You’ve got to take a look at these new teacher must-haves and classroom essentials!
You’re in your first year of teaching (or soon will be), and there’s quite a bit of stuff to figure out.
To get things started on the right foot (or to keep them running smoothly), take note of these classroom essentials that are absolute new teacher must haves!
This isn’t any ‘ole teacher must-haves list.
These are classroom essentials to which you may not have given too much thought.
Let’s dig into it!
25 New Teacher Must-Haves: Classroom Essentials for the “On It” Teacher
1. Water Bottle
Many schools encourage students to bring a water bottle to school daily.
Why not do the same and carry a water bottle in your teacher bag?
Fill it early in the morning, and you’ll have fresh water at your disposal whenever you need a quick drink.
I made a habit of carrying my water bottle to recess duty, lunch duty, everywhere!
If you’re particular about always having cold water like me, simply use a thermos instead. It keeps the water so refreshingly cold!
Staying hydrated with water throughout the school day is necessary for our health.
A water bottle is a given on any new teacher must have list.
2. Hygiene Items
This topic can be a little awkward to talk about, but we’re all adults here, right?
Do you sometimes dread going to the staff bathroom because the person just before you has LIT-IT-UP with the most abominable smell? 😳
Or maybe you’re the culprit! (ha ha!)
Let’s all raise our hands in agreement to get rid of poop smell!
Try Poo~pourri, the “Before-You-Go” toilet spray!
Poo~pourri gives you the freedom to drop a load (or two) without shame, worry, or fear that your colleague coming after you will give you the stink face for leaving that “lovely” residual smell.
Okay. Am I just doing the most here with these details?
Sorry not sorry. 😜
Carry a small bottle of Poo~pourri with you when you go to the potty, or be kind and leave a bottle in the staff bathroom (with humorous instructions so ‘yo teacher colleague peeps know how to use it!).
On another note…
Keep a stash of tampons (or whichever feminine products you use) somewhere in your desk drawer.
Because well, you just never know!
I bet you didn’t expect this on the list of classroom essentials and new teacher must-haves, uh?!
Well, surprise, surprise!
3. Rolling Book Bag
Prevent backache and increase ease with a rolling teacher bag.
While I don’t advocate taking too much work home, when you do need to do so, rolling it away instead of carrying does wonders.
Such a simple change with great positive results.
This is one of those new teacher must haves that I waited too long to get on board with using.
When I finally got one, I couldn’t understand how I had managed to go so long without it.
Nowadays, you can find cute, fancy rolling teaching bags specifically designed with the tired teacher in mind.
They work super well and for an extra plus, are arguably fashionable.
But to save some coins, I just used an old carry-on suitcase as my teacher rolling bag.
Worked well enough!
4. Thank You Cards
In this day and age, it seems like genuine gratitude is hit or miss.
A simple thank you goes a long way and is very much appreciated.
Whenever someone in the school community, whether it be a parent, colleague, whomever, does something nice for you, why not give them a simple thank you note?
A handwritten thank you card adds a personal touch.
Thank you cards come in various designs.
You can find affordable, stylish ones that are great to use for any occasion.
5. Paper Filing Pocket Chart
Not yet ready to invest your money into a bunch of baskets for organizing your paper system?
Until you come up with a more set system (or hey, this could be your system!), use this simple-to-use paper filing pocket chart.
It hangs easily on the wall. Each little slot has a place to insert a label with whatever themes/topics tickle your fanny.
Park in the individual slots graded papers, papers to be distributed to students, lesson plans, notes to go home, homework, whatever!
I’m a huge fan of the organize-all-my-papers-in-one-place paper filing pocket chart as it’s a great way to quickly organize things before you have a set paper organization system in place.
It can even be part of your greater classroom organization system.
6. Heavy-Duty Pencil Sharpener
Oh my gosh!
Elementary teachers know what I’m talking about when I say that pencils can be such a pain to manage and handle.
It’s like they just grow legs and walk.
Add to that the task of keeping them sharpened!
Lord help us all!
Those little “kiddy” pencil sharpeners are hit or miss; some work fine while others aren’t even worth the trouble.
Do yourself a favor, and purchase a heavy-duty, kid-proof pencil sharpener for your classroom.
Also make sure to get one that sharpens colored-pencils, too!
In the teaching world, we all need someone that we can talk to during the good and bad times.
Here’s some advice for you…
Before you blindly trust someone at your job because they seem “nice”, “vet” them first by observing their actions over a period of time.
People will eventually tell you who they are by their actions if you just pay attention close enough.
After a while, you’ll be able to see, feel, and have a gut intuition of whom you can trust. Furthermore, you need to vibe with that person.
Also find someone who will allow you to vent without judgement.
An ear to listen without judgement is such a blessing.
When you find this person, be thankful for them, show them gratitude, and reciprocate those good vibes.
A support system such as this is one of the new teacher must-haves that’s going to keep you going smoothly along the journey of ups and downs experienced in the teaching life.
8. EZ Grader
An EZ Grader is one of the classroom essentials that will save you so much time and headache when grading.
If you don’t have one of these useful grading tools, you’ll miss out on saving oodles of time!
No, not every assignment aligns with the structure of an EZ Grader, but it’s still a present from the heavens nonetheless.
Cheers to grading smarter, not harder!
9. Lunch Bag
Though brown paper bags are recyclable, they’re still a waste if you’re using them to bring your lunch to school everyday.
An even better idea is the use of a reusable, washable lunch bag.
Nowadays, they come in cute styles too, so you can be fashionable while you eat and snack.
10. Healthy Snacks
While on the topic of food, one of the new teacher must-haves that I couldn’t do without was a small stash of healthy snacks.
Dried fruit, nuts, granola, whatever it is that will keep well throughout the day or in your desk drawer without perishing is a good idea.
When the students had snack time, I ate my healthy snack right along with them.
And before a long faculty meeting, I’d take a handful of something scrumptious to keep my energy levels up.
Whenever you need something quick to give you a boost of energy, you’ll be happy to know that you have a stash somewhere in your desk drawer.
Healthy snacks are definitely a classroom essential.
11. Colorful Pens
Some years ago, I attended a workshop where the presenter encouraged us teachers not to use red pen when grading.
Because red is associated with aggressiveness and negativity, he stated that red pen caused kids to become more anxious and agitated.
I don’t know if that’s true or not, (I mean, it does have some logic to it.) but every since that time, I’ve only used non-red, “colorful” pens for marking student work.
No more bloody, anxiety-inducing red!
Purple, lime green, blue, and pink pens are my current favs. ❤
And you know what?
The students like the look of them, too!
Plus, using colorful pens weirdly makes grading a bit more exciting (if that’s even possible).
So colorful pens it is.
Grab a set, and you’re good to go.
You always have that one kid in the class who despises anyone who tries to copy off of his paper.
He has put in the effort, and no one’s going to profit off of his hard work.
And many times, these kids aren’t even your highest achievers.
They’re just “regular” kids who are busting their butts to make decent grades and only want their fair share without unfair compensation for cheaters.
I feel ‘ya son!
To reduce that frustration and anxiety, try durable, kid-friendly test-dividers.
These guard-your-work dividers work especially well for spelling tests and any other major assessments that require independent work.
Really, these suckers are ‘da bomb, and the kids really like them.
I used them mostly for upper elementary, but their versatility is relatively wide.
Test dividers are a great investment; you won’t regret having them as one of your classroom essentials.
Say goodbye to cheating.
13. Emergency Lesson Plans
As much as we plan our teaching and our lives, the inevitable happens. And it’s perfectly normal.
That’s why it’s a new teacher must -have to create a really good set of emergency lesson plans.
It will one day come to pass that you’ll be pulled away from your classroom without much warning and for whatever reason.
So be prepared.
Admittedly, it’s a lot of work upfront to create emergency lesson plans – say, a couple of days.
But my goodness, it feels so good when you have them done.
There are many years where I never used my emergency lesson plans, but I had peace of mind knowing that they were there.
Keep your emergency lesson plans in a place that’s easily accessible to your sub and maybe also a trusted colleague.
That way, in your absence, locating them is fairly easy.
Working one-on-one with students, working in small groups, walking around facilitating, going to staff meeting, etc…
There are always situations where you need to take notes quickly and easily.
A simple clipboard is your answer!
And while you’re at it, grab a set for the whole class because your students will be able to use them conveniently during learning centers and independent work.
If you want something a little more fancy schmancy, you can easily find those super cute designer clip boards. Hey, why not?
Teacher and student clipboards are new teacher must-haves that add positively to any classroom system.
15. Contact Paper
Is contact paper “old school”?
I don’t know if it is or not, but I do know for sure that it’s an absolutely ‘da bomb classroom essential for holding down name tags, classroom library basket labels, and anything else you need to stay in place.
Think of contact paper as tape on steroids.
One word of caution though…
It does take some time to get used to contact paper if you’re not familiar, as it puckers and “bubbles” easily if you don’t have a still, yet quick hand.
Nonetheless, it’s a great new teacher must-have.
16. A Couple of Your Favorite Read Aloud Books
At the beginning of the school year when you’re getting to know your students, your favorite real aloud books are great for building connections with them while at the same time showing them a little more about who you are.
I always have one or two of my favorite books displayed in the classroom.
Two of my favorites to real aloud are I Love My Hair by Natasha Anastasia Tarpley and E. B. Lewis ❤️ and Makin’ Groceries by Todd-Michael St. Pierre, a book about Louisiana culture.
These books ignite great conversation and break the ice a bit, which are especially important tasks for the first days of school.
Sometime during the first week of school, I read these books to my kids, making sure to incorporate a learning objective in some way.
The students get to learn more about me and see my love of reading.
This in turn motivates them to participate and share more during reader’s workshop!
Will you have the dreaded recess duty?
If so, put a whistle on your new teacher must-haves list.
But only if your school doesn’t provide one for you (Even still, I always had my own!).
It’s an attention-getter for sure, and it saves your voice.
18. Glue Gun
For holiday activities, a glue gun will come in handy for all of those festive crafts.
A small glue gun is so very-much appreciated in elementary classrooms, but let me warn you…
Once word gets out that you have one, everybody and dey momma will be asking to borrow it!
Handle that situation as you wish, but know that it’s a classroom essential that many won’t buy but will gladly borrow.
So buy your cute little glue gun, and stash it away until you need it for those times that you really want to take things to the next level.
Now let me say…
You probably won’t use it too often, but when you’re ready to use it or when you have an idea that requires one, you’ll be so happy to have that glue gun on hand.
Another glue gun idea…
For an easy solution to displaying student work throughout the school year, “glue gun” clothes pins into 2 or 3 horizontal rows onto a bulletin board.
Hang student work, and rotate your kiddos’ signature pieces as often as you’d like (about once every six weeks or so).
A glue gun has many great uses.
New Teacher Must-Haves for Home
19. Portable Filing Accordion Organizer
During the teaching hiring process, you’re often in contact with Human Resources departments, getting all of your paperwork in order.
Keep all of those papers safe and sound in a portable filing folder.
Label each section: medical insurance, contract, pension info., professional development, tax forms such as W-4, etc.
Putting all of your professional paperwork in order like this keeps you uber organized.
Additionally, if you have school-aged kids, make a label for things such as immunization records, enrollment documents, etc.
20. Lap Desk
If you need to do a bit of work at home but would rather not sit in a desk, why not use a lap desk instead?
My I-cannot-live-without-it home office tool is a computer lap desk.
While I didn’t grade that much at home, when I did, I used a sturdy, wooden lap desk which allowed me to work comfortably on my couch or even in the bed.
You guys, this lap desk thing is fantastic! I use it every.single.day.
As we speak, I’m using it to type on my computer from the comfort of my bed. It’s that good and super comfortable.
Your list of new teacher must-haves isn’t complete without a nice, sturdy lap desk.
Having a small printer at home may seem extreme to some, but here’s why they’re so convenient.
When you’re planning at home, you may at times want to print a couple of copies of something without waiting until you get to school to do so.
That might not seem like a big deal right now, but this small action can have a big impact in saving time.
Print an original copy at home, and then go straight to the copier once you arrive to school.
No need to make a pit-stop first to your classroom computer to send the document to the Xerox machine.
Compared to even a few years ago, good, basic printers are pretty affordable.
They “pay” you back in so many ways because they make your teaching life easier.
22. Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff and It’s All Small Stuff Book
I love self-help books.
I’m one of those people.
When you need nuggets of wisdom and guidance, check out my #1 favorite book:
Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff… and It’s All Small Stuff by Richard Carlson.
On my bookshelf at home is a copy, and I always had a copy at school on a small book easel at the top of my file cabinet or on a bookshelf.
I absolutely love this book and believe you will too.
I can almost promise you that this book will really give you the energy and motivation you need to keep going in this profession when things feel too overwhelming or uncertain.
One of the most important new teacher must haves is a very nice business casual wardrobe.
Even if your school has a relaxed dress code, a professional image is still what you want to project.
Comfortable and stylish options for teachers exist, and you don’t have to break the bank to look professional.
Check out these websites for affordable (and comfortable) clothes and shoes for teachers:
24. Favorite “Thing” that Helps You to Relax
Okay next up!
Whichever “thing” helps you to relax when you’re away from the classroom, do it!
As a new teacher, in the beginning, you’re probably going to experience longer work days than usual just because you’ll be trying to find your flow and rhythm.
Once you have your systems in place, go home right after school and DISCONNECT.
Do those things that help you to relax.
Have a glass (or two!) of wine, listen to some relaxing, wind-down music, spend time with your family, watch trashy or not-so-trashy TV, read a juicy book, shop, sleep, eat, go bike riding, cook, exercise, do whatever the h-e-double hockey sticks you want!
Because it’s those moments that are going to recharge your soul, mind, and body so that you face yet another day in the classroom with confidence, calmness, and happiness!
25. New Teacher Survival/Supply Kit
Within this new teacher must-haves post, you probably noticed that I didn’t mention all of the very common items like pencils, rulers, a staple, hole punch, rubber bands, etc.
All of that stuff belongs on your new teacher must-have list, of course, but it’s kind of understood that you’ll have them on hand.
But here’s a suggestion for you…
Save some time and purchase everything you need with just a few clicks. You can do a quick search online and find most of what you need all wrapped up in one nice, simple package.
Everything’s right there for you!
If you’re a university cooperating teacher or a new teacher mentor, a new teacher survival kit filled with all of these useful items makes a wonderful new teacher gift!
Your mentee will love having these classroom essentials gifted to them!
Wrapping Up: New Teacher Must-Haves
So there you have it!
Twenty-five new teacher must-haves and classroom essentials for the fabulous teacher!
This list could go on and on, but these are the basics that will set you on the right path.
Here’s to a fabulous year!
Until next time,
Happy Teaching and Learning!
👇WHAT TO READ NEXT:
- Super Easy Classroom Organization Ideas for the Elementary Classroom