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Tales of the Traveling Teacher Tote

Outside the Box Teaching Ideas

There it sits, patiently waiting for me, wondering when/if I will give attention to it and all the contents it so dutifully holds. Over the years, this faithful companion has traveled with me from classroom to home and back again through rain showers, snowstorms, and beautiful sunny days. It has willingly transported books, papers, stickers, pens, and numerous other items for my personal use. Many times it has sat in the dark confines of my car trunk or in the forgotten corner chair in my kitchen, longing to be remembered.

My faithful companion? My teacher tote. The teacher tote is mandatory for being a teacher. You can't really BE a teacher without having this as your sidekick. We all have one: They come in various colors, sizes and styles. Some even have monogrammed letters or names, some with a cute little teaching anecdote or design. Mine is a pretty little flowered tote (from Thirty-One bags) complete with many side pockets, which are filled, and its matching mini-zipper tote is also filled.

Everyday in anticipation, I pack up papers, projects, and books with all the intention of sitting at home and completing each task. I carry it out to my car and then carry it in to the house. Sadly, however, life and a bit of exhaustion seems to take over and there my bag sits waiting to be toted back to the car and back into the classroom. The intention is there, but the motivation is not. It is a vicious little cycle.

In all the effort it takes to pack my teacher's tote, one would think I would at least pay it some attention and attempt to tackle one or two tasks, but I usually don't. Why? To be completely honest, I am exhausted! By the time I get home (after an hour's commute), prepare dinner, help my son with his homework, clean up and prepare things for next day, I'm fried! My energy is completely depleted, and all I want to do is empty my mind of the day's events.

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Since I am a teacher and we know a teacher NEVER stops being a teacher, I usually “empty” my mind, searching Pinterest, Teachers Pay Teachers, Google, or other sites for cool ideas/activities/supplements, check out the teacher boards on Facebook, and answer school-related emails. The thought of opening my teacher tote is just daunting.

So why go through all the effort of packing and toting? Maybe I do this is because I want to believe I am a super teacher and my energy is endless. At the time of the packing, I have just enough energy remaining to believe I could tackle a little more. Once I am home, reality sets in, and I discover I am but a mere human who even with best intentions needs to rest physically and mentally.

Maybe I do this because I feel like I am missing a part of myself if I don't have my teacher's tote. I know it sounds silly, but it's true! It is like having my purse. I wouldn't leave home without it, so I shouldn't leave school without my tote? It is a part of me.

I am not sure of the reason, but I do know I am not alone. There are countless teachers out there who share my tale: Many whose tote travels from place to place. If these totes could talk, oh the tales they would tell.

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