if you have kids who are going to college, you need this particular machine more than anything else in the world. The number of forms and documents that the college and embassy requires is endless. It’ll save you a lot of headaches, pain and suffering from your already anxious mind.
As to the different brands of printer, I’ve used a couple of brands before like Epson, HP and Brother. I personally prefer Epson like the one shown below. At $259.98, it is an all-in-one printer.
2) Laminating Machine or Laminator
A laminating machine is a device that laminates or covers a document or other material with a thin layer of clear plastic for protection on both sides. The layers of plastic is heat-bonded to the paper or document and confers increased strength, durability and longevity to it. You can laminate your class rules, your group discussion rules, certificates, self-made bookmarks, learning cards, flash cards, reading cards, math cards, drawings, files, photos and many other important stuffs. Laminating these items can save you lots of money and time because you can reuse them year after year due to its durability and easy to clean plastic layer. Besides using it for the classroom, you can use it to laminate your own certificates, recipes, your kids certificates, drawings, or essays.
- These are some of the classroom stuffs that I laminated.
- I bought a ‘Deli’ laminator (because it was the only laminating machine sold in my town) that can laminate all sizes from A5 to A3 and photo. It has been very, very useful to me and has saved me lots of time and effort.
- If you are looking for better brands, 3M and Scotch offer a few different models. Choose the one that can laminate different sized documents or items. You will not regret it. Some models come with free laminating pouches or films. My Deli laminator above can only laminate documents of 3 mil thickness. The Scotch laminator can laminate up to 5 mil thickness which is better. At $32.93, it is actually a good buy.
3) Colored papers
These are important in any classroom. See – kids love colors. They’ll start paying attention whenever I said I’m going to give out colored papers to them. Sometimes I let them choose the color they want. Sometimes I don’t. Either way, they will always be excited to have colored papers to work on – a summary, character sketch, a short opinion piece, book review, film review, story review – anything will work great on colored papers. Even high school students will respond excitedly to colored papers. The luminous colors are their favorites. If you don’t want to fork out much money, you can just tell them to prepare a packet of multi-colored papers and bring them to school every day or they can put them in the class’s resource cupboard. I do that and the response is positive.
Selling at Amazon.com for $14.79 only.
Pupils can also purchase colored papers in a book form. The papers are much thicker and you can use it to make cards. The book below costs $5.49 only.
4) Paper cutters
Having a paper cutter would save a lot of time if you are teaching lower levels (Elementary or lower Middle School) because some of these students do not know how to cut or how to cut neatly. It will also save your classroom time as you can prepare your materials by cutting at home or during your break time. You can even elicit help from your children as most paper cutters can be adjusted to the required sizes. Most paper cutters can cut 10 pieces at one time but there are others which can cut 20 or 30 pieces at one time. But for me, one consideration I would take into account is the bulkiness of the item. Some paper cutters can cut many pieces but it is extremely heavy and bulky. You would want something small, light and compact so that you can easily put it in your bag and bring it to school if you have to.
5) Labelling Machine
And last but not least, the labeling machine. This item is very, very handy. I used to type my students names in tables, (yes, all 30 or 40 of them per class), laminate them and cut one piece by one piece so that I could put double sided tape and tape it to their books or cupboards or desks. The printing, laminating and cutting takes a lot of time. With a labelling machine, I can just type in the name, and the adhesive label is ready for use. The labeling machine below comes with colored labels. It costs $59.98.
A standard non-colored label maker is half the price at $24.99…….
and a hand-held labeling machine costs about $10.
So these are the five essential tools that I strongly recommend for any teacher to have. With more tools at hand, you are better equipped to prepare your lessons on time, have more time in your hand and able to maintain your sanity as well as your stress level.