What’s in my teaching bag?

I’ve seen so many tech YouTubers talking about what they carry with them on the daily. They range from expensive camera equipment and laptops to thousand-dollar-headphones.

I am not a tech Youtuber. I can not afford expensive camera equipment, nor do I need it. I am a Secondary History teacher and blogger who’s compiled a list of everything that he takes to work every day. This should be an exhaustive list that you might want to use as a model for the things that could go with you to work or placement each day. It should cut down on any unnecessary additions and save your back and shoulders from aching in the process.

I’ve broken this down into sections which should make the contents of my bag easier to navigate.

Essentials

The bag that I use is a Regatta backpack.* It’s durable, has loads of pockets, and has been crafted to more evenly distribute the weight across your upper body, rather than only in a few areas, which was the case with my old bag that I used on placement.*

In the main compartment I keep a large lunch box (I am a hungry man), my hourly-marked water bottle and a small thermos that I was gifted from University of Birmingham. The water bottle is a worthy investment because it ensures that I stay hydrated, and the thermos is the first of its kind that I’ve ever used with a fully-sealed top, keeping my hot drinks hot for longer.

I also keep a pot of mixed dried fruit and nuts with me at all times, so that I can healthily snack on-the-go, before coming home to healthy, tasty and balanced pre-prepared meals.

Documents and books

I like to have the two textbooks that we use for our GCSE courses in my bag in case I need to copy an information sheet for the kids – or to remind myself of a specific detail from the course.

I also have a physical copy of the rough mid-term plan of what content we’re teaching Key Stage 4 kids when, though this has changed a little to cope with the challenges of COVID. What I don’t have is an onslaught of huge notepads, since all my planning is now on either OneNote or Apple’s Notes app. Doing so cuts down on the weight dragging across my body, which is a must since I’ve still not got my own classroom and need to traipse across the school to meet students in various rooms throughout the day. Hopefully that will all change once the threat of COVID passes.

For now, I keep about 30 sheets of lined paper in the folder that I carry around, which is full of the day’s resources. It’s mainly there for emergencies, like if a student forgets their book, which happens more often than you might think.

I also take my markbook, provided by my school, everywhere with me, and my trusty Bullet Journal, which helps keep my life organised. My school did also provide me with an academic diary, but it was so huge that I’ve left it at home. I find that the BuJo offers the most flexibility when it comes to arranging and organising important dates.

Stationary

Yes, I am one of those teachers who loves stationary – but not, perhaps, in the same way that you do. My desires for pens, pencils and fancy notebooks boils into those 4-point pens that BIC sell.* I have various systems for each colour, with red and green, for instance, referring to different modules in a child’s book, making it easier to see what’s what in my mark book. I’ve little need for carrying thousands of different pens around for the sake of something looking pretty.

I have two regular 4-point pens, one fancier one with colours like light blue and purple, a single highlighter to point out important data in my mark book, like assessments, a ruler, and a good four or five black marker pens for the whiteboard. I have a stapler, with plenty of staples, a glue stick and thousands of paper clips – used for organising resources in my daily folder.

Technology

I am a teacher who loves his tech. So, in one of my bag pockets is the iPad and stylus that my school provided for me. I’ve already reviewed the stylus (it’s well worth the investment), but not the keyboard that I also use.* It’s lightweight, portable and remembers the connections to two different bluetooth devices which it can easily switch between. If I’m working away from a desk and writing long-form text, it’s invaluable.

Miscellaneous

What’s also important for teachers to have on them?

  • Paracetamol; I’ve had a few headaches while at work and a tablet or two sorts me for the day.
  • Hand sanitiser; obviously
  • Lip balm; cracked, dry lips are not the one, wherever you are
  • Lightning cable and 20,000MAh power bank*; great for my iPad and Logitech stylus if I forget to charge them the night before. I keep a USB-C cable with me too, for my phone, but the battery lasts the day. If not, I can let it die until it charges when plugged into my car.

There you have it: this is what I take into work every day. What’s in your teaching bag?

*Any affiliate links may provide me with a small percentage of the total sale.


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