In Praise of Labels
One thing you will quickly notice as a teacher is how often you wear your arm out writing repetative information. For instance, the names of your students, your own name in a books you have bought and the words, “please sign and return.” Not only is this a dull task, it is time-consuming as well.
Might I suggest labels? I use labels in my classroom that say, “Ms. Jackson’s classroom library” on all the books I buy for my classroom, as well as any resource or professional development books. This has saved me hours of time. I place the labels inside the front cover of each book. I never have to wonder about whether a book is mine or someone else’s. Parents know who to return each book to as well. I have had children take a book home and lose it, only to have a younger sibling return it to me three or four years later. This also encourages students to put their names in their own books; this saves time during book-fair week. You won’t have to research which book belongs to which student if they have put their names on what they buy. You could even make labels that say, “_________’s Library.” They can just write their names in the blank.
We used to write all the books of our current curriculum on each and every cum file each and every year. Ugh! I did that once. The next year, I had labels that I had made up to fit into the space. I stuck one on each folder and was done in a heartbeat. Administration liked them because they were easy to read. Pretty soon, every teacher was making labels for their cum folders. Your school may not require you to do this task. Things change all the time in education. The point is that it was a burdensome task, easily achieved through a computer label.
You do not have to have the exact size labels for what you are doing. Sometimes you can cut a label in half on a paper cutter. Also, look for label templates already set up in your word processing programs. They are set up by manufacturer and type with a code number that should be printed on the label package. There should also be an outline on plain paper in your label package. Print your labels out on plain paper first, then lay the print out over this template. Hold it to the light and you will be able to see if your labels line up properly before you print on the actual labels. If you have any trouble with this, see if you can talk to the school secretary. I am betting she or he knows exactly how to make and print out labels.
Another cool fact is that you can usually run your labels through the school copier. Put a red x on a piece of paper. The x represents the printable side of the labels. Place your plain paper printout for your labels on the copier glass and load your paper with the red x into the paper tray with the red x up. If the words come out printed on the same side as the red x, place your labels in the paper tray label side up. If the words came out on the side without the red x, place your labels in the paper tray label side down. Do a single label sheet test run to start, just to be sure. If they come out right, run as many as you like. You may have to move your original slightly up or down on the glass for good label alignment.
Once you get the hang of making labels, I guarantee you will find all sorts of uses for them. The original pain of learning how to make them will be well worth the time you save.
In Praise of Labels