- I removed all pencil sharpeners from the room and just left out a box of sharpened pencils by the door. We've all dealt with the pencil fight. Students should bring their own pencils. They do not. We want them to learn responsibility. I get that. But one year there were three staff meetings in a row that I had to lend a writing utensil to a co-worker. You know what? Even in the "real world," a great many people don't take responsibility for their own pencils, and I am not going to fix that problem with my own personal classroom war. Also, I hate pencil sharpeners. 99% of them are total garbage. And they're an excuse for students to walk around, talk to their friends, create a distraction, etc. Just accept that part of your salary will always go to pencils and move on with life.
- I refused to accept any individual assignments. Students love to throw assignments on your desk, in the wrong tray, in your hands, in their friends' hands hoping they will somehow get into your hands... enough. I had students keep all of their work in their folders, and only graded what was in their folders. That way it was completely on them to keep track of their papers, and completely the end of "you must have lost it," which was never true anyway. (More about my folder system here - I. LOVE. IT.)
- Students received two hall passes per quarter, no questions asked, but no more than that. It really ticked me off when a kid would decide that my class was their bathroom class. Or when one kid asking to go somewhere set off a chain. So, at the beginning of each quarter I stapled two passes into their folder (again, love the folder system). They could use them for whatever and almost whenever they wanted, but once they were gone, they were gone, and if they had an "emergency" they would owe me a detention. At the end of the term unused passes could be redeemed for some teeny tiny reward. Excluding medical conditions, no one should need more than four passes a semester, and in fact after implementing this most kids didn't even use one. Problem solved!
What "Next year I will" promises have been big successes for you? I'm sure others would love some suggestions!