Simplify Attendance and Grade Entry

When I was a first year teacher, I observed one of the P.E. teachers at my school as she marked students present on her roster. Instead of checkmarks, she used dots for present students. I adopted this shortcut immediately and developed it further into my own shorthand for my gradebook. Although my district requires electronic entry of attendance and grades, I still prefer to maintain a paper version for quick reference (e.g. grading student work while waiting for an appointment or showing a missing assignment to a student while walking around my classroom).

TIP #1: When entering student attendance data on your attendance sheet (download for FREE in my store), use a single dot to indicate if a student is present or a circle if the student is absent. AttendanceCodesI then code the dot with “ED” if a student has early dismissal or I’ll fill in the circle with “TE” for Tardy-Excused or “TU” for Tardy-Unexcused.

TIP #2: When entering grades in your gradesheet (download for FREE in my store), use a single dot if a student receives full credit, the number grade if the number is less than 100%, or a circle if an assignment is not turned in. GradingCodesWhen I transfer the grades from my paper gradebook to my electronic gradebook, I highlight the circles in YELLOW so I know that I’ve entered the grade as-is. If the work is submitted within the late deadline for reduced credit but after I’ve entered the grades online, I’ll change the online grade AND use pink highlighter over the previously yellow-highlighted circle to indicate that I’ve changed the grade already.

Download my FREE rainbow-themed attendance-and-gradesheet-thumbnailAttendance and Gradesheets here at my Teachers Pay Teachers store.

What systems have you developed to help you streamline your everyday tasks?

Teacher Binder Organization Tips


My teacher binder, AKA my lifeline during the school year, contains the most important documents for my day-to-day work:

  • attendance rosters
  • student grade sheets
  • paperwork about students’ learning needs
  • students’ “All About Me” forms from the beginning of the school year
  • logs for student behavior and parent contact
  • work for absent students
  • school forms


My tips for organization:

1) Use tabbed dividers to separate the papers for each class.

table-of-contentsOn the back of the divider, I attach paperclips to the top and bottom to hold extra copies of assignments for students who are absent from class. That way, when I flip open the section for the class to take attendance, the assignment is readily available for me to hand to the student when he or she returns. Back-of-dividerBecause I teach in 3 different classrooms, it’s easier for me to hold onto handouts for my students instead of setting up a separate station in each classroom where students can go to pick up their missed work.


2) Within each class section, use brightly colored paper to divide the contents further.

Each class section in my binder is ordered:

  • Students’ attendance and grade sheets printed double-sided (FREE in my store)
  • Colored paper divider
  • Paperwork on students’ learning needs (IEPs and 504s)
  • Colored paper divider
  • Students’ “All About Me” sheets from their class syllabus
  • Colored paper divider
  • Other, for example: If a student struggles with making appropriate behavior choices, I simply jot down the date and a few notes on a piece of paper (a description of the behavior and consequences, including parent communication, if applicable), and this paper is filed with the student’s class section.
What organizational systems do you use to keep track of your student data? I would love to know your tips!

Best Advice for New Teachers in 5 Words

I have been a first-year teacher THREE times: my first real year of teaching at a middle school, my first year teaching at a high school, and my first year at the high school where I currently teach. The advice I received at a summer choral directors’ workshop after my first year in the classroom transformed my teaching:


During my first week at that wonderful middle school, I remember eagerly telling my new principal that I was SO thankful to finally have the opportunity to fulfill the dreams I’d had since I was 14 years old! As excited as I was, a part of me was disappointed because it wasn’t quite the dream job I had envisioned. Although I poured countless hours and energy into that first year, those 5 words, Bloom where you are planted, convicted me.

I couldn’t look at my job as being merely the steppingstone to something I hoped would look more like my dream job. I needed to embrace where I was, make the most of it, and give myself fully to the experience. Once I did that, I breathed more easily. I enjoyed my students even more and grew to love the middle school quirks and energy, I became less conscious of my predecessor’s shadow, and I infused more of my own personality into my teaching.

One of my former choral teachers said that the musician’s life was always about going from one big thing to the next. Concert to concert. And so forth. I believed her for a time. But really, living and teaching are not about those milestones, the concerts, the tests, etc. Living and teaching are about the moments in between. The moments where you connect with students. The moments where learning happens. The moments where the lightbulbs light up, sparkling with understanding.

I look forward to the upcoming school year and all that is familiar and beloved. Yet there is still newness: new faces, new stories, new music, new experiences, new memories to create, and new seeds- of learning, confidence, technique, skills, understanding- to plant. May those seeds bloom where they are been planted. May we all bloom where we are planted.

What’s the best advice you’ve received? How did you transfer it into your teaching?