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There is a ton of information out there about what you need for your classroom, what your students need, textbooks, apps, stationery and seating you will need. But I want you to take time and think about some essential items that you will need for YOU in the coming school year. It is something I overlooked for many years until I was gifted by a lovely former parent at the beginning of the school year with a cute box. And inside that box were things we always need but never think to keep in school. I have a list of suggestions here to get you started. Because you may be including items of a personal nature you are going to want to keep this box out of reach and locked away. Any box will do – a plastic shoe box does the job perfectly. If you are giving this as a teacher gift (and your recipient will LOVE it, just as I did), then use a pretty photo storage box or hat box.
Essentials Shopping List:
As we go down the list it will become apparent what essentials are going to be necessary for you and hopefully you will be prompted to add some of your own.
- OTC painkillers. It’s just a no-brainer when you think about it. If you are like me you usually have some Tylenol in your pocket book. But the day you need them there is just one left. Or even more helpful is when you open the container that you have been carrying about for two months only to find a cotton ball wadge. Keep a full bottle in the box (again, making sure that the box is safely secured away) and you will thank yourself in the year ahead. And so will your colleagues.
- Alongside the above – always good to have feminine hygiene products on hand. Don’t need to go into detail here – just have a couple ready just in case you are the kind of person who can’t keep track of a calendar.
Totally not me.
- Wet Wipes or similar. I live in North Carolina and it can get hot. We would come in from recess and I would smell like a dead dog. Thankfully I had some of these on hand to use to cool down and freshen up. Bonus: I smelled like Pina Colada.
- Deodorant for the times you have a meeting or conference after school. I had a small travel sized one, but I love these from Secret:
- Toothpaste and toothbrush. Actually, I don’t want to have these in the classroom – they are messy, the brush has to dry, and I am not laying a toothbrush down on any surface of a classroom and putting it back in my mouth at a later date. Plus, sadly I am not being good and brushing my teeth after lunch – just when I need to freshen up before an evening meeting and I am not able to get home. When I visited my dentist recently they gave me a dry disposable brush that I just had to wet and it was already impregnated with toothpaste – what a great idea. I have searched high and low for them to no avail. So I will share these instead. I have used these things for years – they are great if you fly long distances and want to freshen up before you land – no water needed. Sometimes they are hard to find at the drug store, so online is your best bet.
- Perfume stick. It doesn’t matter what it is, just as long as it smells better than dead dog. In my box was this 4711 cologne stick – an oldie but a goldie! I actually loved the scent so much I later bought a great big bottle of the stuff for less than $20! What can I say – it makes me feel happy!
- Chewing gum. I am not a chewing gum person, but I have found it is great to have when you have to sit in meetings because it is better than biting your tongue. Concentrate on chewing and nodding and you should be able to avoid adding your voice to a debate that you are better off staying out of. And it will give you nice minty breath.
- Eye drops. If you are a contact lens person, these are a must have item. I am ashamed to say I never had them with me and had to send out a school-wide email when it felt like a rock had wedged itself behind my retina. I had been using a brand of cleaner for years where you had to disinfect overnight in a little bubbling case transforming my bathroom into a chemistry lab. I was SO late to the party when my ophthalmologist asked me why I was still doing that. Cool contact eye lens people, you can just roll your clear clean eyes and move on now, you already know the following. But if you are the only other person left on the planet using the chemistry lab, prepare to be amazed. There is a solution that can wash, disinfect, rinse and store your lenses all in one. And…get this…you can rinse and refresh your lens and PUT IT BACK IN YOUR EYE without worrying about searing eye-watering pain and your cornea becoming detached, or waiting for eight hours. No word of a lie: life-changing.
- Shout wipes. I had always used the pen wipes but good ol’ Santa left me some of these in my stocking. I guess Santa knows me well. These things are fantastic. I spilled curry on my t-shirt and thought it was ruined. Used one of these wipes on it and hey presto, it was gone. Can’t say enough good things about them.
- A gift card. To you, from you. Buy a $10 gift card to your coffee shop or smoothie shop of choice and stick it in the box. One rainy day at the end of February when the kids have left for the bus you will need it. You will stare at your classroom floor covered in straws, toothpicks and mini marshmallows and recall how that STEM lesson you began so enthusiastically quickly transformed into a scene from the Exorcist with projectile vomiting and students falling over absolutely nothing and smashing their noses on desks just as your principal walked in to observe you. Just before the fire alarm rang. Take a Tylenol, grab that gift card, leave those marshmallows and CLOSE THE CLASSROOM DOOR. Tomorrow is a new day, my friend.