Having just finished up my third day “back” teaching (we are teaching from distance for at least 4 weeks), I find myself exhausted. It’s the natural impact of having been away from our kids for as long as we have been. You know what though? The overwhelming emotion I’ve felt even more so is excitement. Excitement to meet my new students. Excitement to share my passion of the performing arts with them. Excitement to be back.
Back to school shopping is something every kid loves! It’s the time that they get to pick out a few new supplies and get far too many pens. I feel the same way as a teacher. I get excited to get a few new things for the start of a new year. These things help propel me forward in this crazy world of teaching. They help me sustain my newfound positivity. Though I could choose more to add to this list, these are my top 5 Essentials to teaching with newfound hope and energy!
Spice Up The Basics– I enjoy spicy food. The spicier the better. I also enjoy spicing up my wardrobe as a teacher. I feel like as teachers, it is easy to fall into a repetitive trap that has us wearing the same boring polo and slacks every week. Do those clothes give me energy? Do they speak excitement into my teaching? I didn’t think so. I am not a superficial person and I also realize that some people like a more subdued look. That is why I suggest spicing up your basics. I’m not asking you to buy a full dragon face kimono, I’m just asking you to start with your socks.
Socks are an easy and fun way to throw a little spice into your fit. The nice thing is you can also keep them hidden from others, naturally. That doesn’t mean you can’t show them off, but if you are in the beginning stages, that spice can be just for you. You deserve it! One cool way to get a variety of different socks is to try a monthly subscription service. My wife, Christine, got me one from Sock Fancy a couple years ago and I really enjoyed it.
Ties and bowties are another way that I like to spice things up. Though I don’t have a ton of different style dress shirts, I do have A LOT of ties and bowties. I enjoy having the large selection as I can choose a tie that suits my energy that day. There are times I’ve also been able to coordinate a tie with something we are talking about in class. Bowties take the normal tie up a notch. Don’t be afraid of them. They won’t bite!
Comfy Shoes- This is one of those things that we don’t always think about when teaching. I know that I have been the person that didn’t necessarily care how they felt, as long as I had a brown and black pair. Boy was I missing out. As a teacher we are on our feet all day. As a coach, I stay on them after the last bell rings. I wasn’t being very nice to my feet and they finally went on strike.
The nice thing about shoes nowadays is that you can get style with the comfort. You don’t have to settle for one or the other. Take the time to try on multiple variety of shoes and keep your eyes peeled for sales on your favorite shoe brand. I personally follow a couple different social media accounts, specifically for shoe sales. I would recommend doing the same.
I just recently jumped into the fad of wearing nice tennis shoes with chinos. This is something that can be done with ultimate class and style. To top it off your feet will be extra grateful for the added comfort in those tennis shoes. I would recommend trying an all white tennis shoe first with your colored chino. I personally love these Adidas Continental 80 Shoes. The price is to die for as well.
Time Management System- This is a long version of saying a planner. The reason I use the TMS is the fact that I have never really used a paper planner in the past. I would many times forget to use it after a week. I have always been the person to use an online app or calendar to keep my life in order.
Time management is crucial for all people, but even more so as a teacher. When you add coaching onto that…. WOWZERS! When you add directing the plays and musicals on top of that… JESUS TAKE THE WHEEL!!! It is also just a great skill for all people to have. There are only 24 hours in each day and I want us all to maximize them as best as we can. I don’t want important things in our work life and home life to slip through the cracks.
This year I am attacking this with Google calendar AND a paper weekly planner. This is something I chose to do to tighten up my use of time even more. I love all of the things I do and I didn’t want to get worn out along the way. No matter which one you like. Pick one. It needs to become a habit for you. Set aside time every week to plan out the upcoming week. I would also suggest setting aside 5-10 minutes in the early morning or right before you go to bed to remind yourself of the things to come. Staying on top of this will keep us all in better moods. It will keep us in this positive mindset.
Ice, Ice, Baby…and Warm– Did I try to hard there? Maybe, but you’re curious aren’t you? Drink containers are so important as a teacher. We are talking all day making sure that our students understand the tasks at hand, just to go home and talk to our loving family about their days. It’s a vicious cycle for our voices.
Drinking water in general is just good for you. When you add the fact that it can help me get through a day of new concept teaching without having a tickle in my throat, it’s undefeated. In any profession we want to stay hydrated, and if we are working on our health we should be consuming more of that beautiful H2O. Why not have an awesome stainless steel cup to keep it cold? I know it’s more enjoyable drinking it. I even recently picked up two more from the company, Zak!, that sells their beauties for $9.99. Their color choices are also a lot of fun.
As teachers, we also like to have hot drinks. For me that means one thing…coffee. This nectar gives me a kick in the morning and helps me make it through the natural lull after lunch. If I’m drinking coffee I know I want a way to keep it warm. If you haver ever taught you know the feeling…making coffee and not taking your second drink until two hours later. Thankfully there are now great products that help keep these awesome drinks warm for our consumption when we finally get a free moment..between Google Meets.
Lunch at School– The last one to make the list encompasses all the ways we are able to bring homemade meals to school to eat. I’ll be honest, it’s much easier to just pick up some fast food on your prep…does you body really want that? Now don’t get me wrong. I will still go out for lunch occasionally this year, but I am making a concerted effort to bring healthy meals from home. If we are going to bring food from home, we are going to need great containers to carry it.
The first thing that I would suggest is some great Pyrex dishes. These are great glass containers that have been around a LONG time. They do a great job of keeping your food fresh, and they are easy to clean, safe to warm up, and overall better for us then the old plastic varieties. We also recently picked up some, Stasher, reusable bags. These are a super cool item that we have been looking at for some time. They are made from clean silicone and can be reused in place of the plastic sandwich and snack bags we’ve always bought. You can even heat up your food in the microwave with them!
I also think it’s important to have a lunch bag/box that you love. I know it seems silly, but it’s much easier to pack your lunch if you actually like your lunch bag/box. Take the time to look at the endless variety of bags on amazon and other retailers you choose, but make sure you pick one that fits YOU!
I’d love to hear what your ESSENTIAL items are!!!