Back to school is upon us!
I don’t know about you, but I really don’t know where my summer went… Well, maybe I do: a week setting up my school, a long weekend in London, a week in Switzerland a few days out/lunch dates and boom! Summer is gone and it’s time for school and, if you’re anything like me, you’re running through a mental checklist of all the things you need for the year ahead.
Books, pencils, post-it notes etc… All important and all very much needed by the pupils. But what about you? What do you need for a successful year? At the start of every academic year, I create a ‘teacher survival kit’ to keep in school. Now, this doesn’t contain stationery etc (well, except maybe one thing) but rather this is items that will help me survive the year. Items that I might need in an emergency or will just make my day a little bit easier.
So what do I put in my teacher survival kit? Well, you’ve probably already got some idea from the picture but let's explore these in more detail.
1. Teacher Planner
Now, I know I said no stationery, but this is not just paper. This is my Bible for the year. I tried traditional diaries/notebooks but I ended up with bits of paper and post-it notes everywhere (usually piled up on my desk) and it just wasn’t helping me stay organised. So, I decided to go with a Teacher Planner instead.
I looked online and found a vast array of teacher planners, both pre-made and print at home, but none of them had everything that I needed, so I made my own. This goes everywhere with me and enables me to have pretty much all the information about my class, lessons and school events in one place. You can read about what's included in my planner in this post.
2. Water Bottle
We all know that sometimes it’s hard to take a break in school, even during scheduled playtimes/recess. And I often found myself getting to hometime and having what I can only describe as a ‘fuzzy head’ because of one simple reason – I hadn’t drunk enough water. So, I make sure I carry a reusable water bottle with me (cheaper and far better for the environment than shop-bought water).
This one is from Ecologue – a fantastic source of inexpensive, natural and sustainable alternatives to everyday disposable plastic items – it keeps my water cold for 24 hours, and has a smiley cactus logo - what's not to love?!
3. Travel Mug
Now, I’m not really a hot drink person, but even I have had those mornings where the only thing that’s going to help is caffeine. Then there are those teachers for whom coffee is their lifeblood. Whichever end of the spectrum you’re at, keep a travel mug handy.
We’ve all had those ‘Oops, I forgot the deodorant this morning’ moments. Or, we live quite a distance from school and can’t get home to change before parents evening or meet the teacher night. So having an emergency supply of toiletries allows me to ‘freshen-up’ before having to meet with parents or other visitors. Examples of what I keep at school include:
5. Medicines and Other Health Supplies
Is there anything more necessary to a teacher’s life than paracetamol? I have them everywhere – in my bag, in my car, in my desk and in my store cupboard – so that I can always put my hand on some when I feel those headaches start to creep in.
I also keep a supply of prescribed medication as well as vitamin C supplements to boost my immune system, hand-sanitiser to kill those germs and lozenges, my preferred brand of which is Vocalzone. They don’t taste particularly nice, but they work wonders. I was turned on to them by a pharmacist about four years ago when I completely lost my voice. I could barely make any sound at all. Shortly after my first ‘dose’ of Vocal Zone, my voice returned! I was still quite croaky, but I managed to make it through the day. I’ve never gone back to other lozenges since.
You may also want to add cold and flu medication, allergy tablets, sunblock, and plasters (if they're not easily accessible at school).
6. Snacks and Other Essentials
We’ve all been there – it’s 2.30 on a Thursday afternoon and you’re flagging. You’re in need of a sugar hit (or a glass of wine which will, sadly, have to wait) but there’s nothing left in your lunch bag. This is why I always keep a stash of snacks on hand. The type of snack is up to you. I’m a major chocoholic so my snacks are always cocoa-based (usually Cadbury's), but you can keep sweets, cereal bars, crisps – whatever works for you.
Other essentials I like to have are:
What do you keep at school to help you through those days when things aren’t going according to plan and you need a little extra help?
I'm Ruth. I'm a teacher based in Manchester, UK.
I've been teaching for eight years and am currently based in Year Four, but I have also taught in Year One and Reception.
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