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My Teacher Survival Kit

Outside the Box Teaching Ideas

Teacher Survival KitMy students' supply list have been handed out, mailed out, and posted on our school website for the last six weeks. The list includes pencils, papers, markers, colored pencils, and all of the normal necessities needed throughout the year.  Now that they are all set, it is time for me to start putting together my yearly list of things I just can't do without, what I like to call “my survival list!”

We all have the basic supply list of pens, paper, paper clips, staplers, etc... but those items are not the “supplies” I need to start gathering. I am referring to the special teacher supply list need to survive the school year.

Over the years, I have come to realize that my second home is my classroom. As much as I hate to admit it, if I had a bed there, I would probably sleep there most nights! I have discovered many times the need for items on my list and couldn't have survived those after school meetings, parent/student conferences, open houses, or all other after school functions without these supplies. They are really that vital!

My kit (if you want to call it that) is broken down into categories or sections. These categories include tools, toiletries, medicines, snacks, entertainment, cleaners, and miscellaneous (you know those items you just never know if you will need). Over the summer I will purchase from dollar stores, pharmacies, or Wal-Mart (catching all the great sales) until my kit is complete. Everything from lipstick to duct tape is included.

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My Tool Box

Inside this plastic container (or I have even used an old fishing tackle box) I keep:

  • •    a small hammer
  • •    two types of screw drivers
  • •    an adjustable wrench
  • •    masking tape
  • •    fishing wire (great for hanging things from ceiling)
  • •    duct tape

While we have a wonderful maintenance crew, they are often busy and if a task is small and simple enough, I can do it myself. It is also a good idea to keep an allan wrench for raising and lowering student desks. I asked our maintenance for an extra one and have had it ever since.

Toiletries & Other Necessities

Another plastic container or zipper bag is used to keep items such as:

  • •    deodorant
  • •    toothbrush/toothpaste
  • •    hairbrush
  • •    hairspray
  • •    extra hair bands
  • •    make-up
  • •    breath mints or small bottle of mouth wash
  • •    feminine needs
  • •    hand cream
  • •    lint brush
  • •    nylons

Since I live forty-five minutes from home, it is not always feasible for me to go home and return for a 6:00 conference or  PTO meeting. Having these items on hand allows me to “freshen up” before having to meet with parents, administration, or visitors.

Tylenol & Other Medical Must Haves

In a locked container in my desk or file cabinet (out of reach of students) I keep items such as:

  • •    aspirin
  • •    cough drops
  • •    cold and allergy medicines (non-drowsy of course)
  • •    antacids
  • •    nail clippers
  • •    a small first aid kit
  • •    extra tissues
  • •    sun block

If you are like me, you will attempt to teach through a cold, cough, or upset tummy (non contagious) as we all know it is harder to plan for a sub than to be out for the day. Headaches can appear out of nowhere, the sun can beat down when the forecast said rain, and the school meatloaf may not agree with you! All kinds of unexpected things happen and it is good to have these on hand to prevent you from having to suffer until the 3:00 bell rings.

Teacher Snacks & Goodies

I love coffee, chocolate, and anything gummy! Having my “comfort” foods on hand helps me get through those really stressful days. In my personal closet I keep:

  • •    instant coffee or K-cups
  • •    travel mug with lid
  • •    sugar packets
  • •    plastic spoons/forks
  • •    napkins
  • •    crackers
  • •    fruit snacks
  • •    water bottles
  • •    gum or other favorite candies
  • •    cup o' soups
  • •    popcorn
  • •    anything else that is nonperishable

My fourth graders have a morning snack time and often a student will forget his/her snack. While I try to discourage this from happening on a daily basis due to allergies and so forth, it does help to have a few snacks available. It is also good to have something when you forget your lunch on the kitchen counter and the cafeteria food just doesn't look too appealing. Sometimes I will even purchase a few frozen lunches, label, and keep in teacher's workroom for those late nights.

After-School Music

In a desk drawer or somewhere in the room I will keep:

  • •    CDs
  • •    DVDs
  • •    iPod

When report cards are due and those late nights are guaranteed, I like to have the company of background noise. There have been a few nights when I am the last one in the building. We have an old building that creaks so the music also keeps me from jumping at every creak!

Classroom Disinfectants & Cleaners

Again, while we have a great maintenance crew, they are not always able to clean the classroom thoroughly every night. Sometimes a vacuum or quick sweep is all there is time for. In a small bucket in the locked closet (again, student safety) I keep:

  • •    Clorox wipes
  • •    paper towels
  • •    sponges for the chalk and white boards
  • •    Lysol spray

Miscellaneous & You-Never-Know Items

These items are not always necessary but you never know if you will need them. I can honestly say the list came about from situations over the year where I didn't have a safety pin for the zipper that broke, a sweater for when the air kicked despite the cooler temp outside, and batteries for the flashlight I needed for the science experiment that died five minutes after being turned on. Items included in this list are:

  • •    note cards
  • •    stamps
  • •    extra batteries
  • •    safety pins
  • •    a small sewing kit
  • •    extra set of shoes (black goes with everything)
  • •    sweater
  • •    extra pair of sunglasses
  • •    small watering can for the plants in my window

I am sure I will continue to add to my survival list as new needs arise but these basic items have helped me get through situations that would have otherwise been embarrassing, challenging, or just a big inconvenience.

What items do you need to survive the school year? Share in the comments section!