If you're a new teacher, I'm sure you have been bombarded with so many tidbits of things to do and remember for when it is your time to have your own classroom. With a classroom to decorate, lessons to plan, behavior management plans to figure out, there is a lot to do. Figuring out "your style" in teaching will take a little bit (you will get there!), but everything can definitely be overwhelming. I thought even if it was going to take a bit for me to nail my teaching style and smooth out my behavior management systems, I could at least make sure my classroom was perfect and ready to go on the first day. That is one thing I thought could and should control right off the bat.
When I first started teaching I wanted class sets of every school supply, the best and brightest classroom, and all of the coolest gadgets and "teacher" things I could put my hands on. I almost went broke spending so much money at the beginning of the year for things I thought I had to have.
In this post, I'm breaking down what I would call the must-haves (as far as things to purchase) to start the year off with. Just remember: it is okay if you don't have every school supply, or classroom decoration finished on the first day of school!
Top Ten Things Every New Teacher Needs to Purchase to Be Ready for the School Year
The Must Have List...Everything Else Can Wait
1. Flair Pens:
This may seem a little silly so someone who isn't a teacher, but seriously flair pens are. the. best. Not only do the bright colors pop, but it helps with color coding everything and it doesn't bleed through on your planner. Also, if you have to give feedback on a lot of essays (like me!) the pretty colors makes it a little less painful :) In my classroom, these stay in the "Not for Kids" drawer. On your days in the beginning that may not go so well, it will be the little things that can put a smile on your face (and for me, one of those things is awesome pens!).
2. A great planner:
This one many be obvious, but if you're a Type A person, then you know that you will now go everywhere with your planner now that you're a teacher (even more than before)! There are so many planner options out there, but I prefer the Erin Condren LifePlanners (I wrote about why I prefer the LifePLanner over the Teacher Lesson Planner here). Erin Condren has so many awesome products (no, this is not sponsored, I just love her stuff!). You'll need to decide if you want your teaching and "life" stuff separate or all in one place. EC has so many complimentary products that once you figure out how you want to work it, she will have what you're looking for!
3. Heavy-Duty Stapler: I spent like $50 dollars on stapler stuff just. last. year. for not taking this advice. I would just go to Office Depot or wherever and buy the cheapest ones. The kids break them every time (unintentionally). I've found that the heavy-duty metal ones last the longest and are worth the extra couple of bucks at the start.
I'm sure you're laughing at this one but yes, the "wall-mount" part does matter. It became very apparent to me (like one day 1 of teaching) that the electric ones are extremely noisy and annoying. Also, every year when I've had an electric sharpener (sometimes more than one!) they break every. single. time. and I have to go out and buy the $1 handheld ones to pass around. I got tired of spending money on the electric ones, so I bought a wall-mount one and it has been a dream.
Having a heavy-duty wall mount sharpener will (1) last longer, (2) get on your nerves less, and (3) get on your nerves less. Can you tell I hate the grinding noise of the electric sharpener? :)
5. Sharpie Flip-Chart Markers:
I live and die by flip charts. That is just my style. I put a flip chart on the wall to reference back to for many things and by the end of the year my walls are covered with them. The Sharpie Flip-Chart markers are slightly more expensive that some other brands but this is an instant when the brand does matter. These markers are bright in color, have a thick enough writing tip where you can write in bold easily (so kids in the back can read), and they don't bleed through the flip chart paper. I can buy 1 pack of these and they will last me most of the year (with maybe buying a re-fill of black markers late in the year). Worth. It.
6. AstroBrights paper:
This is the stuff dreams are made of. Large packs of neon bright paper? I cannot get enough. Whether it is for certificates, to color code assignments, use on bulletin boards etc. you can never have enough of this stuff. It also comes in handy on all of those "First Week of School" papers that get sent home! I only get the cardstock thick kind for special things, but this stuff can't be beat.
7. Expo Markers: Again, this is when brand matters. I have tried to buy "off-brands" of white board markers and they dry out so quickly. Also, it is a little bit hard to shell out the money for the big pack with all of the colors, instead of just buying the red, black and blue pack but, again, having all of the colors available will definitely come in handy so spring for the big pack.
8. Heavy-Duty 3-Hole Punch: Only being able to fit 4 or 5 pieces of paper in a hole puncher at a time is annoying, and the kids will more than likely jam it up :) Go for the big one as a classroom "investment". :)
Yes! As a middle school teacher, I try to time everything. The kids respond well to the competition and it helps with assignment time management and behavior management. I use my phone a lot, but I've gotten more to the point where my phone goes in a drawer and I use the timer more. If something happens to "walk out" of my class, I'd rather it be the timer than my phone! Also, yes, there are timers and countdown clocks online. There will be times when you won't be able to project the time, and it is really annoying to have to keep clicking back and forth online when you're trying to project something else for the students, so just buy you own :)
10. Really Useful Boxes for storage:
I am obsessed with these things. In the past, I have bought pencil boxes and other little storage bins and buckets and they've broken. The Really Useful Boxes I bought my 1st year are still going strong! Because they have heavy duty latches that fasten the tops shut, they also hold up to being dropped (and even tossed). The ones I have that holds crayons is dropped all the time and won't open up and hasn't broken!
You can get these boxes in many sizes. I have many that are like the one in the above link, and also paper sized bins to carry home essays in. Worth the money!