For all the years teachers have to spend in school before getting a classroom, you’d think everything would be figured out. Not true. Not to trash our college education (which we both are still paying off), but there are SO MANY things you learn in the trenches of the classroom. Many of those things relate to what you need to have in order to make your teaching life go smoothly.
DISCLAIMER: Everything on this list is in one or both of our classrooms, and while we may have brand names/products listed here we are not getting any kickbacks and 100% realize that for most of these items, nearly any brand would do, except Duct tape, nothing beats Duck Brand Duct Tape. (Try saying that saying that 10 times fast).
Without further ado, here are 10 things nobody told you your classroom needs but that it absolutely does. (In no particular order because we couldn’t agree which things were more important than others…)
- Tool Kit: We are not talking something super fancy but you’d be surprised how often you need a hammer, wrench or screwdriver. Pliers also come in handy in a pinch. The one pictured (and Aileen’s classroom) is from IKEA. It is easier sometimes to just have the tools to fix something yourself quickly than to bother your custodial staff (but be careful to ask for help when you need it so you don’t cause a problem somebody else has to fix!)
- Duct Tape: What isn’t duct tape used for? You can hang your posters, level your tables, mark on the floor where students line up, use it for crafts, create your own dry erase pockets, and customize nearly anything. Check out this pinterest board dedicated just to creative uses of duct tape.
- Cinder-block Hooks/Command Hooks: Make you you check with your custodial staff before using things like cinder-block hooks. Command Hooks are usually pretty safe as far as not causing damage. Once again you’ll find yourself using them to hang nearly anything.
- Twine String: Twine comes in handy when trying to hang larger items like visual schedules. It’s also good for connecting things like markers to marker boards (check out posts to come from Jessica for how she makes this work!)
- Hot Glue Gun: As you will discover from the character costume posts, Aileen has an addiction to her hot glue gun. It’s a fast, easy and relatively non-messy way to stick things together and mend things.
- Label Maker: A hard fact is that many of the things that we find in our classrooms are things we paid for ourselves, so making sure your name is on your belongings is important. However, the possibilities of a label maker are much greater than that. One simple label maker can make a huge difference in how organized your classroom is. The one pictured is actually the same that Aileen has. It was the best Christmas present ever.
- Teacher Water Bottle: Hydration is hugely important, and when you can’t leave your classroom, having a water bottle is essential. We recommend not having a SUPER HUGE water bottle, but rather one you can easily carry and that keeps you from needing too many potty breaks (because we all know how hard those are to come by.)
- Clear Totes: Where to start? Totes are wonderful items to have for storage. Both Jessica and Aileen have million of these totes from Target (everyone once in a while our local Targets go crazy and put the clear colored ones on clearance… then a couple of days later they are back in stock for full price… don’t question it.) The 66 qt is a good size because unless you are putting books or bricks into storage, even full they hold a lot but are not too heavy. The clear ones are better than others. Non-clear ones can be cheaper at times, but being able to see what is inside is worth the extra money.
- Zip Ties: These items can keep your cords in check, help you create shelves out of crates, and hold things together that shouldn’t be falling apart in the first place. Aileen has also used them on desk legs to keep rows/groups of desks together.
- Sweater/Jacket: Unless you work in a magical place that lets you adjust the temperature, chances are good that you are at the mercy of a thermometer nowhere near your room. One minute hot, one minute freezing, so having a sweater or jacket to leave in the classroom is always a good idea. Just make sure you take it home to wash every once in a blue moon.
BONUS: This is an item that neither of us have and that Aileen is always borrowing from another teacher. If you have drop ceilings and want to hang things from it you need this. It’s called a Ceiling Hanglers Grid Clip Put-er Up-er. Here’s a picture for your to drool over.
There’s plenty other things out there that are essential. What are your thoughts?