What I Wish I Had My First Year Teaching {Amna from Teach Two Reach}

How technology and retail items have changed in such a short amount of time. When I started teaching 10 years ago...I WISH I had so much of the stuff that I started to accumulate as years went on but those things just weren't that well known or didn't exist back then. So now looking back, I would have loved to have the following things my first year teaching. 

Book Bags and Whisper Phones

This is a two for one type of deal for me. How my Silent Reading time would have been really silent had I made use of book bags and whisper phones.

I made a bunch of whisper phone about 5 years back using PVC pipe and duct tape. Pinterest will give you tons of DIY ways or you can read one of my very first blog posts on my personal blog HERE for how I made mine. 

I also went to the Target Dollar Spot and got a class set of Dr. Seuss themed bags.  I attached each one to a Command hook and students would go once a week to the class library - pick some books they wanted for the week and put them in their bag. When it was Read to Self time during our rotations, they would get their book bags, grab a whisper phone, and get to work. They love the novelty of the whisper phone and so it motivated them to keep quiet. 


Speaking of the book bags I got from Target, I SOOOO wish the Target Dollar Spot existed all those years back. That place is a gold mine but also a money trap! I have to stop myself from going there all the time because otherwise it becomes very expensive. I got all my paper bins, supply caddies, and buckets from the Dollar Spot and they've made my room colorful while providing all the storage I need. 

A Glue Gun

Some schools may not allow this, but after years of frustration of posters and other things falling down from the walls when it got humid, I finally started using the glue gun to hang everything. I would put painter's tape on the back of all my items, put the glue on the tape and then stick it to the wall. That stuff lasted all year! I also used the glue gun to layer different colored borders onto the butcher paper for my bulletin boards. 

These are simple things that made my life a whole lot easier I had known when I first started. I hope you've been getting tons of ideas during this blog series. Don't forget to come back every day this month to gather even more ideas!

What I Wish I Had My First Year Teaching {with A Love of Teaching}

Thinking back to my first year teaching, there are several things I wish I had known about and had. Sometimes the little things can make large tasks seem simple or more enjoyable. Here are 3 of my favorite things as a teacher. I wish I had known about these during that first year trying to survive as a new teacher!

#1 Flair Pens

I never realized I was a pen addict, but in my 15 years of teaching, somehow I have become one. A flair pen addict that is. Not just any pen – must.be.a.flair.pen. (Or, Paper Mate Ink Joy Gel Pens will do, too!) 
How in the world did I ever live without this beautiful, colorful, rainbow of happiness? Okay maybe that's a little much, but these do make me happy!
During my first year teaching, I was happy to have a red ball point pen to check papers with. I had no idea that Paper Mate Flair Pens even existed.
Flair pens are perfect for grading, taking notes, writing in my planner or just doodling. I seriously can’t get enough of them. Another teacher recently introduced me to Paper Mate Ink Joy Gel Pens, and I ended up ordering a pack of fourteen that same night on Amazon.  

A few years ago, I decided to organize my cooking utensils, so I purchased one of those Pampered Chef black spinning organizers for my kitchen counter. Standing in my kitchen one day, it occurred to me that this thing would make the perfect pen organizer. Since I spend more time in my classroom than I do in the kitchen, I dumped all my cooking utensils back in the drawer and hauled it to school. Not only does it organize my pens but it’s perfect for highlighters, sharpies, scissors, white-out – you name it! There’s room for everything in that thing!
This summer while shopping at Target for the one-hundredth time, I ran across this Yoobi pen bag and had to have it! I love how it organizes my pens, and it’s so handy to throw in my bag to take back and forth to school.

#2 Erin Condren Planner

I love my Erin Condren Planner. It took me a few years to bite the bullet and purchase one of these babies, but after using it for a year – I was hooked! Not only do I love how beautifully designed it is, but I also love how I can use my flair pens while writing in it. I love all the stickers and accessories that you can purchase for it.

I may have I have sunk a small fortune in Erin Condren supplies over the past few years. My planner goes everywhere with me. It keeps me organized in my personal life and in my school life. I really could have used one of these during my first year as a teacher!

#3 Google Drive

I’m a technology facilitator at my school, so Google Drive is a huge part of my everyday life and has been a game changer in my teaching style!
Every student at my school has a Google account, and almost every assignment involves using Google Drive with students. I love how students don’t have to worry about saving their work - that can be a nightmare! I also love the sharing feature of Google Drive. I can edit and grade assignments right from my couch at home. Plus, there are so many possibilities for students to create and share awesome projects that they can work on from anywhere! I also love how I can organize my files and access them at school or at home. It would have been so nice to have had Google Drive as a first-year teacher.

What is one thing you wish you had known about and had during your first year as a new teacher? Tell us in the comments! 

What I Wish I Had My First Year Teaching {With The Kindergarten Connection}

Thinking back to my first year of teaching, there are probably a lot of things I would change or wish I would have done differently- but, like most all new teachers - I tried my best! There are, however, a few supplies and tools I have now that I wish I had then.

A Great At-Home Printer

Oh how I love my printer! When I first started teaching, I quickly realized that not having a printer at home just wasn't going to work. Especially if I wanted to have color. So, I had my share of sloooooow printers and made it work.

But this year - I upgraded to this baby - the HP Officejet Pro 8620 and I use HP instant ink - it's like teacher heaven!


This site may have existed when I started teaching - but I wish I had know about it then! I love using YouTube videos for fun songs and learning. But I HATE when I have to dash madly to the computer because a commercial (that I can't guarantee is appropriate) starts blaring halfway through our clean up song.

SafeShare.tv to the rescue! No more pesky commercials or pop up ads.

Tip - make a quick list of your favorite videos in a Google Doc using the SafeShare safe link (not the YouTube one). Then, click and watch your favorites from there! 

Mini Pocket Charts

Again, these were in existence I'm sure - but I didn't realize at the time how wonderful they are! 
Seriously - pocket charts are just one of my favorite things.

There are so many possibilities for independent word building, small groups, and more! I am definitely now a mini pocket chart fan. Sometimes you can find them for super cheap at Target too in their dollar section - so keep your eyes peeled!

P.S - I kept it real fancy and stuck this one to the back of a shelf with packing tape last year. It worked! 

Sturdy Book Bins

I know teachers need to save money wherever we can, but one area I would say to invest in for sure is quality book bins for your students. I have these ones from Really Good Stuff and they have lasted for years! It is worth a bit more in price just to know you don't have to replace them each year. 

What about you? Are there things you have now that you would have loved to have in your first year teaching?

If it's your first year teaching now, what's your favorite tool or classroom item?

Happy Teaching! 

What I Wish I Had My First Year of Teaching (with Lisa from ALL Y'all Need)

I heard about these at The I Teacher K! National Conference and immediately ordered them online. They are an investment, but they are worth every penny! I've have mine for four years now and they lived through Kindergarten and Pre-K. Everything fits and they are easy for the kids to use. 

I honestly don't know what I'd do without this amazing group of individuals. They inspire me, motivate me, listen to my rants, and embrace my journey. If you don't already have a teacher tribe, find a group of teachers on a social media group. You definitely need a tribe for your first year of teaching! 

I just started using Seesaw this past year and it has been a game changer! I've seen such a difference in my communication between home and school. Plus, parents and students are excited to post! I don't feel like I communicated nearly enough when I first started teaching. Seesaw will most definitely help everyone be part of the classroom! 

ESGI has been a game changer when it comes to testing, data, and sharing results with parents. Looking back, I wish I would have known about ESGI my first year of teaching. It would have helped me collect more organized data and I wouldn't have had to make so many copies of tests. 

We hope everyone has a fantastic school year!!!

What I Wish I Had My First Year Teaching {with Aloha to Second}

When I think back to my first year of teaching, oh I think about how much easier it would have been if I had started with a few extra supplies!  These are my top three items I wish I had when I first began this wonderful world of teaching.  I hope you find them helpful. 

I wish I had known about Scholastic Book Clubs.  This is a great online resource to purchase books for your classroom.  You earn points each time books are purchased and then you can use those points to buy books in your room.  The points give you FREE books!  

I was spending so much money in the beginning purchasing my own books.  This website is also great because it allows your families to buy books for their homes, and you receive points each time they buy.  It is SO easy that families can even purchase them online.  You set up an online account and you are given a code.  Then, give the code to your families and they will enter it at checkout.  If they enter your code, it syncs to your classroom and you earn points.  The books are also shipped to school so you can easily distribute them to your students.  Click here to start your book club today!

I wish I had book bags when I first started teaching.  These are my favorite items in my classroom.  They make transporting classroom books so much easier.  My kids are much more responsible and the love carrying their book bags around.  

They simply enter the classroom, place their book bag in their reading bin, and later in the day during book shopping time they can return their book and get a new one.  I also keep a reading folder in their book bag for them to record the books they read.  You can find the book bags here from Really Good Stuff and the take home reading folder information here it is by Rachelle Smith!

I also LOVE my white board easel.  It is small and I can move it all over my room so easily.  I usually have it on my small group table and it makes it easy for me to demonstrate things for my students.  This easel is so handy and even has pockets on the back to store materials in!  I purchased it from Lakeshore Learning.

I hope you are having a great start to your school year, and I hope you find these tips useful for you!  

What I Wish I Had My First Year of Teaching {The Learning Chambers}

Hi friends!  I just started my eleventh year of teaching and I have really come a LONG way since my very first year teaching.  My room was not as organized as my room is now but it was MINE and I loved it!  Here are three things that I wish I had my first year of teaching.

My very first year of teaching, I felt like the struggle to find all of the materials that I needed for the day was real!  I had all that I needed but my book was on the easel and the papers for the lesson were on my desk.  It was a hot mess!  I so wish that I had had a better daily storage option.

I have had these days of the week drawers for the past six years and they have been a total time saver!  I put my read aloud books, printables, and other small materials in these drawers.  Then before I leave for the day, I pop out the next day drawer and place it near my whole group area.  That way I have all my materials in one place ready to go.  It's also been super helpful for when I have to unexpectantly be out and I need a sub.  My last (sixth) drawer serves as my sub tub and I leave extra materials in there for those unexpected absences.

When I went through college, I remember so many of my professors stressing the importance of taking anecdotal records.  But...what they don't tell you is that it is hard to find a system that works for you.  I know my kids by heart and can tell you everything about their learning but administrators need that actually written documentation.

I have used this system for the past four years and it has really worked for me.  I keep a page for each student for each of the 4 nine weeks.  It is so great to turn in for RTI documentation and also for information to share during parent conference.

You can read more about my easy documentation system HERE and grab the freebie.

Trust me on this one!  Your room doesn't have to be perfect, you don't have to get every little thing done each day, and you don't have to stay late every single day.  Get out and leave on time every few days.  You won't be as stressed out and you will actually enjoy teaching more if you spend more time with family and friends.  I wish I had listened to this my first year of teaching!

I hope you have a great first year!  Remember you are a GREAT teacher and you will have a GREAT school year.  Let's all make this the best school year EVER!

What I Wish I Had My First Year Teaching {Enchanted Kinder Garden}

This year starts my 9th year teaching. I am very lucky with how far the world has come with all of the creativity and ideas. However, nine years ago I was on my own. I remember getting online and going to different forums to read what people were doing. There usually was not an image attached so you had to be imaginative. I also remember fumbling around in my room most of the summer because I didn't know what my kindergarten class should look like. I didn't have a style at the time. I didn't have preferences to anything. IT WAS HARD!

Now, it's easy to look back and say what I wish I had. Here's a few from my list...

Who doesn't love a good flair pen? They make listing fun. They make writing goals fun. Notes home... I can go on and on. I love FLAIR pens and didn't use them nine years ago.

My printer is seriously the NUMBER one thing that I love in my classroom. I would give a lot of things up before I give this up. I know tons of people have gone to the instant ink, but my printer has not failed me. I buy off brand toner from Amazon for about $70. It's all the colors and lasts me MONTHS. I print A LOT too.

My Silhouette Cameo is one of my favorite things. I can cut so many things out. My favorite is probably cutting vinyl, but there is a few things that I have in my room right now.


There are so many reasons why I cannot live without a projector. Most of our day involves the projector in some form or fashion. My favorite thing currently is one of my newest resources. This one is timed and we spell out each of the words. We used this at the end of kindergarten and my kids loved it so much!

Without cute clip art, my room wouldn't have the "ME" factor. I love Melonheadz for decor. I also love Educlips for resource creating. The clean lines and easy to identify images are great for primary aged children.