I have talked to numerous teachers to find out what they think every teacher should have. These teachers teach all over the US, have various levels of experience, and teach in a range of SES schools. It was fun talking to all kinds of teachers and seeing the things that they all had in common as far as necessities go!
Some of the things on this list are more student geared, but a lot of them are seriously sanity-savers for us teachers!
Here are the top 13 tools of the teaching trade that you should definitely have in your classroom!
1. Plastic Containers/Bins
There are so many uses for plastic containers and bins. They can really help you keep your classroom managed and organized. Some of my favorite uses for plastic are Monday-Friday bins for sorting papers, buckets for sharpened and unsharpened pencils, and a mailbox for passing back student papers. And a solid perk to plastic over fabric is that it is easy to clean!
2. Seat Pockets
These handy things are perfect if you have limited space in any way. If you have tables instead of desks, they are good for your students school supplies. Or if you have desks but no room for book boxes, the seat pockets can store your students’ books for independent reading.
These photos are courtesy of Mrs. Richardson’s Class.
3. Electric Pencil Sharpener
Whether you will be the only one using it or if your kiddos will be using it, too, you absolutely need a good-quality pencil sharpener that is going to be able to handle sharpening pencils for 20-25 people on a regular basis.
4. Personal Laminator/Pouches
This is hands-down the BEST thing I’ve ever bought for my classroom. I bought my Scotch laminator over 4 years ago and it is still going strong. (I hope… I actually just realized I might want to buy another one just in case!) I use my personal laminator all the time! Our school laminator doesn’t always work and sometimes we run out of the film and it takes 3 months to replace. So with this you are able to laminate anything up to 8.5×11.5 whenever you want!
5. Flair Pens
Flair pens are just plain fun. They come in bright colors and they are felt tip so the ink flows nicely! They don’t usually bleed through pages unless you just hold it there for a long time.
6. Chart Paper
Chart paper is a great tool for creating anchor charts to hang around the room. It is also a fun way to have students show what they know by giving them a piece of their own and letting them go for it!
You are going to need somewhere to conveniently write on your chart paper! Seriously, my easel is a life saver. Easels can be used to show students big books and poetry charts for shared reading. They are also good for doing modeled and interactive writing. I love that my easel is front and center and it is easy for my students to all see from their spots on the carpet.
8. Mr. Sketch Markers
These are a must for making anchor charts! I feel like they look so much better than the Crayola markers… plus they are scented!! I used one pack for all of last year. They lasted me a long time even with my using them almost every day.
9. Avery Address Labels
These can be used for everything!! Use them for student supplies- when you get your list make a whole sheet for one student & then slap a sticker on everything they bring you! You can also leave a set in your sub tub so that the students can have nametags on sub days. Or, type up a quick reminder about the PTA meeting or the yearbook sale and put one on each kids’ shirt before they go home. I buy 2 packages at the beginning of the year and use them all up!
10. Sticky Notes
I can’t get enough sticky notes! I hoard them at school, home and in my teacher bag! Having a stockpile of colorful sticky notes is a good idea because you never know when you will need to jot down a to-do list or to send a note to a teammate. My kids also love it when I pass out sticky notes for them to write their thoughts. You would think that I gave them a puppy when they get to use sticky notes!
11. Go Noodle/Brain Breaks
This one is as much for you as it is your students. If you haven’t heard of Go Noodle before then let me enlighten you! This amazing tool is a free resource for fun and engaging videos, songs, dances, chants, and exercises to get your students up and moving. It gets their blood pumping and they just go wild for it! It’s beneficial for you, too, because it gives you a minute to take a break as well.
12. Comfortable Chair
If you don’t already have one of these, you totally need one. I actually have 2- one at my teacher table where I see my small groups and one at my whole group area for when I read aloud to my students. We are on our feet most of the day, so when we sit down it needs to be comfortable and supportive!
I know, this one is pretty obvious. But most of the teachers I talked to mentioned this! And I have to agree. You know how the Snicker’s commercial says “You’re not you when you’re hungry”? Well, I’m not a good teacher when I’m un-caffeinated. Sometimes it is coffee and sometimes it is soda… but either way, I have to have it! Preferably over ice and in a cute cup.