Gmail is more than just an inbox....
Tools within Gmail
Gmail, in its original state, has numerous tools to assist with workflow.  From conversation view and starring messages to vacation responder and signatures, the settings of Gmail has numerous helpful options.  Additionally, Gmail offers filters, labels, and folders as a way to organize mail so that it is easily accessible.  

To check out all of the features of Gmail- click on the settings gear and explore the numerous tabs along the top. 

Gmail Labs
Canned Responses:  If you find yourself repeatedly writing the same email- consider using Canned Responses.  Canned Responses allows you to type a message and save it as a template for future use.
Send & Archive: Send your message and archive the thread in one click- keeping your inbox clean and tidy!
Undo Send:  This great tool can build in a predetermined time frame (5, 10, or 20 seconds) to change your mind on an email that you just sent by providing you with an "undo" button that retracts the email.

Labs offers lots of other great tools, including right-side chat, multiple inboxes, pictures in chat, unread message icon, etc.  You can check them out by accessing settings in Gmail and then clicking on the Labs tab.

Plugins for Gmail
Email is a time consuming task within the daily operation of a classroom/office.  The key to managing email faster and more efficiently is to not allow your inbox to overwhelm you!

Generic Gmail settings are great an get the job done, however, a whole other world exists with third-party extensions or plugins.  Check out the link below which gives and overview of some of the plugins that maximize the power of Gmail which it comes to improving your workflow.

CLICK HERE for maximizing Gmail.