First Year Teacher Classroom Must Haves
Updated: Jul 30, 2021
I remember the summer before my first year teaching and how I had no idea what to expect! I also remember wondering about what I needed in my classroom. There's so many things you could have in your classroom but what will you actually use and need as a first year middle school teacher?? I am going to share with you 12 classroom items that I LOVED having my first year teaching (and still love). I used all of these things and was so grateful I had them my first year.
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The first item I recommend as a first year teacher is your own personal laminator for your classroom! I was gifted one before my first year teaching and I used it allllll the time. I have THIS ONE and love it. It has worked well and held up for me for a couple of years now! I use my laminator to laminate all my classroom decor, labels, and organization things. I also sometimes use it to laminate presentation slides that I then hang up around the room for students to walk around and see to take their notes. This is especially helpful when you have a sub! I feel like there are endless things to laminate as a teacher and it is so nice to not have to walk down to another part of the school to get the laminating done. I also let my TA's help me with laminating! It's a great task for them to work on.
I also use my paper cutter alllllll the time. I have THIS ONE and it has been great! I could probably use another one! After all that laminating there's usually a lot of cutting that needs to happen. I am constantly cutting things out in my classroom, whether it be classroom decor, student handouts, worksheets, or cards. This paper cutter makes it much faster and easier to cut a bunch at once. I love having one in my own room that I can let my TA's use and so that I don't have to walk down to the copy room to use the faculty one.
THREE HOLE PUNCHER
A 3 hole puncher is another great item to have in your own classroom. I have THIS ONE and it is super cute but has also held up great. I like my students to have a binder for a few of my classes and it is great to have one of these so that students can then put papers straight into their binder. For example, I give my foods class the recipes we make to put into their binders so that at the end of the semester they have a little recipe book! I always had my TA's 3 hole punch the recipes before I needed to give them out to students.
BLUETOOTH MOUSE (OR SOME TYPE OF CLICKER)
Having some type of clicker as a secondary teacher is a MUST. You do not want to be stuck to your desk when you are presenting. I love using this Bluetooth rechargeable mouse as a clicker. I like it because not only does it work as a clicker, but it works as a mouse away from my computer! I can leave my laptop on my desk and walk around and then if I am wanting to share my screen with my students and show them how to navigate a website or my Canvas course, I can simply use my Bluetooth mouse on any flat surface nearby to show them. This mouse doesn't need batteries, you can simply plug it in to recharge. I usually charge it over night once a week!
3 RING BINDERS
I loved having a 3 ring binder for each of my classes. I like the 3 inch ones with the sleeve in front so you can label the front and the spine of the binder. In these binders is where I put all my master copies. I am a very digital person and have everything in Google Drive-- but there are some benefits to having your master copies printed out already. For example, there are times when the internet goes down! If you are needing to make copies you will be grateful you already have the master printed out. Another reason is if you have to suddenly or unexpectedly have a sub! (like when I got quarantined last year...) It is nice to be able to tell a coworker or office secretary where to go to get the master copy so they can make some copies for your class. I put my master copies in a sheet protector and then add them to the binder. I organize each binder by unit in order of how we cover the information. This made my life so much easier when I taught my classes the second time. When I update an activity, I simply print off a new master copy and replace the old one in the sheet protector.
LETTER DESK TRAYS
I have probably close to 20 of these in my classroom! I have these black wire ones and I like the clean simple look of them. I use these for all of my copies and papers that I need to distribute to students. Sometimes we do stations in my classes and there will be 2-3 papers needed at a station... so if I have 4-5 stations, that can add up quick! I also like having multiple so that I can put the copies for each worksheet needed throughout that day's classes in a separate tray and then I can easily set them out for the next class.
TURN IN BASKETS
Hopefully you have started thinking about where students are going to turn things into you. I personally use these file crates as turn in baskets. I have one for each class and I have labeled each one with the class period. I love having larger turn in baskets because of the type of classes I teach. Sometimes the projects or assignments my students turn in wouldn't fit very well in a letter tray. I also like that these can easily be used to transport things in. I have to sometimes move classrooms and I take that class periods turn in basket with me to the other room. It means I can use it to carry supplies or materials for the lesson and then empty when it we get there and my students have the same turn in basket no matter what room we're in. I also love using these file crates because I put 2 file folders in the back of each one and the first file folder is where I put that class's no names. Students know exactly where to look if they think they may have forgotten to put their name on something. The other file folder is for papers that have been graded and are ready to be passed back. This system works well for me but I understand it may not be best for everyone! You may not have space for this large of turn in baskets in your room and that's okay. If that's the case you could just use letter desk trays like I talked about before this or some other type of paper organization item.
I actually recommend having multiple staplers if possible! I was so surprised my first year how often we used the stapler. I have a couple of this cute gold and white one but I also have some plain black ones. I like having one that I keep on my desk for me to use and then a few others for students to use. I use staplers to staple things to my classroom walls, I use them to staple packets together, and I have students sometime use them when turning things in. We also do some projects and activities in my classes where students need a stapler.
This is another item that is great to have multiple of in your classroom. I have this cute tape dispenser for my desk, but having multiple other tape dispensers for students is ideal. Again, we use tape for all kinds of projects and activities. Plus, you never know when a student is going to accidentally tear their paper and want to tape it!
I have 2 of these drawer storage carts and love them. I especially love that they are clear so you can see what is inside. I use mine to store our classroom supplies. I use a drawer for each of the following: crayons, colored pencils, markers, ruler, glue sticks, and scissors. This has worked really well because I can clearly label where they go, plus students can see inside. I like that these aren't too tall to fit under a table because it means I can the space in my room better. I also like that the drawers can come out if needed so you could move the entire drawer of supplies to a place in the room. There are lots of other storage carts out there that you could probably find use for, especially if you don't have much storage space built into your classroom!
INSULATED WATER BOTTLE
When it comes to teaching, you definitely will want a water bottle. I recommend an insulated one because then it will keep your water the temperature you like it (which for me is ice cold). I absolutely love my Thermoflask and have used it for years. I like that it has two lid options so you can choose if you prefer to sip from a straw or unscrew and drink from an opening.
The last item I will recommend actually consists of multiple items... I think you should have some type of emergency kit in your desk. This means things like Band-Aids and other first aid items. There have been so many times a student has a minor paper cut or something and needs a band aid. I am always glad I have some right in my room. But this kit should also include things like SNACKS! and CHOCOLATE! If you are anything like me, you will also be very grateful for some snacks! I always get hungry between the time I eat breakfast and lunch because it's a 5-6 hour time frame between the two. There are also days where you just need some chocolate (or whatever other treat you like).
Alright these are my first year teacher classroom must haves for you!! You can find ALL of my first year must haves on THIS LIST. I hope that this was helpful and wish you all the best in your first year teaching!!