My students’ supply list has been handed out, mailed, and posted on our school website for the last six weeks. The list includes pencils, papers, markers, colored pencils, and all of the other typical 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 can’t do without, what I like to call “my survival kit!”

We all have the basic supply list of pens, paper, paper clips, staplers, and more, but those items are not the “supplies” I need to start gathering. I am referring to the special teacher supply list needed 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 without which I couldn’t have survived those after school meetings, parent/student conferences, open houses, or all other after-school functions. They are really that vital!

My kit is broken down into categories or sections. These categories include tools, toiletries, medicines, snacks, entertainment, cleaners, and miscellaneous. Over the summer I will purchase from dollar stores, pharmacies, or Wal-Mart until my kit is complete.

My Tool Box

Inside this plastic container, I keep:

  • A small hammer
  • Two types of screwdrivers
  • An adjustable wrench
  • Masking tape
  • Fishing wire
  • 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 Allen wrench for raising and lowering student desks. I asked our maintenance crew 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, and mouth wash
  • Hairbrush and extra hair bands
  • Make-up
  • Lint brush

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

Medical Must-Haves

In a locked container in my desk or file cabinet, I keep items such as:

  • Aspirin
  • Cough drops
  • Non-drowsy cold and allergy medicines
  • Antacids
  • First aid kit
  • Extra tissues

If you are like me, you will attempt to teach through a cold, cough, or upset tummy, 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, allergies can flair up, 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 three o’clock 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
  • Plastic spoons/forks and paper plates
  • Napkins
  • Water bottles
  • Quick lunches like soup
  • Non-perishable snacks like crackers and popcorn
  • Gum or other favorite candies

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 at home or didn’t have time to pack one. Sometimes I will even purchase a few frozen lunches, label them, and keep them in the teacher’s workroom for those late nights.

After-School Music

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

  • Bluetooth speaker
  • DVDs
  • iPod

When report cards are due and those late nights are guaranteed, I like to have the company of background noise, whether that’s from my iPod, YouTube, or a Spotify playlist. 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 a locked closet, 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 years where I didn’t have a safety pin for the zipper that broke, a sweater for when the AC kicked on, and batteries for the flashlight needed for a science experiment. Items included in this list are:

  • Note cards
  • Batteries
  • Safety pins
  • A small sewing kit
  • Sweater or jacket

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 plain inconvenient.