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How-To: Get Started

Be Prepared for Anything Nancy Powell

It helps to be prepared as you enter your classroom. Look for these items in your house (you may have extras) or check out garage sales and second-hand stores. Because costs can add up. Keep receipts and/or records of what you spend. These expenses (for the most part) are tax deductible, but keep good records. You can also look into getting a credit card just to use for school expenses. Use it for the purpose of record keeping, not for spending more money than you should. Stay balanced!

A collection of tools, emergency supplies, medical supplies, office supplies, and a substitute notebook could save the day when you least expect it!

Tool Box:

Round up some old tools for your classroom even if you can't hang things on the walls. Some things that might come in handy are:

  • an old shirt, lab coat, or smock to protect your clothes,
  • a hammer,
  • pliers,
  • screwdrivers - phillips, flathead, and a micro set like you'd use for eyeglass repair,
  • some paper towels and/or old towels from home,
  • tweezers,
  • a magnifying glass,
  • a flashlight and batteries,
  • an Exacto knife,
  • a hot glue gun,
  • Velcro,
  • a spare bulb for your overhead projector,
  • WD-40 or a small can of lubricant,
  • string and/or fishing line, and
  • wire cutters

These things might just fit the bill for your creative classroom needs. Make sure that they are in good repair and that you have a good tool box to keep them safe from little and big hands.

Emergency Items:

Have you ever accidentally torn or damaged something that you're wearing? You may want to keep the following items in an accessible place in your room:

  • safety pins,
  • a needle and thread,
  • an extra pair of comfortable shoes (especially if you're a woman and a sandal or strap breaks),
  • an extra pair of neutral colored pants and a shirt,
  • an extra set of car keys (in case you lock yours in your car in a frenzied moment),
  • an extra pair of glasses or contacts (and solution), and
  • extra buttons

Medical Items:

Most schools will supply you with important items that help meet the blood-born pathogen legislation. Things that you should have on hand include:

  • band aids,
  • rubber gloves,
  • baggies ,
  • nail clippers, and
  • Tylenol or ibuprofen (only for you -- teachers cannot disperse medication to students).

Make sure to schedule a meeting with the school nurse to find out how your school wants you to deal with medical situations BEFORE you have an emergency.

Office Supplies:

Instead of spending your savings to buy commonly used office supplies for your classroom, check with your doctor or dentist for promotional items that you can use. Office supply stores, copy shops, and teacher supply stores often have teacher appreciation days when they give away all sorts of post-its, pens, pencils, markers, clips, and rulers, etc. Schools often have supply rooms for file folders, lesson plan books, tape, staplers and staples, etc. Ask your administrators or other teachers about the types of supplies that the school has available for teachers. It is very tempting to go on a buying spree when you begin teaching, but remember, don't spend the paycheck that you haven't received yet on these items.

Substitute Notebook:

Instead of having to hurry and collect information when you are ill or will be absent from your classroom, keep all of the important information for a substitute in a handy three-ring notebook. Include your

  • seating charts,
  • teaching schedule including lunch time,
  • attendance forms and instructions on how and when attendance should be taken,
  • name(s) of reliable student(s) in each class in case there are questions,
  • location of your lesson plan book and necessary handouts,
  • pages asking the substitute to provide feedback on the lessons/day,
  • location of hall passes and other passes with the directions for using them,
  • location of your medical emergency items,
  • ways to contact the office in case of an emergency,
  • additional activities that can be used as time fillers in case students finish too early, and
  • the name and room number of a nearby teacher that can be contacted for help.

Make sure to update this with new seating charts, etc. when you make new ones. This will save you an unbelievable amount of time and discomfort when you may not be feeling your best!

Other Stuff:

Be good to mother nature and bring your own mug to school to save on paper or Styrofoam cups. Put a disposable camera in your desk drawer for those special moments that you won't want to miss!

You won't need all of these things for your first day of school, so add to your collections of necessary items. Having these items and others that you think of will make your job more pleasurable and less frustrating. Things don't need to be new - just clean, safe and useable. Enjoy!


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