Supplies Every New Teacher Needs

This year, I felt for some reason like I was drawing a blank when it was back to school time and I was trying to think of what I needed to make sure I had. I also was mentoring a new teacher so I was trying to be organized. After getting organized I thought of how I would have loved to have a list of what supplies I needed back when I was a new teacher... and apparently I could use some reminders now. So I put together a list of my most used and my favorite supplies for you with a little comment or two about each. Clicking on each image will bring you to Amazon to get more information (affiliate links).
                                                            FLAIR PENS
You already know teachers love their flair pens. Great for correcting, note taking at meetings, drawing... just A+!

Sharpies are my go to for writing on chart paper and labeling EVERYthing.

All sizes- for corralling papers of all kinds!

You need some kind of system for all of the papers and notes you will be sending home. If you don't invest in a mailbox system, put something else in place on day one. Don't try what I did my first year - trying to pass everyone out a notice, homework and other papers at the end of the day. Countless papers got lost and left behind!


More on this in an upcoming blog post but you don't need to go crazy as a new teacher with Pinterest worthy boards. Just get some papers and borders up. Shop around for good deals. And did you know there is now magnetic borders? Eek! Check Lakeshore for them - only sold in stores at this time.

Everyone needs one! Check for good deals at WalMart or ask parents to donate some.

Not one, but at least two or more. If your school only gives you one, you should look into getting extras. It's worth it!

Let't not kid ourselves. Dixon Ticonderoga is the best out there. Easiest to sharpen, last longer and those presharpened ones are amazing. I ask parents to donate them.

Get several sizes - plain yellow is fine but just have a bunch. Countless uses!

If you are new to teaching you might be surprised how many you need and how many uses there are: broken jewelry, game pieces, task cards, leftover snacks, and the list goes on. Have several sizes.
Essential! Have students wipe desks and tables daily.

Have a bunch because students will jam and break them. (just being real with you!) 

 Might seen obvious but needed! if you are new and have to get your own, just start with hand sharpener and ask parents to donate an electric one or hint that it would be a great holiday gift (If parents do that).

We have those terrible cinder block walls which are hard to hang on and my chalkboard (one whole wall of the room) isn't magnetic so Stikki Clips are a godsend.  You can also try things like  command hooks,  putty, and duct tape.

What is on your must have list for new teachers? Let me know what I missed with your comment below! 

How to get Organized with Parent Communication

Parent communication can be complicated, can't it? When I started teaching in 1997, these were the methods of parent communication: handwritten notes/memos, phone calls, and one or both of those were needed to arrange the third type of communication: in person meetings! Now it's a whole new, complicated, ball game! We have:

  • handwritten notes/memos
  • phone calls
  • in person meetings
  • classroom/teacher blogs
  • Twitter
  • Instagram
  • other Social Media
  • tools like
  • email
  • Google Drive
  • and more!
It's a lot to manage and to keep organized! I was recently talking with a colleague and she wanted to know how I organize my parent communication and while I was talking about  it with her, I thought I should share what I do on the blog, too!

We all use email on a  daily basis! But did you know you may be able to schedule some emails in advance, which is a great way to get organized? This depends on your email provider. For Gmail,  you can get an add-on or extension such as Boomerang that allows just that. Usually there is a certain amount of messages you can schedule out in advance (Boomerang has 10 free messages a month). I usually schedule out emails in advance for things that occur regularly or for reminding parents about upcoming events, such as reminders about due dates for book orders or monthly school spirit days. Also, you can save frequent or recurring emails* in a special folder inside your email. I call mine "templates". What is in there? Things like emails about the Halloween parade, which are pretty much the same every year.  When it's that time again, I go in, copy it, paste it in a new email,  and edit for anything that has changed, like the exact date, etc. Don't just hit forward on the email - you want to make it look as if you have taken the time to write a fresh message to parents.
*I find mine in the sent folder after I have sent them and the hit the check box and move them to my new/special folder for future use.

Since there are several ideas just for email, let me sum them up:
  • Schedule e-mails in advance if possible
  • Look into extensions/add ons for your email
  • Put recurring e-mails in a special folder
  • Determine recurring events or reminders that could be scheduled in advance - I imagine there are other similar websites/tools, but I use Remind is a service that allows teachers to text parents (and students if you teach older students) without sharing your personal phone number. It's safe, secure and easy and reminders can be sent right away or scheduled out in advance. I find they have a much higher read rate then my blog. I wish I could get stats on email opens but I'd guess that the amount of messages read on people's phones via Remind is  much higher than email.

Do you have a classroom blog? When my school first asked us to start classroom blogs, one thing I did was look through my paper notices that I kept in a binder, and I typed them out for use in emails and on my blog. Easy and a good place to start if you are new to having a classroom blog. Another tip is that you may be able to schedule your blog posts in advance, as I can with my classroom blog. This is great if you know you have certain posts that you want to go out, such as at the beginning of the year when there is quite a lot of information to share with parents. Get organized and get it on your blog and schedule it out in advance! Also, if you have recurring blog posts, such as those back to school blog posts, there is no reason to retype the whole thing. For example, in Blogger, you can go in to your post listings, find the previous post, copy the text and paste into a new post! Just make sure, like with repeating past emails, you double check everything and edit for details such as dates!

To make new parents more comfortable with you as  their child's new teacher, consider an all about me parent brochure. I got a terrific editable one from Teachers Pay Teachers and if you want to know the exact one, just ask and I will look it up!  Here's an image of the one I did last year!
So, how do you stay organized with your parent communication? Let me know! 

Reasons Why You are So Tired After School

We all know that teachers go home exhausted every day and it is probably is just "the way it is" for all of us. At the end of last year, I was more exhausted than I had ever been and it took me a long time to decompress during the start of the summer. So, I've been thinking about why teachers are so completely spent at the end of each day. I decided to do some reading and personal reflection, and came up with five main reasons behind our fatigue.  Let's find out what they are!

When I was  a new teacher, a coworker told me "teachers make more decisions per minute than air traffic controllers" which definitely stuck with me, but this quote from Dr. Tina Boogren hits home too. Think of all the decisions you make in just a minute. Let's say it's arrival time, which in my second grade class is a particularly hectic time. In a one minute period I may have to decide the answers to these questions: "Where should I put this note from Tim's mother?" "Is Charles struggling with that math problem?" "Should I go to the hall and tell Skye to hurry up?" "Do I have time to get a cough drop?" "The school lunch calendar is not online. Should I call  the office and ask or just wait and see if they announce it?""The lunch sign up pencil isn't sharp - should I sharpen it, replace it, or get student's help?" and then, what do you know, the phone starts ringing or a kiddo asks you a question and the next minute starts! Just thinking about it all is tiring!

Sure, you might feel like  you have no willpower at all, especially when you  are shoving M&M's in your face during recess, but to be a teacher, you must use tons of willpower from the time your students walk in to dismissal time, and continue to do so even when checking email or talking with colleagues after work. A psychologist did research and found that exerting willpower results in a notable drop in blood sugar levels, which leads to feeling of fatigue. Also, it made me feel better when I heard that his research showed that using willpower in one part of your life meant a drop in willpower in other areas of your life. So,  what does that mean for teachers besides the exhaustion and an understanding of why we have trouble saying no to more M&Ms?  Well, it connects to what Dr. Boogren found - if teachers make upwards of 1,500 decisions a day, and many of them involve using willpower to decide to "stay strong" and keep to your classroom rules and guidelines and not give in to a whiny student or complaining parent,  or not check your phone in the middle of teaching, or not roll your eyes or have an cranky tone of voice when responding to an annoyance in class, it's a wonder we're just exhausted and not just flat out passed out cold on the floor!

I mean, I am a little biased here, but I think teachers care immensely about what they do and go to work each day hoping to do their best and help all of their students succeed. I don't have a research-based connection here, but I believe that brings anxiety. Most of the teachers I know are anxious about their job and their day in one way or another. I drive to school some days just trying to stave off the worries that Jake will act out, or that my principal will be critical, or that I will open email and have an angry parent message. I might be at school and worry that I didn't keep my face calm enough when that girl was irritating me. The most anxiety provoking situations for me personally are the big events, like conferences and open house nights. Not knowing what parents will say is scary to me, and as a teacher on a daily basis you never know what your students will say and do. Part of that is what makes it exciting to teach, but also anxiety is exhausting! Plus we have all been there where you are so tired but can't sleep because guess what  - you're lying awake worrying! 

 Since you started teaching, haven't you felt like the amount of tasks you are expected to complete just keeps growing? And it is even worst during the last month of the school school year when administrators and sometimes colleagues and parents add even more tasks you were not expecting to your already over full load. "Oh would you mind filling out this form for our pediatrician?" "We want Talia to go to private school in the fall. Please complete this recommendation", "Here is a new accountability form for special education. It is due next week". ACK! Just think about all you daily tasks that you don't even think about - they are so ingrained - checking your mail box, getting the lunch count form, writing the date on the board and then  the ones that take even more time - lesson planning, material prep, copying, laminating, setting up science experiments and math materials, replying to email, displaying the lessons goals for all your daily lessons, checking in with colleagues about something, collecting and checking homework, and that does not even include actually teaching the lessons and working with the students. NO WONDER we are like rag dolls by the end of the days. I worry that this kind of heavy load is related to why some teachers only last a couple years in the profession. More and more things that used to be administrator's  tasks keep getting passed on to classroom teachers and time to complete them is not added.

If we want to be mentally healthy, we can't be bringing home 50% of our work either. Teachers need time to rest and relax or just attend to family commitments and spend time with friends and family members. We take work home anyway because our work load is overwhelming , which is exhausting by itself, but we need to be careful to take care of ourselves too. I love Lindsay Paull's #okayteacher movement (her blog is Miss Johnston's Journey), which has made a lot of us feel better about not completing every single task perfectly or even completing every little things. Sometimes you have to let things go an be an okay, not a perfect teacher.  There is just too much!

When it comes down to it, we sometimes just  ignore the exhaustion and push through. Why? Teaching is worth it! When that student realizes they are able to solve that math problem, or that parent gets teary eyed seeing her child's reading progress, or you get a thank you note from a high school about what an impact you made... that's what makes it worth it. When you give a child positive reinforcement and boost up their self esteem and they finish the year feeling strong and confident, or when you finally get that little boy the academic support he needs - that is what matters.  Or when you talk with parents all year and in the spring they reach out to their pediatrician, or when that child who seemed resist your efforts all year hugs you on the last day of school and says "I'll miss you. You helped me so much", boy we forgot all that exhaustion and fatigue, don't we?

So what do you think it is about teaching that makes you so exhausted? And what makes it worth it to you? Feel free to comment below! Meanwhile, I will leave you will a couple of funny Pinterest pins for teacher tired!