Polka dots. Before school started, I bought a few packs of colorful polka dot stickers to decorate the institutional walls of my classroom. Polka dots bubble up the wall over my desk, rainbow arc across a corner, and spiral like garland around a large column. The color burst is essential to my happiness in my classroom.
Cat quote tin posters. One of these days I’m going to make a poster of my favorite cat to hang over my desk, but until then I make do with a tin poster that brings me joy.
64 oz water bottle. The straw keeps me from spilling water all over myself (sometimes it’s tricky to drink from a water bottle! Or is that just me?). And the 64 ounces guarantees that I won’t run out of water before my prep time trip to the water fountain for a refill.
Photocopies. Many teachers have stayed completely digital after spending a year teaching virtually, and everything we do in my classroom is available digitally. But I like paper–and so do most of my students. On the rare occasions I assign something that’s only available as a Google doc, it’s inevitable that 20 people ask me for a paper copy. I don’t love the stacks and stacks of copies that now clutter my desk. But I do love having something immediately to hand if a lesson runs short.
Masks. I’ve traded in my beloved Vogmasks for KN95s since Omicron. I’ll never be able to understand the fuss about masks. I haven’t caught so much as a cold since March 2020!
Music. When we were virtual, I played songs at the beginning of class to try to bring the energy up (two favorites for you to listen to: DeJ Loaf and Leon Bridge’s Liberated and Blackalicious’s Chemical Calisthenics). In person, I play mellow hip-hop and lo-fi beats during work time to bring the energy (and noise!) down and help us focus and concentrate.
Art supplies. I’m amazed at how often I find a reason to bring out the colored pencils, crayons, and markers.
Timers. I teach in a two-hour block (which felt short when I taught college but sometimes feels endless teaching high school). I’ve found that short sprints of work followed by brain breaks keep us going.
Texts. I couldn’t get through a single day without my very active texting life. My mom and I text all day long, and I am grateful to her for tolerating the minute-by-minute countdown that comes her way every day during advisory. “17 minutes left…. Only 12 minutes left…8 minutes!! I can do it!” I have several teacher group chats going as well. Having colleagues to rely on for answers, support, encouragement, and humor has made all the difference this year.
To-do lists. I’ve learned that I can actually be very productive at work as long as I have a to-do list to check off tasks. There is SO MUCH paperwork in K-12, y’all. SO MUCH.
Rolling chair. I am so grateful for my comfy rolling chair. It doesn’t look like much, but it’s as comfortable as my much more expensive ergonomic office chair at home. Now if I could just remember to sit down more during the day!
Lanyard. I never thought I’d be a person who wore an ID badge with a key attached to it all day. But I cannot express how nice it is to never EVER have to wonder where in the world I left my keys.
Snack cupboard. Officially, we are not supposed to have food in the classroom. (Apparently the building has a mice problem–which would be solved if my great idea of emotional support cats in each classroom would be adopted). But I can’t teach effectively without ample provision of snacks and treats. Sometimes we just need a granola bar or a piece of candy to make it through the day.
What are your classroom must haves? I’d love to know what I’m missing
My theme for Slice of Life 2022 is finding inspiration in the writing of others. Each day I plan to find my slice in someone else’s words or forms. Today’s inspiration came from 13 Things I Can’t Live Without at Box of Chocolates.