Former American President and Army General Dwight Eisenhower apparently once said that “The Jeep, the Dakota airplane and the Landing Craft were the three tools that won the war”. Other quotes attributed to him will also add the Sherman tank, bazooka and atomic bomb to that list. The natural question, then, is: what are the jeeps and atom bombs in the teacher’s stationary arsenal?
1 - A diary/planner
The Number 1 item on the list for a reason. Homework, assignments, exams, meetings, reports due, marks due, parent correspondence. It is a teacher’s lot to have 99 things to do and then one more pops up. Without a planner, you’re going to sink fast. Record, prioritise and plan and you’ll thrive and survive.
2 - Record keeper
The ideal diary/planner and record keeper are one and the same: daily planner/diary at the front and record pages at the back. As it is, let’s assume that not all planners and record keepers are born conjoined. Record keepers are another essential piece of hardware. Student attendance, marks, homework completion, behaviour. The ability to draw on this data, whether it’s reporting time or discussions with students, parents or colleagues, is critical.
3 - Post-It Notes
I adore these things and their versatility means they should also have pride of place in your store of stationery. They are ideal for scratching down spontaneous ideas and reminders, their adhesive ensuring that they can be kept in your field of vision at your desk (instead of being forgotten behind the covers of a notebook). Not only that, but highlighting important pages in books and records, colour-coding, a teaching tool and colleague communication. Is there anything they can’t do?
4 - Stamps
What. A. Timesaver. Discovering these was like the leap from snail mail to the iPhone. Homework checks, work feedback, directives, anything. Personalise your own stamps and you’ll never look back.
5 - Whiteboard markers, multiple colours
No explanation needed. Protect them with your life.
6 - Pen and pencil hoard
In the ideal world, every student would be arriving to every lesson with a surplus of pens and pencils, offering to stock up their teacher’s stash of stationery. Alas, the reverse tends to be the case. Ensure that you have a hoard of these ready for the kids who came without.
7 - Folders
Being organised is your greatest asset in teaching and folders will play a key part in this. Use them to organise submitted work, exercise sheets, meeting memos, curricula, anything. It sure beats rifling through that Everest of unsorted paper every time you need to find something.
8 - Coffee mug
Caffeine. And something amusing written on the side just because. One of my favourites was a colleague’s that said: “There are no bad teachers. Only bad students”.
With this armoury behind me, I am always braced to face the day. I hope it has given you some ideas too.