October 27

Four Ways to Keep Students Responsible

Being a high school teacher, we all have our own way of getting and staying organized in our classrooms, professional, and personal lives. It looks different for each of us. Some teachers stay organized through organized chaos. Others, like myself, have systems of organization that we rely on to get us through our days.

What I do to stay organized is completely different than most of my colleagues. At some point, they have each come in my room to look around and see what I do and possibly implement some of my ideas into their own classrooms.

So let’s get started and go over some of my systems to see if any might be helpful for you as well.

Here are four ways I stay organized while also keeping students responsible for themselves.

#1) Student Station

One area of my classroom that gets its own space is the Student Station. This is an area where students can go for everything they need in my room. Things like turn in drawers, markers, pens/pencils, paper, scissors/glue, tissues, extra handouts, hand sanitizer, etc.

These are things that students ask me about ALL.THE.TIME. These are things that I don’t want students asking me about all.the.time. I want them to problem solve and be independent learners. So I set up a station where all of these things reside so students can self-serve when needed.



#2) Daily Agenda

When students walk into my classroom, they will see a synopsis of the daily agenda written on the whiteboard in the front of the classroom. While they may not always know exactly what the items are that are listed, they will be able to see at a glance what the plan is for the day. This agenda is also posted in a weekly format on my classroom website (see item #3).

A typical daily agenda may look something like this:






  • The day and date are prominently displayed at the top.
  • Our “Do This” section is a snapshot of what we plan to do in class that day.
  • The “Deadlines” section is a reminder of any upcoming assignment or project deadlines.
  • Beneath the Deadlines section will be additional items I need them to remember or homework posted.
  • Finally, there is a “Remember” section where I will put any important reminders.

#3) Daily Bell Work

I have various things we do as bell work. The main purpose of the bell work is to get students in a daily routine of entering the classroom and immediately getting to work. It allows me time to do housekeeping tasks (taking attendance, glancing at important emails, answering lingering questions, etc.).

Mondays are Motivational Mondays that include a quick video intended to get our day and week started in a positive direction. I find these using a simple Google search and use lots of Steve Harmon “On the Road” quick videos.

Tuesday-Thursday are journal days. When students arrive in the classroom, they are presented with a journal prompt projected on the whiteboard for them to immediately respond to in their online journals. No questions. No talking. Journals are meant to be their ideas and responses to be interpreted in whatever way they desire. After 5 minutes of writing (with a minimum line count for assessment purposes), we typically discuss their thoughts.

Fridays are First Chapter Fridays which entails me introducing a book to the class, reading the back cover, and the first chapter aloud in the hopes of getting them hooked on a new book.

#4) Classroom Website

In years past, I have utilized Weebly as my classroom website. It included various sections organized so that students and even parents could quickly navigate exactly what we are doing in the classroom each day.

My present school uses Google Classroom which is set up the same way as in the past.

The various sections include Daily Agenda, Journals (with a list of previous entries in case students need to catch up), General Classroom Resources (syllabus, cell phone policy), Membean, and the current unit of study (Of Mice and Men, The Crucible, etc.).

Having a classroom website has been a Godsend! Students learn quickly not to ask me “what did we do yesterday?” As my reply will be “have you checked the website/Google Classroom?” I refuse to answer this question! My motto: Figure it out!

These are just a few ways I stay organized in my classroom. There are many more ways that I may cover in a future post that have more to do with organizing myself, my files, teacher desk and space.