I think I treated luggage as some sort of status symbol, as if the more bags a teacher carried, the better teacher they were; a constant badge of honour regarding how much work you were carrying around. I know for sure that I only carried one of them because it featured the name of my university down the side.
Now, many years later, my kit is much simpler. I'll show you...
Back in the day of the 'Lesson Observation' grid, there was a specific box for use of ICT. Seems a little silly now, to require a 'good' teacher to HAVE to use technology, but maybe schools were trying to get their money's worth. Either way, technology still plays a huge part in our job, and provides a greater deal of flexibility and ease. Whether it's making resources, lesson planning, tracking data, or communicating, we are at the mercy of electronics. To help me, I have 3 items:
- My Mircosoft Surface Tablet (and pen) is the perfect size, shape and weight for a teacher on the move. It has a detachable keyboard and allows me to work almost anywhere (when charged). The pen is especially useful for resource making as I can draw directly on the screen (making my Maths Challenges for estimating area was especially fun!)
- My Passport External Hard Drive contains everything I need; I'd be lost without it. It has enough memory for complicated Notebook files, video clips I want to use for inspiring writing and music I want to play to make the atmosphere calmer.
- A smaller Memory Stick is always handy for when you have too many files open, to take your Passport out without risking losing everything.
2. Reference Books
Although 'it's only primary education', it can still be tricky to know everything, and even trickier to explain it to a small person. I carry a couple of revision guides with me just to check the definitions of what I'm saying. I also think this shows the children a good work ethic; seeking answers and being prepared to be wrong. Children's revision guides are also very useful for finding new ways to ask the same question. It can be hard to think of new word problems, or an interesting puzzle to rehearse addition of decimals, so a stray textbook can really ignite the idea for that lesson you needed.
3. Health & Safety
Teaching is surprisingly physical. A good lunch, decent snacks and plenty of water are required to keep you alert. I also recommend those simple cold and flu remedies for when you wake up with man-flu (the worst flu); trying to teach fractions while not being able to breathe never goes well. While you'll find yourself in your classroom most of the time, such is the life of an Educator that you might be sent outside on that fire drill you weren't warned about, or you'll kindly offer to cover your friend's playground duty; gloves, my friend, you can never be too careful.
4. Quality Reading for YOU and THEM.
Whether a book you're using as part of your English lesson, or a book you keep for the joy of sharing at the end of the day, carry some form of reading that you can use with the children. This is my, increasingly old, copy of Stormbreaker; my most favourite book in the world (alongside Peter Rabbit). However, I feel it's also important to read the occasional 'teacher' book every now and then. Some of mine were gifts, others were recommended to me. They fire up thoughts and ideas when you need them most, if you're feeling disillusioned with it all, or feel like you're running out of strategies.
5. My Notepad
My notepad is my life and I tell the children they always need to know where I left it. By July it's falling apart and bursting with little papers, but it does the job. I'm not one of those who has a notepad for 'to-do lists', a notepad for Staff Meetings, a diary, a separate little book for planning or data, etc. EVERYTHING goes in this one place. Taking the plastic off the new one in September is one of life's little joys.
Good teaching doesn't require bells and whistles. It doesn't matter what shape your sticky notes are, or how thick your folder is. It's all about you, in your class, with your kids. Equip yourself, both physically and metaphorically, with the tools you need to do that.