What do I need for my classroom?

Discussion in 'Secondary Education' started by katepalo, Jun 29, 2016.

  1. katepalo

    katepalo Rookie

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    Jun 29, 2016

    Hey everyone! I'm a new teacher who just signed her contract. I'll be teaching 7th and 8th grade English Language Arts. I was able to visit my classroom today and I got very lucky in that it is clean with lots of windows. I also have tables with 4 to a table instead of individual desks. With that being said, I'm unsure of everything I need to get for my classroom. Does anyone have a list or perhaps advice of what is essential? Or perhaps ideas of how to set up a classroom with tables. Any advice is greatly appreciated!! Thanks!
     
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  3. Mrs. K.

    Mrs. K. Enthusiast

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    Jun 29, 2016

    When I taught 7th grade, I quickly figured out that my students needed to face the front of the room. They just couldn't cope with being within their classmates' line of sight; they were far too distracted. That was my experience, anyway.

    It's been a long time since I've worked with this age group, so I'll let the MS teachers take it from here!
     
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  4. CharRMS

    CharRMS Companion

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    Jun 29, 2016

    Congrats on the job! I teach 7th grade ELA and last year was my first year. Here is a list of things that I bought in the beginning last year.

    1. Stapler (buy one for you and one for the kids. My favorite is the PaperPro.)
    2. Hole punch (follow same as above)
    3. Pens (buy your favorite kind and in many colors and then buy the cheaper kind for the kids to use. I bought a mixture of black, blue, and read)
    4. Class set of scissors (I tried interactive notebooks)
    5. Glue sticks (INS)
    6. Crates, baskets, etc (figure out how you're storing materials, kids are turning in papers, how are you decorating, etc)
    7. Bulletin board borders (I got mine at the Dollar Tree and used plastic tablecloths as the backgrounds)
    8. Tape dispenser (I got mine at the Dollar Tree, and it has worked well for being so cheap)
    9. White board markers (I bought Expo for myself and the Walmart brand for students. Guess which ones they liked more? The Walmart ones because of having more colors, and I liked the price! :) I don't like writing on the board with a faded marker, so once the marker started fading, I put it in the marker box for my kids.
    10. Pencils (If you think you have enough, buy more. They're cheaper during back-to-school sales.)
    11. Binders, dividers, and sheet protectors
    12. Clorox wipes (My kids actually brought these in, but I wish I had bought more myself because we used them a lot to clean desks.)
    13. Germ-x (refer above)
    14. Sticky notes and note cards
    15. Crayola crayons and coloring pencils (my kids this year preferred coloring pencils and this brand works the best in my opinion)
    16. Markers (I bought crazy-art because they were cheaper, and they lasted pretty much all year.)
    17. Construction paper (I wish I had bought this during the school sales: comes in handy for projects)
    18. Curtains (I used twin flat bed sheets for my curtains. They were cheap and great colors!)
    19. Candy! (It is amazing how much a middle school student is motivated by earning a piece of candy! I did not buy chocolate in case of allergies. Buy candy after holidays; it is so much cheaper!)
    20. Wax-warmer (Middle school kids after gym class: enough said! lol)
    21.Tissues when on sale. (You will run out right when you need them the most. By Christmas, we were using toilet paper until I was able to get more tissues. One of our clubs had our kids bring in tissues as their service project.)
    22. Duck tape (there will be a binder needing to be fixed and a bit of duck tape, the pretty kind, will go a long way.)
    23. Sharpies (I love grading with Sharpie fine point markers)
    24. Poly folders with prongs (I wish I had bought these for my kids in their class colors. I have three classes and each class is color coded: blue, pink, green.)

    There's plenty more, but that is all I can think of at the moment. Before you buy a lot of supplies, see if your school gives you a set amount of money for the classroom. Also, add some of these things on your supply list for the students. I did not personally buy enough of everything that my kids needed for class, but I did have extras on hand for when they were needed. You can also use donorschoose; I put a project up for a class set of dictionaries. As soon as the back-to-school sales start, start gathering up supplies: Walgreens, Staples, Officemax, Walmart, and Dollar Tree are my favorite places to shop during Back-to-School.

    Create your class expectations first and design your classroom management and that will help you decide what is essential for you and your students. How do you what your classroom to run? What are your expectations for your students? What can your students expect from you? What is your classroom management strategy? What are your school expectations?

    My other piece of advice is to create a "Tools" drawer in your filing cabinet. I have snacks, quick microwave meals (I always manage to forget lunch and sometimes don't like what the cafeteria may have), silverware, plates, etc.


    If you need help with anything, feel free to send me a private message or ask as many questions as you need.
     
    Last edited: Jun 29, 2016
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  5. MrsC

    MrsC Multitudinous

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    Jun 30, 2016

    I teach grade 7 and have tables in my room. It's my last day today, so things are a bit hectic this morning, but I'll come later today to try to post a couple of arrangements I've used over the last couple of years.
     
  6. mollydoll

    mollydoll Connoisseur

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    I buy as little as possible. Other than always having healthy snacks for hungry kids, I don't buy supplies. Kids can buy their own or the school can pay for them. I teach many students in dire circumstances, but once the first pencil ends up on the floor or in the trash can, I'm through. Kids don't respect supplies.

    I'm fortunate in that my current position has a nice budget for almost anything I'd want or need. I don't hand out the pens and pencils very often. I refill the container every few months. It's ridiculous and wasteful. Last time, I ordered purple pens and green staples. The kids were very excited about the staples. I had 18 yr old boys unnecessarily stapling things just for the staples.

    I feel that by middle school, kids can be responsible for their own pencil. There will always be a helpful fellow student with a loan. I've found with my 9th graders that once they get that I won't provide supplies they will manage to bring their own. I make clear at the beginning of the year that anybody who genuinely needs something is welcome to ask me. Those kids usually take care of the supplies, so I keep a stash of nice, shiny supplies in cute styles for them. All kids won't ask, so I also just give them to students I notice lack supplies after the first few days of school. This usually isn't many students--maybe 5-10 total out of 130 kids.

    I definitely don't buy tissues. I've found that kids will prefer to use school toilet paper to bringing in tissue donations. My first year teaching, I spent a fortune on tissues and hand sanitizer and I just couldn't afford it.

    I probably sound mean and grinchly, but I'd rather spend my money on things I want or organic blueberries for my parrot, and food for kids who are often hungry.
     
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  7. vickilyn

    vickilyn Multitudinous

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    Jun 30, 2016

    I go online, whether Ebay, or regular websites, and buy cheap mismarked pens (cheap for the kids - they will walk off with them, no matter what), I find deals on good Dixon yellow pencils, and buy in bulk. Get to know your neighbors, and see what can be "shared" in cost or like goods. For your own pens, make sure they you have more blue pens than you think you could ever use, because many documents must be signed in blue ink, and if someone borrows your pen, you may never see it again. I invested in a heavier duty electric pencil sharpener, and it was worth every penny - still functioning and fast. Label or engrave anything that is yours. I brought in my own shelves, and I take them out every summer, to make sure that they don't disappear. I do buy snacks - there are students who don't get fed in the morning, and hungry children don't learn well. I like the idea of colored staples, but I don't spend much on paper clips or fancy post-it notes. I keep eraser caps, since it will cut down on frustration and save the pencils. I buy colored pencils at thrift stores dirt cheap (almost free), and use contact paper on large coffee cans to make them available. Rule #1 for colored pencils - they can't be sharpened in my electric pencil sharpener. Find a hand model for them - the soft core gums up the works. I always have two full size staplers, masking tape, any creative supplies I find dirt cheap at thrift stores, colored papers that I find on clearance, labels I find on clearance, remnants of yarn (you would be surprised how that gets used), and any card stock that I can get for free or almost free.

    Part of the trick is to find other teachers who know where to get ____ cheap, so there can be some bartering going on if you found a great buy on ballpoint pens for the kids in bulk. I buy the loss leaders, like cheap notebooks, journals, folders, etc. when on sale, and refuse to but such things at regular price. I do keep a bottle of lotion (cheap stuff), but limit buying tissues. If they go discounted store brand with money off, I will buy the large boxes when I find them - the small boxes are useless. I search link (plug for my thread) that offer free teacher resources, including posters, etc. to decorate. I never buy those things, but I will laminate my best resources.

    I buy cheap sheets at thrift stores and use them as my BB backgrounds. They are amazingly durable, even with staples going in, coming out, more staples, etc. Even the knit ones work, twin is almost always big enough, and they can usually stay up all year.
     
    Last edited: Jun 30, 2016
  8. Ima Teacher

    Ima Teacher Virtuoso

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    Jul 1, 2016

    Don't buy anything until you see what the school will provide, and then just get basics. I bought so much stuff that sounded good that I never used. I'd suggest buying things as you see a need for them.
     
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  9. Peregrin5

    Peregrin5 Maven

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    Jul 3, 2016

    I bought everything I knew I needed (paper, supplies, and activity-wise) for the first week of instruction (because as a new teacher I didn't really know what my school would provide). You may find there is a place where a lot of supplies and materials get stored that never get used. I found a lot of file organizers and wire bins for collecting homework in our staff room.
     
  10. Rabbitt

    Rabbitt Connoisseur

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    Jul 3, 2016

    Non-fiction newspaper
    Read aloud ideas
    silent reading daily
    free writing daily
    Read the school provided book club books
     
  11. kaitydid

    kaitydid Rookie

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    Jul 3, 2016

    I taught 8th grade ELA last year, and by the end of the year, I joked that there are only five things I need to teach middle schoolers: paper, pencils, Kleenex, Germ-X, and candy. If I could only get five things to teach my classes, I would pick the five listed above and would be totally fine!

    I agree that you should first look into what your school will provide for you (materials, budget, etc.) before you go crazy on the spending. Start with the basics and then figure out what you need as you go along. Otherwise, you'll find yourself with a lot of stuff you don't need. ChaRMS has a great list that's pretty similar to what I bought at the beginning of the year and consistently needed throughout the year. I do recommend adding a basic First Aid kit to the list. I got one from Walmart, and it was so handy to have Band-Aids/bandages and disinfectant nearby. It saved me a bunch of time--and the school nurse's (unless, of course, it was a true emergency).

    It's easier said than done, but don't stress about getting your classroom 100% perfect by the first day of school; worry about your classroom arrangement and procedures first. My classroom decorations were very basic at first (some posters, colored lettering for signs, bright-colored curtains) because I didn't have a lot of money or time due to various reasons, but having my classroom under control made the rest of my year so much easier. The fancy decorations can come later (and they did; I eventually added more color and created an owl theme my students loved). Until then, do what you can afford. Student work makes great (free) decorations! That being said, I suggest that, if anything, you get your windows covered with curtains or colored paper. My 8th graders were so easily distracted by what was happening outside, so when the windows were covered, they weren't tempted to get off track.

    I had individual desks, but a teacher I closely worked with had tables of four. She made it work quite well. None of the students had their backs turned to the board, and this helped them pay attention and stay focused. She also kept all reading material and all basic supplies (tape, colored pencils, paper, etc.) in a box placed in the center of each table so that students wouldn't have to get up during the lesson. Another teacher I knew taped numbers to each corner of the table so that when she changed assigned seats, formed groups for activities, or asked certain students to do a particular task, the students knew exactly where to go/who she was referring to.

    I hope this helps!
     
    Last edited: Jul 3, 2016
  12. katerina03

    katerina03 Devotee

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    Jul 12, 2016

    I agree. I expect my 6th graders to come with their own supplies. I ask for student donations for whole class use of tissues and construction paper. I used to supply them with so much, but after 10 years I feel they need to be responsible for those items. I do have a class stapler and hole punch, but that's it.
     
    Last edited: Jul 12, 2016
  13. katepalo

    katepalo Rookie

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    Jul 22, 2016

    Do you still happen to have any advice?
     
  14. MrsC

    MrsC Multitudinous

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    Jul 22, 2016

    I'm so sorry. It was a crazy end of the year and then I had some personal upheaval right at the beginning of the summer and this went right out of my mind. I'll post a document later tonight of a couple of the table arrangements I've used.
     
  15. MrsC

    MrsC Multitudinous

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    Jul 22, 2016

    Not very neat, but here are a few of the arrangements I used most often (9 tables). I had 3 or 4 students at each table--never with their backs to the front of the room. I had 28 Grade 7 students last year. Next year, I'll have more so need to figure out how to get one or two more tables into the mix.
     

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  16. otterpop

    otterpop Phenom

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    Jul 23, 2016

    This was a really cool thing to create. :) Also, it appears you must have a good sized classroom? Mine is tiny.
     
  17. MrsC

    MrsC Multitudinous

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    Jul 23, 2016

    My room is one of the largest in the building, but there isn't a lot of extra space. I do have a small space by the door where I can put one or two extra tables as break out space. I don't seat students there permanently because they can't really see the whiteboard from there. Grouping the tables does give more floor space.
     

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