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Here are a few tips for getting the most from your classroom accessories. You will quickly learn the importance (and associated stress) of having an adequate supply of whiteboard markers. You can ensure that yours are always nearby by attaching a strip of velcro to the side of your whiteboard, and a little to each pen for safe storage. (An added tip: if you keep your pens facing downwards, the ink will last longer.) You can also glue a little craft pom-pom to the end of them to create handy erasers and, let's be honest, a way to identify them in case any sticky-fingered colleagues come creeping.
Everything to hand
If your room isn't overly blessed with storage (or you'd just rather have everything nearby than in a drawer) invest in a cheap hanging shoe rack that you can repurpose as a handy storage unit.
An old-fashioned kitchen timer can also be put to use in helping students manage their time in class. There are plenty of online timers available for this too, but a low-cost ticking version will do the job just as well.
There are plenty of other kitchen items that can be given a new lease of life in your classroom – lining a baking tray with colourful paper makes a great place for pupils to submit their homework.
An alternative for storing pens, pencils and rulers is to use old jam jars, which you can decorate and label if you're feeling crafty. This means you can keep everything separate and tidy, and save yourself valuable time scrabbling around in a pencil case.
Hitting the mark
AliqIf you want to save time on marking – of course you do, everyone does – get some rubber stamps with positive and negative phrases. They will let students know that you have seen their work, without having to write the same thing 30 times.
Individual whiteboards can be incredibly useful learning tools, but if your department doesn't have enough for each student, you can easily make your own. Old DVD cases with white paper underneath the cover work well, as do plastic plates.
Classroom displays can be a great way of boosting engagement, and if you want your students to understand how relevant your subject is, try creating a space dedicated to "Our subject in the news". You can cut out clippings from newspapers, and print stories from online – you could ask students to contribute too. And if you want some cool artwork for your walls but don't want to spend a fortune on posters, there are programmes online such as The Rasterbator which allow you to print huge posters (made up of A4 sheets) of any image of your choice.
This article is taken from the EdCentral Alternative Student Teacher Manual, which is available to download now for free.