New teacher preparedness kit

Starting a new school year is stressful for any teacher, but especially hard on first-time teachers. Cognizant of the stress newbies experience, a group of veteran teachers share their insights into classroom essentials that were not mentioned in education classes.

Here, in no particular order, are their recommendations and rationale for their inclusion:

  • An emergency kit you can store in your room. You probably won’t be allowed to leave the building during the day. Hit the travel-size items bins for basics.
  • A water bottle.  Refill daily and drink it according to the spacing of bathroom opportunities.
  • Your own mug and an extra for drop-in colleagues.
  • AA batteries for the remote for the VCR that absolutely will be dead on the day you dragged yourself in horribly ill and can barely function.
  • Your own box of tissues which you never, never let students touch. Keep it in your desk drawer. A 6th-grade teacher taught me this and it cut my colds in half.
  • Band-Aids and cough drops. Kids who are looking for an excuse to leave at least know that those two won’t work.  You’ll be able to tell if they actually need to go to the nurse.
  • A fan in warm weather.
  • A ream of copy paper for the days you must print something and the building is out of paper.  Make a habit of carrying it with you when you go to the copier.
  • A Tide stain pen.
  • A spare pair of pants for the day when the zipper goes on the ones you’re wearing.
  • A few postage stamps and an envelope.
  • An umbrella or plastic poncho.
  • Emergency food supplies for the days when you forget your lunch, don’t have time to go to the cafeteria, or stay very late at school. Store any food in tins or you’ll get mice in your room.
  • A tin of emergency “moral support”  chocolate to  give to  colleagues who’ve had a horrible day.
  • A little  astringent and make-up, if you wear it, for the days when you are the one who’s upset.

Have some recommendations to add? The commenting feature is open.


LaVonne Davis-Schenck, teaches French and Spanish at Cumberland High School in Cumberland, RI, is particularly sensitive to the problems facing beginning teachers as her future daughter-in-law is seeking her first teaching job.

Jennifer Henson’s sympathy for new teachers harks back to her experience in California’s compulsory program for beginning teachers, which she had to take despite her experience teaching in England. These days, she lives in Pleasanton, CA, and is training a volunteer ESL teacher.

Susan Tate, who retired after teaching  middle and high school Spanish and mentoring new teachers in Arundel County, MD, for 33 years, now lives and tutors in Mechanicsville, VA.