My Favorite Teacher Things From Year One

by - June 20, 2023

A couple of weeks ago, I wrote about my first year of teaching and what it had taught me. Now, I'd like to share the products and resources that helped me the most throughout the year. These are the products that helped keep me organized, helped me plan, and inspired me.

Teacher Planner - In general, I would not survive without a planner. I've used one for pretty much every aspect of my life for as long as I can remember. This planner, however, was specifically designed with teachers in mind. It not only allowed me to see the month as a whole, but the way it broke the days of the week down into segments was really helpful for pacing my classes. That said, there was quite a bit to this planner I ended up not using, like the built-in grade book and the schedule pages. It also was a year-and-a-half long, which in terms of the price was great, but in terms of planning was a bit weird. I didn't want to end up with this upcoming school year spread over two different planners. And in hindsight, I didn't like that the planner could only lay flat or be closed.

Teachers Pay Teachers - No doubt about it. I probably would have sunk without TPT. As a new teacher, I spent a lot of time creating things. TPT helped lessen that load and gave me inspiration. As with pretty much all aspects of life, I did find certain 'stores' that I like above most others: The Daring English Teacher, Lovin' Lit, and The Hungry Teacher are my top three (they're all middle grades ELA).

Pinterest - I feel like I might have used Pinterest just as much as TPT. A lot of times it led me to resources on TPT, but it was a wonderful resource for writing prompts, project ideas, bulletin board inspiration, etc.

USB Drive - I rarely brought my school laptop home, and I honestly didn't want all of my stuff stored on Google Drive (the internet isn't always reliable, y'all, both at home and school). My USB drive is where all of my lessons, graphic organizers, worksheets, etc. are stored so that I can easily move them from device to device. I have a SanDisk Cruzer Dial that I LOVE (my exact one isn't pictured because it's a pattern that apparently is no longer available). I'm pretty sure it's 32GB and so far hasn't run out of space, and I've got a lot of stuff saved on it.

PowerPoint / Canva - I'm grouping these together because I used them in conjunction with each other a lot. I like PowerPoint better than Google Slides - it's a familiarity thing, not a statement on which one is better, although it is a plus that PowerPoint isn't reliant on internet to work. I've had a Canva pro account for awhile because of my blog and previous job. I like that it has such a huge library of stock photos and unique graphics that I can use to customize my lessons.

Classroom Screen - I absolutely love this website. I use it to display the class's daily to-do list, important dates, etc. It's what's guaranteed to be up on my white board if I'm not doing slides. It also has a timer, noise level monitor, and lots more cool features.

Kami - This was one of my most-used programs. Kami was so great for annotating texts with my students. It saved sooooo much paper. It's also a good way to get them ready for the digital features of the state test.

Plastic Expanding Files / Desk Organizer - This was my best organizational hack for the year, hands down. I used one file for each day's lesson materials. Not only was it helpful for keeping me organized, it made unexpected absences easier. Even if I didn't have copies already made, the master copies for each day were already in their designated folder, and those folders were in an organizer I got specifically to fit them. It also has a horizontal shelf as well as a divided drawer that I used for other random things throughout the year.

Hanging Folders / Organizer Box - We have a very specific writing curriculum, and it requires us to keep all pieces of the writing process completed by students. I needed a way to keep it all organized without sacrificing a ton of space. This system worked wonderfully. However, the box/basket was a little flimsy and bent easily. I'm probably going to replace it for next year with something sturdier.

Turn-in Baskets / Wire Baskets - These helped me keep in-class material for each of my classes separated, which was essential not only for my own organization but for my students as well. It cut down on assignments getting lost because they weren't in the right spot and kept everything fairly neat, which my clutter-anxiety needed, and it also helped establish routines for each class. I can't link to the wire baskets I used for journals because they're no longer available.

Lined Sticky Notes - I use sticky notes for everything, but these lined ones were particularly helpful when sending assignments to ISS or when giving out make-up work.

Imodium / Excedrin Tension Headache - I 100% have a medicine cabinet drawer in my desk. It's a habit from working at the TV station that's proven especially useful in the classroom. These two medicines are the ones I reached for the most often, and I'm not sure I would have survived without them.

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