5 Must-Haves for New Teachers

I know you have no money, and you won’t for a while, but here are some things you really need before you welcome your students on the first day of school.

The school should provide you with the basics: pencils, pens, highlighters, tape, a stapler, etc., but some of the bigger items may not be waiting for you in the work room when you arrive.

Some of these things your school may purchase for you, some of them may already be in your classroom when you arrive (or may be handed down to you from other teachers at your school), but some of them you may need to purchase for yourself.

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1. Storage Solutions

There are so many possibilities and the number of boxes/bins a teacher will need depends on the grade level they teach. The lower the grade, the more storage they’ll need. Clear bins are key so that you and the students can see what is inside.

I ordered the Sterilite Deep Clip Box Clear Plastic Storage Tote Container with Lid, 4 Pack. I picked these for a number of reasons. They have all 5 star reviews and they are reasonably priced. They are stack-able, which is super important to me as a teacher, and they have the handles that click the container shut so the top won’t pop off when a students picks it up. I’ve had crayons all over my room due to a container lid failure (even in 12th grade), so the click shut lids are a must.

I liked them so much I ordered some for organizing my kid’s toys at home too.

2. A daily planner book

My planner is my lifeline!

I would be LOST without my planner. A planner book is the first thing I buy at the beginning of every school year. Digital planners are great, but I need to be able to look down on my desk and see what I need do do for that day, the rest of the week, and the following weeks all in one glance.

I always get one with a spiral binding so I can lay it open flat on my desk. The kind that don’t have a spiral binding don’t lay flat well. As soon as you know you have a meeting or appointment, for school or otherwise, put in on this planner! I also like to jot out (in pencil) my unit plans so I have a sense of where I will be on what day.

3. A comfortable chair

Ball chair

You will spend a good majority of your time on your feet, but when you sit down to grade (most of which is done on the computer now) you’ll need a comfortable seat. Many schools don’t provide comfortable chairs for teachers. You can use a student chair, but those things are not comfortable at all. Sometimes whoever was in the classroom before you will leave their chair, but there is no guarantee.

I didn’t get a balance ball chair until this year and I LOVE IT! I ordered the Gaiam Classic Balance Ball Chair – Exercise Stability Yoga Ball Premium Ergonomic Chair. The only issue I’ve had is the little metal bar in the front came off (probably because I didn’t screw it in tightly enough). I lost the screws so I can’t really get it back on, but it doesn’t impact the functionality of the chair. The ball stays in place just fine without it. It came super quickly and was easy to assemble.

One problem is that the kids love it too! They are constantly asking to use it. I actually got 5 simpler ball chairs (and significantly less expensive) to provide as a seating option for my students.

I went with the Trideer Ball Chair – Exercise Stability Yoga Ball with Base for the kids. The base is key! It keeps the balls from rolling all over the room when no one is sitting on them.

4. A quality water bottle

Kathleen Trace holding a YETI water bottle

As a teacher you will do a lot of talking, which will leave you parched, and sometimes horse. You need a water bottle that can keep your beverage of choice (I like iced green tea…weird I know) cool enough to ease your dry throat. I used to go through a water bottle about every six months. They’d fall, they’d break, they didn’t keep my water cold anymore.

Two years ago I bought myself a Yeti water bottle as a back to school present to myself. It is an investment. Fifty dollars for a water bottle seemed absurd to me at first, but I’d heard such great things that I decided to treat myself.

I’m so glad I did! I’ve had it for two years now. I’m still impressed when it has ice in it at the end of the day. This thing really works and I anticipate it is going to last me for years to come.

I really like the large capacity with the ability for it to fit in my car’s cup holder. I tend to hold it at the bottom where it is narrower also, because I have small hands.

5. A Wannabe Teacher’s Guide

A Wannabe Teacher's Guide

In A Teacher’s Guide: Getting Hired, Having Fun, and Staying Sane, I explain how to survive and thrive as a fledgling educator. It’s easy to read, low key, and doesn’t take itself too seriously. I consider it an anti-textbook and include all those things that they don’t teach us in college, but we really need to know before we enter a classroom.

Secrets include up to date buzzwords, the differences between inner city and suburban schools, and the disparity between theory and reality in terms of pedagogy and discipline. The pages are filled with lighthearted advice and include: checklists, sample resumes, letters to parents, syllabi, first day plans, and so much more.

To summarize. I recommend you splurge on these five things before your first day of school.

  1. Storage Solutions
  2. A daily planner book
  3. A comfortable chair
  4. A quality water bottle
  5. A Wannabe Teacher’s Guide

Already a teacher? Leave a comment sharing something you couldn’t live without in your classroom.

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A Teacher's Guide

I am a National Board Certified educator currently teaching in Virginia. I have taught the following: English 9, 10, 11, and 12 (on academic, collaborative, and honors levels); Dual Enrollment English; Mass Communications, Yearbook, Newspaper, and Communications Technology. I have experience in five different school systems, four in Virginia and one in Maryland. I served as my school’s 2019 Teacher of the Year and was a top five finalist for the Teacher of the Year for Virginia Beach City Public Schools. I am passionate about recruiting and retaining quality educators in our public schools. Let me help you find your path to changing lives through teaching!

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