Teachers spend an average of about $500 out of their own pockets every year on supplies for their classroom. If you're like me you are probably one of those teachers bringing that average up, because unfortunately there are just so many things you need to do your job well that your school may refuse or not be able to provide for you. My first year teaching was probably the worst in the spending department because
1. I was starting with NOTHING
(I mean literally, not even a single book in my new classroom, and curriculum from the 70s)
2. My teaching salary left much to be desired...
It is so hard to know what you need that first year, so after a few years in the classroom (and thousands of dollars later..) I bring you the top 5 things I wish I had my first year teaching.
Labeling is so crucial for my OCD organization needs but it can take FOR-EV-ER. Not to mention relabeling every time a new student is added, transferred, or moves. So having a label maker really helps speed up the process. This is my favorite label maker, the DYMO Letra Tag Plus. I'm pretty sure I snagged it at Target, because lets be honest that's where 90% of the items in my classroom are from ;)
I type in the name once and print it as many times as I need in various sizes. I like to use these to label cubbies, folders, hanging files, binders, and tons more. If you already have a label maker you know it is so worth the $20 ish dollar price tag.
Do you love to stick things up on the white board as much as I do? Then stock up on magnet tape!
Seriously it's a strange addiction of mine. I have found tons and tons of uses for this stuff. Cups with math manipulatives, rulers, popsicle sticks for making shapes, markers and more.
Magnet tape on clothespins is one of my favorite ideas I've had. I usually have a few of these handy for all kinds of random uses. Like directions, work samples, the dreaded no name papers, and lost articles of clothing...you may laugh but 5 year olds just canNOT keep track of mittens to save their life and I've been known to have a stray sock hanging from my board from time to time.
I love using it to keep post its stuck up on the board because I use them all the time to write notes, my thoughts while reading, kids thoughts while listening to a story, notes about behavior, observations for assessment, a reminder from the office that just HAD to call in the middle of share time, and so much more.
So I have a confession to make...I HATE putting up bulletin boards. Seriously, I think it's because it takes me forever trying to get every piece perfect and then the staples don't go in right, everything starts falling, so I have to restaple and it becomes a mess. Until I found the best stapler in the world! *cue angels singing*
The paper pro stapler is a lifesaver to say the least. My students are not allowed to touch this little piece of heaven on my desk. Not only is it great for bulletin boards, but it is amazing for stapling little paper books together, and I may have even used it to staple things to the wall a time or two...(don't tell my custodian!)
I can't believe I even survived 2 years teaching before purchasing this next item, a Scotch laminator. For real, this baby has come to my rescue so many times because when you hear the dreaded words "the laminator is broken" or "no more lamination for the rest of the year" panic ensues. Especially if you are on your only prep for 2 days, the kids will be back from music in 10 minutes and you HAVE to get this center game made for your red math group!
Trust me on this one, you will get more use out of this baby than you even know. You may even start laminating things at home and people will think you're nuts but it will make you smile :)
And the last thing I wish I had my first year teaching was Teachers Pay Teachers. And I mean as a BUYER not a seller people (those first years I didn't have a minute to spare, so goodness knows what kind of crazy things I would have been creating).
But remember how I said my first classroom had no books and curriculum from the 70s? TpT would have been an amazing resource to go to to find printable books, centers, activities, and games to engage my kiddos. Instead I spent a million hours online searching for every last idea I could find. Then another million hours creating games and centers from construction paper, die cut machines, markers, etc.
So if you are just starting out in the classroom, I'm sure your shopping list is 10 miles long, but these are my favorite long term big purchases that really would have made my life so much easier the first year, but also every year after!