Student Mailboxes

If there’s one important thing I’ve learned in my years teaching, it has to be the idea that we should not reinvent the wheel. And most teachers don’t – we share, borrow, tweak, and seek innovative ideas from Pinterest. If somebody else has done something successfully in his/her own classroom, I’m all for trying it with my students, as long as it’s something that meshes well with my own educational and personal value system.

My very first year of teaching I was at a loss for how to organize my students’ “stuff” without taking up a great deal of space. Space in a busy classroom with 25+ students is at a premium, so taking up a big chunk of classroom real estate is not an option for most teachers. I created a wall of mailboxes for my students using clear shoe organizers. The shoe organizers are fairly inexpensive and can be purchased at most dollar stores or department stores.


 Next, label each “mailbox slot” with students’ names. On the first day of school I take photos of all the students, then have them printed that night so they are ready the next morning. (Have extra prints of the photos made so that you will have extras on hand as you need them throughout the year.) Cut the photos so they will fit in the slots, then glue them to heavy card stock so that they are fairly durable. Lastly, laminate each card. The year I didn’t laminate the cards they lasted only until December, then were quite frayed and tattered. Laminating ensures you’ll have your cards until the last week of June.

I use the mailboxes as a way to do attendance in the morning. The photo cards are kept in a small basket beside the mailbox wall. I check for empty boxes after my students sign in in the morning, indicating to me who is absent. When students are absent, the class helper is responsible for placing missed work in the missing student’s slot. Upon return to school, a student who has been away picks up their missed class work and I don’t need to worry about who missed which assignments.

The students seem to love the sense of ownership having their own personal space creates. It’s also an asset for supply teachers coming in to a class where they may not know any of the students. This give a clear visual and quickly matches a face with a name.