Back-to-School Teacher Essentials

2016-09-16-bts-teacher-essentialsSo it is definitely that time of year. My school has been in session for a few weeks now, and we are all still getting into the swing of things. The teacher in the room next to me is shared by two brand new teachers. They have come by my room a number of times looking for suggestions on what they need for their classroom.

The reality is that all teachers new or experienced know the basics. We all know that you need bulletin board borders, punch out letters, sticky tack, post-it notes, a pencil sharpener, red pens, file folders, and on and on the list goes.

As my new neighbors were asking a few questions, it reminded me of those first few days of school when you realize you are still missing a few items.

Here are sixteen totally random items that you absolutely need for back-to-school. This is for new and experienced teachers.

  1. Scotch Titanium Scissors – Every teacher is going to spend a substantial amount of time cutting things. Don’t ask me why, but we all do it. I teach high school history and I still manage to spend a substantial amount of time cutting things. Do yourself a favor and buy yourself some great scissors! These babies can slice through hundreds of pages without going dull. They also work really well for thicker types of paper, like laminated posters, labels, cardstock, and more.
  2. Adhesive Dot Magnets – This was one of those items that I totally splurged on because I was trying to reach a spending goal for a decent discount. (That makes it a savings, right?) I don’t use the magnets all the time, but they are so handy. I love putting these on the back of posters to stick on my chalkboard. I have put magnets on bulletin board borders to outline a door frame or my desk or the chalkboard. There are a million unexpected applications for the magnet dots.
  3. Good Pens – Teachers write a lot. Whether notes to our students or parents (or administration), or grading and rubrics, a pen is likely going to spend a lot of time in your hand. I am personally a fan of the cheap medium Bic Round Stick pens, but I know teachers who prefer to use only G2 Gel Pens. Whatever you like to write with, stock up on those pens and have them handy.
  4. X-acto Knife – This is one of those items that I didn’t expect to need, but once I started using it, I was so glad I had it. These knives are necessary for the ultimate teacher art-project: our ever-changing classroom decor. I build my own bulletin boards because of financial restrictions and I like them to look sharp. As a result, I put a lot of time and effort into them. An x-acto knife has been a lifesaver on multiple occasions.
  5. Water Bottles – No, I do not mean the refillable kind. I mean the cheap plastic water bottles that you buy in a 32 pack at the grocery store. I know they aren’t very environmentally friendly, but when your refillable water bottle is empty and class isn’t over for another twenty minutes and you have a meeting immediately after, you NEED water and you NEED that water now. I always have a stash of two or three bottles in my desk. Not only I am prepared for my own emergency, but if something outrageous happens with a student, I have water in my desk. It makes me feel more prepared.
  6. Spare Cell Phone Charger – It’s gotten to the point where I had to label mine because my fellow teachers kept borrowing my iPhone charger. This is a lifesaver. I do attendance on my phone, check emails, take notes on student behavior, manage my to-do list, and scan multiple documents daily. There have been days when I thought my phone was fully charged and it very much was not. That could be a disaster! An additional benefit – my cell phone charger also charges my iPad. 🙂
  7. A Spare Tote Bag – Every once in a while, I need to take an unusually massive load of books and papers home. I have my regular day-to-day bag for my laptop, grade book, and a few other items, but this bag won’t hold multiple textbooks, dozens of papers, or a desk-full of Christmas presents from my students. A spare tote bag has helped with those rare occasions and made it a little easier to carry all the extra stuff.
  8. Snacks – Along the same vein as the water bottles, sometimes lunch time cannot come soon enough. A few nutritious snacks are just an encouragement. But the reality is I just need something to get me through until lunch or dinner so I don’t get all hangry on my students. I have a problem… I know. 🙂
  9. Hand Sanitizer – No need to expound on this one. We all have that one student.
  10. Clorox Wipes – Just like the hand sanitizer, we all have that one student.
  11. Sharpies – Things need labeled. Pens don’t cut it.
  12. Cords to Hardwire Technology – every school is a little different with their technology requirements or expectations. My school provides TVs, Apple TVs, and iPads and expects the teachers to use these items regularly. The only small problem is that they want us to connect the iPad to the Apple TV using the school’s wifi. But with multiple teachers using the same router to access the internet, results in terribly slow internet. Not to mention all of the student’s devices that are pinging the same router, even if they aren’t connecting. I can’t rely on the wifi to stream a video in class or even play through a presentation. So no matter your situation, I strongly recommend you have any necessary cords and adapters to hardwire your devices. Trust me, you do not want to plan on using the device for an entire class period only to find out it isn’t working.
  13. Blank Cards for Birthdays, Thank yous, etc. – Sometimes I just forget that it was a co-workers birthday or that I still haven’t written that thank you card. Sometimes my fellow teachers are having a really bad day and need a note of encouragement. Having a little stack of cards stashed in my desk is just useful.

Well, that’s all I can think of for now. Hope you are enjoying your school year and now you feel a little more prepared.


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