Top 10 Things Every Teacher Needs in the Classroom

Basic Supplies

Pencils (colored & standard), pens, crayons, markers, notebook paper, tape, index cards, poster board, notebooks, folders, erasers, construction paper, and scissors. You’ll probably come up with your own, personal list as well!

Filing Cabinets/Boxes

Use plastic tubs or cardboard filing boxes to store holiday projects, art projects, special books, and supplies. Be sure to label these boxes with the name of each project or unit. Or, keep different boxes for different students as an easy organizational tool.

Classroom Rules

It’s vital to establish rules on the very first day of school. Invite students to contribute a set of expectations about behavior. Try to keep your list to about five general specifications so students can remember the entire list.

Substitute Teacher Packets

Create a substitute teacher folder or binder early in the year. Use it to file class lists, fire drill rules, seating charts, class schedules, and a general plan for the day for substitutes to follow. You might also include the names and numbers of helpful teachers and teacher’s aides, plus office procedures and classroom policies.

Museum of Student Work

Show your students how impressed you are with their work by dedicating a section of the wall or bulletin board to their completed assignments, drawings, and other projects. Make sure that each student’s work is displayed often.

Personal Library

Books, newspapers, magazines…these are all vital for the classroom. They may encourage your students to spend their free time reading instead of staring into space. Just remember to write your name in everything you want to hang on to!

Collection of Awards & Certificates

Congratulate your students for outstanding work, achieving perfect attendance, being a good listener, and much more, with awards and certificates.

Introductory Packets for New Students

Make your life easier by creating a packet of materials that includes everything new students might need to assimilate into your classroom. Prepare lists of rules, procedures, current assignments, and other items you think a student entering mid-year might need.

Grade Book

It’s important to keep all of your students’ grades in one place so that you can easily see when students are doing well, improving, or letting their assignments slip. Try an online grade book for the quickest and easiest way to keep track of grades, while also allowing your students access to their records.

And finally…

Perspective, a grain of salt, a sense of humor, an open mind, patience, a positive outlook, plans B & C & D, commitment, flexibility, compassion, hope, and creativity.


10 Things Every Teacher Needs To Survive

What a teacher needs depends on the teacher.

Emerging learning trends, data management resources, literacy strategies, digital tools, exemplar curriculum models, increased or decreased autonomy, classroom management tips–this is a list that could get long fast.

But sometimes it can be those less visible characteristics that can determine a teacher’s long-term success. Below I’ve listed 10 ‘things’ every teacher needs to ‘survive’ in the classroom. Some of these are abstract, like mindset, while others are skills like organization and time management. I just tried to brainstorm a variety of factors that can contribute to teachers ‘making it.’

Success in many endeavors in life can be reduced to knowledge, mindset, and opportunity. Knowledge can create ability, awareness, and potential. Mindset can lead to motivation, desire, and creativity. And few things can happen without opportunity.

So to the list below. Some are super obvious and practical; others less so. I just listed each ‘thing’ and a brief justification for each. Ideally, each would benefit from a post of its own, then maybe an eCourse and a book. Maybe one day.

10 Things Every Teacher Needs To Survive

  1. An open mind

Imagine someone with a closed mind surviving in a 21st-century classroom.

  1. Confidence born from competence

Confidence is absolutely crucial or the job can eat you alive. But it must be confidence born not from ‘swagger’ but competence in your content area, general pedagogy, and the interpersonal transactions that make it all happen on a daily basis.

  1. A curious and playful mindset

This is how great teachers become that way; they have it in year one and–somehow–never lose it.

  1. Time

More time is by far the thing I believed I needed most as a teacher and it’s not even close.

  1. Organization skills

This goes a long way in giving more time (and I was really bad at it).

  1. Specialized knowledge

Whether you’re talking about pedagogy, instructional design, learning models, technology integration, content area expertise, or any other ‘strand’ of teaching, at some point no matter how much time and confidence and organization you have or how curious and playful your mindset remains, you’re going to have to know what you’re doing–how to grow students.

  1. A sense of progress

Imagine a teacher thriving in the classroom without one.

  1. A support system

There are going to be days when all the knowledge and mindset and coffee in the world can’t help–where nothing you do seems to work. That’s where this comes in. Whether you’re talking about a PLN to assist with a literacy strategy or a best friend who knows you need a hug, support is necessary to survive in the classroom.

  1. Humility

The more humble you are, the more likely you are to absorb the lessons and grow. Humility is central to a growth mindset and isn’t mutually exclusive with confidence.

  1. Cognitive agility

The ability to solve problems on the fly, assess understanding, imagine a lesson, respond with a kind heart, analyze an opportunity–teaching not only demands a lot but it demands a wide range of a lot. I’m convinced that there are few professions as demanding on the mind, heart, and soul as teaching.

The ability to think laterally, look ahead, demonstrate resourcefulness, etc.–this is the kind of stuff that separates teachers who survive from the ones who do not.


Other Teaching Skills & Personality Traits

What other sorts of skills and personality traits can prove useful in surviving as a teacher? Communication skills, the ability to see the very best in others (which can help you inspire others)–there’s so much that can serve you. Below I’ve added a small handful of other qualities that can serve you well in your craft as an educator.

  1. Optimism

You’re never as good as you think you are, and never as bad as you think you are either. Always see the glass half-full because the alternative serves no one.

  1. Service Mindset

Teaching is a service profession–carry it in your heart, your thoughts, your words, and your actions.

  1. Selective Introversion

Collaboration is forced on the 21st-century teacher from all directions. Sometimes it helps to take a step back and decompress, regroup, and prioritize alone.

  1. Agility

When everything changes direction quickly, you need to be able to as well. Data teams, new standards, new technology, new local priorities–the only constant is change.

  1. Energy

See 1-7.

  1. Humor

When all else fails, laugh.

  1. Self-awareness

Knowing your limits and how to take care of yourself, for example. You can’t serve others if you’re not well. This is obvious but easy to forget during the busy school year when peer pressure and ‘local norms’ for teacher behavior can promote unhealthy behaviors that are unsustainable in your teaching.

  1. Whatever perspective serves you

This depends on your strengths and ‘weaknesses’ and experience level and local circumstance. I’d call it a ‘growth mindset’ and that’s a big part of it but it’s not just about flexibility and growth and ‘being positive’–it’s about knowing what you need and the people around you need and how to make it all work in a way that’s beautiful and efficient and sustainable for everyone involved.