Things I couldn’t teach without
I’ve just accepted a new teaching job at a school across town. Yesterday was my last day of summer school at my former school, so it was time to pack up. It’s amazing how much stuff you can move over the course of two years, also keeping in mind I never had a car during those two years. When packing up, I noticed very quickly how many things I used all the time, and what had barely been touched. My most essential teaching materials, I think, would work for every teacher.
I bought this globe ball from a dollar store a year or two ago. It is made of foam and is lightweight. I have used this ball to review vocabulary by tossing it between students in a circle, I’ve used it to call on students, or to help with classes where one student is talking a lot (you can’t speak unless you are holding the ball). Finally, from time to time, the students take the ball away and throw it at each other. Because it is lightweight and made of foam, potential injury and damage to property is minimal.
The cowboy hat came from one halloween at school where I was attempting to dress up as Carmen Sandiego. Unfortunately, most people thought I was a cowboy.
The sturdy cowboy hat was a fixture on my desk for most of my time teaching. I used the hat to collect cell phones when they were not being used appropriately. There was an interesting psychological effect when students put their phones into the hat themselves, versus having them taken away by me. I also used the hat to draw names, or vocabulary terms for games. Again, it was also used by students for fun, and I did see many of them running around the school with it on.
In my room I had an oversize map of the world with the North American centered orientation. I think that all people really enjoy looking at a map if one is presented to them. Not only was a large map a conversation piece, it was also very helpful for discussing current events, where people were from and where people were going. The map was used across the curriculum – from Earth Science to Social Studies to English. I purchased my world map online – it was laminated so I was able to draw all over it with board markers. I also found a similar map of Canada, (from Wall Pops) that was also laminated so we could annotate with markers as needed – do you know where the Red River Settlement was, using todays provincial borders?
Erasable pens in many colours
One of my co-workers loved stationary, and sold me a set of erasable ink pens from Japan. Because the pens erase, you can make very clear marks on students work, but also erase any mistakes made. Having pens in a variety of colors makes marked work look more appealing. Its also easy to code using different colors of ink – i.e., blue for mechanical errors, green for a spelling mistake, purple for subject verb agreement, etc.
(These particular pens are very cool, and if you are interested in learning more about how they work there is a link here.)
Talking all day can make you dehydrated! I drank water and tea all day, most days. This item has definitely been one of my teaching essentials since I started to teach. A hot cup of tea will do a stressed out teacher a world of good, and staying hydrated by drinking water will save your voice.
While I packed a lot of things into my car yesterday, these things are definitely coming with me to my new school.
Final pro tip: Milk crates make excellent materials storage and moving boxes!
Teachers, what are your essentials at school?