20 brilliant teacher hacks for the classroom


Creativity | Thursday, August 19, 2021

20 brilliant teacher hacks for the classroom

Teachers are nothing less than incredible, creative, brilliant people. They find ways to solve problems in ways that are not only ingenious but also usually pretty cheap!

We call these "teacher hacks".

We might define a teacher hack as a unique, sometimes creative, not "by the book" way to solve a problem and there are tons out there.

So what are some of the best teacher hacks? And where can we find more?

During a weekly #DitchBook Twitter chat, we discussed these questions and more. The #Ditchbook community share tons of great ways to solve problems and save time using some really creative ideas! 

  • We also have sprinkled even more links to great teacher hacks throughout this post. Look for the ✨ for bonus ideas!
  • Click on the person's name next to "shared by" to see the original tweet. It may have photos or links, and you can follow them on Twitter!

20 brilliant teacher hacks for the classroom and where you can find more.

1. Use breath mint cans for pushpin storage

I use breath mint cans to hold pushpins. I take pictures of anything that I've organized well in August because by September it's a wreck. I save the pictures in Google Keep or Wakelet to refer back to when I'm buried under chaos.

Shared by: Stacey Joy

2. Charge your Chromebooks in a dish rack.

Use a dish rack, plastic white ones, to hold Chromebooks for charging. You can find these at the Dollar Store!

Shared by: Dawn Frier

3. Save old lunch containers for storage.

Use old lunch meat containers to store things like ELA or math task cards. You can also use them to store manipulatives or other supplies.

Shared by: Felicia Bowles

4. Bring back the fanny pack!

If you move around from class to class or teach PE you need an easily accessible place for your stuff like keys, phone, first aid supplies, pencil, and maybe a notebook right? A fanny pack, you can call it a teacher pouch if you'd like, would be the perfect solution!

Shared by: Lizzie McManus

5. Save the sanitizer

Wrap a rubber band around the pumping dispenser of a hand sanitizer bottle to keep the pump from going all the way down and squirting out too much.

Looking for more ideas like this? Check out Classroom Hacks: The Rubber Band Control Valve and the Duct Tape Anti-Clicker

Shared by: Karly Moura

6. Cut microfiber cloths in half to use as whiteboard erasers.

Get the dollar store microfiber cloths and cut in half or in fourths to use as whiteboard erasers. Want to get extra fancy? Hot glue a magnet onto it and keep it on your whiteboard so that you never lose your eraser again.

Shared by: Dawn Frier

7. Use disposable plastic plates as personal whiteboards.

The Dollar Store is a hot spot for finding great supply hack resources! Try getting a stack of plastic plates to have on hand as extra personal whiteboards.

✨Need MORE Dollar Store hacks? Check out The BIG List of Dollar Store Hacks for Teachers from We Are Teachers.

Shared by: Laura Steinbrink

8. Clean up with... Play-Doh?

Play-doh can do double duty as glitter clean up! Have an extra container on hand just for this purpose. It makes all of those glittery art projects seem less scary. Plus now you have cool glitter play-doh!

Want some more great Play-doh fun and ideas? Check out our FREE course Creating a Playful Classroom with Jed Dearybury.

Shared by:  Laura Steinbrink

9. Sort students all year long with index cards.

Index cards are a must have supply in every teacher's classroom. You can use blank cards for exit tickets, play a game of Hed Banz, or create your own flashcards. Mandi Tolen uses index cards in a clever way to sort her students into different collaborative groups all year long.

Read how to sort kids with index cards AND get a copy of her pre-made sorting cards in her post Collaborative Group Sorting Cards.

Shared by: Mandi Tolen

10. Store pencils in a straw holder.

Sharpen your pencils ahead of time and keep them somewhere easy to access. You can put them in a straw holder and keep near your work station.

11. Use IKEA spice racks as book display shelves.

These super cheap spice racks from IKEA make GREAT display shelves to show off your favorite classroom library books and get kids excited about reading.

Shared by: Karly Moura

12. Revive old whiteboard markers with physics.

Tie a string around the end of an old whiteboard marker and spin it overhead to get the ink flowing back to the tip. Just be careful! If you hit something you could end up with ink all over your walls as M Adkins warns us.

Don't want to risk the potential ink splatter? Try these other ideas too.

Shared by: Dawn Frier

13. Keep an extra of... everything!

Sean Fahey keeps his own teacher "go-bag" handy with an extra pair of pants, shirt, snacks, coffee, water and supplies in case of emergency. As teachers we know how many unplanned surprises there can be each day!

Shared by:  Sean Fahey

14. Number your chairs for easy sorting.

Put numbers on the back of your students chairs. That number can be used for all sorts of things like finding their own slide in a collaborative slides presentation or spreadsheet!

Try this idea with lots of different collaborative activities! Check out 30 collaborative Google Apps activities for schools for more.

Shared by: Matt Miller

15. Cut notebooks in half for short responses or exit tickets.

Sometimes those composition books barely get filled up! We end up with lots of blank pages. Ask your local Office Depot or Home Depot to cut your notebooks in half for you. You'll have smaller, more manageable writing space for half the price.

Shared by: M Adkins

16. Wakelet for the organization win!

Wakelet is a great way to organize the things you want to refer back to later. Try using the Wakelet extension to organize all of your tabs into one collection.

Here is a fun idea from Rayna Freedman: Use Wakelet to make a collection of Ted Talks for students to listen to at a center. You can share your collection with a QR code for easy access too.

Shared by: Rayna Freedman

17. Keep your class outline on your desk or desktop for easy reference.

Keep a doc with your year outline handy. Either print it out and keep it on your desk or create a shortcut to it on your desktop for easy access. It will help keep you on track and save time when planning future lessons.

Shared by: Zachary Hamby

18. Use emojis and colors to label your Google Drive folders.

Using a color coding system in Google Drive will help keep all of those files organized. Looking for a way to REALLY step up your Google Drive organization game? Use emojis at the beginning of your folder names for easy access to specific files.

19. Become a master at shortcuts.

Keyboard shortcuts are a lifesaver and can save you so much time throughout the year. 

Use a cheatsheet to help yourself remember all of those shortcuts. You can find a printable one in our post 22 killer keyboard shortcuts (and a challenge!) for busy educators.

Shared by: Tim Needles

20. Use Book Source to scan your books in and out

JodiLyn likes to organize her class library by genre or series but she uses @Booksource to scan her books in and out. They even have an app that for your phone so you can check to see all the titles when shopping at a garage sale or second hand store and avoid doubles.

Our favorite teacher hack follows

The Merrills Edu

Kristin and Joe Merrill have a ton of great hacks for the classroom. Check out their videos for lots of fun and useful ideas.


There is an Instagram account that includes some awesome hacks for the classroom. You can also search Instagram for the #TeacherHacks for even more.

Bored Teachers Pinterest Page

Bored Teachers has a Pinterest page FULL of awesome hacks for the classroom.

The #Ditchbook community!

There are tons of amazing ideas being shared all of the time on Twitter! Check out the recommended follows from our recent chat and share your ideas in the comments below.

For notifications of new Ditch That Textbook content and helpful links:

Are you looking for quality, meaningful professional learning that both equips and inspires teachers?

Matt provides in-person and virtual keynotes, workshops and breakout sessions that equip, inspire and encourage teachers to create change in their classrooms. Teachers leave with loads of resources. They participate. They laugh. They see tech use and teaching in a new light. Click the link below to contact us and learn how you can bring Matt to your school or district!

Is Matt presenting near you soon? Check out his upcoming live events!

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