During my first year of teaching, I made the mistake of not sending enough graded work home and some parents were shocked during conference time when they saw their child’s grades. I learned a huge lesson from that year. Grades should never be a surprise on conference night. And so, I was on a mission to figure out a system that was easy for me and for my kids to implement to ensure enough work was going home to keep parents apprised and aware of grades, while at the same time, keeping enough work at school go over during conferences. These class mailboxes were the answer! I included direct links to my labels as well as Amazon Affiliate links to the bins I used for your convenience. If you use my link, I receive a very small commission for referring you over to Amazon.
How our mailboxes work:
We collect work samples in these bins. One week all graded work goes home, and the following week, my students file their work in these mailboxes. Come conference time, lots of work samples are ready to go!
By sending home graded work every other week, parents have an opportunity to see how their child is progressing. Saving work on the alternating weeks provides material to discuss during our parent teacher conference. Therefore, the grades on the report card will not come as a surprise to any parent since they’ve been seeing graded work every other week.
Last Minute Meeting Life SAVERS
These are also lifesavers when you get those last minute IEP meetings. I’ve been stuck in those situations where a meeting is scheduled for the same week and I have no work. I’m left scrambling to find anything I can to bring to our meetings. That no longer happens because there are always work samples in these bin ready to go.
This teacher does NOT enjoy filing, but did you know that all my kids love it? I pass out the work and each child files away their own papers. If time doesn’t permit, a classroom helper takes care of it! I’m a big fan of ideas that don’t require extra work for the teacher.
There were some questions I received on IG when I posted about this idea.
- Do you only place graded work here?
- Yes, pretty much just graded work. If I notice something on non-graded classwork that would be worth holding onto, I’ll also place it in there. Other good things to place in our mailboxes are behavior plans, IEP notes, intervention notes, tardy passes, etc. Anything that you might need down the road.
- Where are the bins from?
- You can get them from multiple places. I found that the most reasonable place is Amazon. They sell them in sets of four with free Prime delivery. Click on the image below to check them out.
- How do you attach the labels?
- I attach them using double sided tape from Scotch and sticky dots. I made a video if you’d like to see how I do this.
- Where is this cubby system from?
- We are fortunate to have these built into our wall. When I didn’t have these, I put the bins along our countertop. I’ve also seen teachers put them on the floor or in cubbies from Ikea or Target.
- What if parents want all graded work going home?
- I haven’t had a problem with this in the years I’ve been using this system. If I did have parents asking about this, I would let them know at the beginning of the year of my plans for graded work so that they know what to expect going home. If you have a parent that prefers all work to go home, it might be good to photocopy this work or maybe that parent is fine with not having work samples during parent conference time. Another idea might be to send all the work home and have that child return certain samples after the parents have taken a look at everything. I prefer options that don’t require copies and wasting paper. This might be the perfect idea for those families. The key is to communicate with parents.
- How about a filing cabinet or filing bin?
- I recommend filing cabinets/bins if you have a smaller classroom.
- Why not binders?
- I’ve tried binders. First of all sturdy binders that last the whole year aren’t cheap. My kids took a long time opening and closing them every single time to put their work in there. By the end of the year the binders were ready to be tossed so I ended up giving them to the kids to take home and then had to replace them for the next year. The bins can be kept forever and they hold up well even when children aren’t careful with them.
Our mailboxes are just so easy for us. Each child’s name and image is on the front and there is no way to get confused. Plus, they are so stinkin’ cute. My kids love being able to use their mailbox.
If you would like to get a set of these labels (they include over 400 choices of kid clip art), you can pick them up by clicking on the image below: