Tips for Managing and Handing Back Papers in the Classroom

Do you ever feel like you're drowning under a mountain of students' papers? Sometimes, as a teachers, it feels like we're constantly shuffling and sorting papers. I don't know about you, but after creating a lesson plan and grading students' work, it feels like getting the papers back to students can be a serious hassle. There has to be a better way! And...good news...there is! 

I surveyed a group of dynamic teachers about how they manage and hand back students' papers in their classroom. They came back with some awesome ideas! Check them out...

Setting up a central system of mailboxes is a great way to get materials back to students. Jennifer F. sets up a mailbox for each student. Then, she has a "mail person" as one of her classroom jobs. She just places graded work in a basket labeled "to be delivered," and the mail person sticks it in their classmates' mailboxes. 

Other teachers that use mailboxes noted that they place any work with grades on them in the mailboxes themselves and have a student "mail" all other papers.

Mailboxes aren't just for the elementary classroom, either. I used them successfully in my middle school classroom for years!

I love this fun spin on a typically boring task...handing back papers. In Kelly G's class, she puts on dance music once a week and students get all of their papers passed out while dancing around the classroom. Kids enjoy this because they're up and moving, and enlisting everyone's help means that it goes super fast.

Oh, and wouldn't this be fun to do this with an audio book or a read aloud? Imagine reading Wonder by R.J. Palacio while students help to pass out papers. Wouldn't that be sweet?

Google Classroom is a great way to keep track of everything in the classroom. Christine W. tries to have everything in Google Classroom. Google Classroom is nice because teachers can easily send feedback to each student on assignments. Another bonus is accessibility. Teachers can access and assess students' work from any mobile device. Oh, and that means that students can check out how they did on an assignment from anywhere too! Skip handing back papers all together and just go paperless!

Alyse A. sets up a plastic bin for hanging file folders. Each file folder has a number on it. The numbers correlate with the numbers that she gives students at the beginning of the year. Then, she has a "secretary" classroom job who files the completed work in the hanging file folders.

Dawn Z. uses folders to organize students' work, too. She has a designated "Homework Hot Spot" in the back of the classroom. Students hand their work in their numbered pocket. This makes it super easy to see if anyone hasn't turned in their work. Then, when it comes time to hand back graded papers, a student helper grabs the papers out of hanging folders in numerical order, making it quick business to hand back work.

Designating a specific time each day or class period is a great way to get a handle on students' papers. Bell work or morning work is a perfect time to hand back papers. While students are quietly working on the daily challenge, you or a fast finisher can hand back papers. 

Beth O. passes out work during bell ringers and she said that rotating around the room while handing back papers makes it easy to check in on how students are doing on their bell work, too.

Hanging a folder pocket chart or putting together magnetized plastic folders can help keep work that needs to be passed out in order. Students can easily "hand in" their work by placing it in the pocket chart or collect their work once its graded and placed in their chart.

If you're looking for helpers to place work in the pocket chart, you can always make it a classroom job or even offer a volunteer a "free" answer on the next test for helping to sort out graded work. 

Make handing back papers super fast by creating group folders or baskets for students to hand their work in. Then, as you grade the work, just stick it back in the group's folder. Simply give the folder back to the group and they can quickly grab their graded assignments. 


Well, there you have it, some easy ways to manage and hand back students' papers. I hope you've found something that can work in your classroom. If you have any other ideas, be sure to share them in the comments below.

Thanks so much for stopping by!
Mary Beth

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