10 emergency classroom items for teachers (of either gender, really…)

Ok, so I was trying to avoid possible sexism in the title of this post, but I didn’t want to call it “10 emergency classroom items for teachers” and imply that I knew what female teachers needed. At the same time, I didn’t want to call it “10 emergency classroom items for male teachers” and appear to alienate three quarters of America’s educators.

Thus, I present to you, “10 emergency items for teachers (of either gender, really, but with a slight bias toward men…possibly).”


1. A personal grooming kit with toiletries

You won’t need a personal grooming kit every day, necessarily, but on the days you need it, you’ll really need it. Having a compact grooming kit with nail clippers, a file, facial hair scissors, and a small mirror can really save you from unnecessary embarrassment on those days when an errant nose hair makes an appearance. Plus, a small file can double as a flat head screwdriver or a mini pry bar in a pinch.

Deodorant, shaving cream and a toothbrush/paste are handy for Open Houses and conference days when you can’t head home to shower and shave after eight hours of trudging through the trenches.

2. Extra clothes

Like the toothpaste and deodorant, an extra set of clothes is great to have on hand for after school activities that require some semblance of professionalism. In addition, having an emergency outfit at school can save the day in the (inevitable) event that you end up with coffee, glue, lunch, blood, or vomit on your clothes.

3. Snacks

Sure, for you, but also for your kids. Often, you’ll have a student or two who–for whatever reason–isn’t getting as much food as he needs during the school day. Having some crackers or granola bars available for these kids can help hold them over and keep them focused. This is especially helpful if you have students who are diabetic.

4. ‘Thank you’ cards

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve suddenly needed to give out a ‘thank you’ card on a random Thursday. I’m fortunate enough that I have kids whose parents will regularly send in tissues and hand sanitizer to help keep all the classroom germs at bay, and having some thank you cards on hand is really convenient. Beyond that, everyone appreciates receiving a little positive note, whether it’s for covering a class unexpectedly or offering to switch detention duty so you can go to a Def Leppard concert.

5. Duct tape

Yes, duct tape is everywhere…because it’s amazing. I’ve used duct tape for everything from repairing binders, to keeping electrical cords from causing tripping hazards, and even taping over jagged metal edges on broken chairs to prevent injuries. Masking tape is always the go-to for hanging stuff on walls because it doesn’t leave adhesive behind, but when you need a job to stick permanently, go for duct tape instead.

6. Gum or mints

Because you don’t always have time to brush your teeth, and nobody wants to smell the leftover garlic knots you brought for lunch today.

7. A basic first aid kit and pain medication

Band-aids are absolutely necessary because kids are clumsy. Band-aids are also absolutely necessary because you’re clumsy. Even though your school probably has a nurse, a basic first aid kit with bandages, alcohol pads, antibiotic ointment, and gauze will prevent a lot of unnecessary trips to the clinic, and it’ll make the necessary trips less terrifying if you have the basics covered in your room.

The pain meds are for you, not your kids (obviously). You’ll need them.

8. Checkbook

It sounds weird–and a bit unsafe–to keep a checkbook at school, but if you have a place in your room or car to lock it up, having a checkbook nearby means you’ll always be ready to pay PTSA dues, register for Spring Fling, or make a donation to the March of Dimes to help save babies (and get a jeans day).

9. Comfy shoes

I don’t care who you are, no one chooses dress shoes over slippers for comfort. If you’re accustomed to wearing loafers or heels every day, chances are you’ll eventually develop blisters, corns, or other foot maladies that’ll make you wish you just had some house slippers to relax in for a day. So why don’t you? Get an old pair of sneaks to keep in your room for those days when your feet need a break. No one will judge you for it, and you can always slip your formal shoes back on if an administrator wanders in.

10. Sports equipment

I know, I know. We should be learning every minute of every day. There are no Language Arts standards for throwing footballs. And yet, at some point during the year, you’ll probably find yourself outside with thirty antsy children just itching to throw things at one another. Picking up a couple of cheap Frisbees, footballs, or kickballs at Wal-Mart will ensure that you’re always ready if you and the kids are ever in need of a “mental health day”–usually after testing. And a word of warning if you teach middle school: call them “athletic spheres.” Standing on the athletic field yelling, “Has anyone seen my balls?!” is a sure way to cause a spectacle.

What else do you keep “just in case”? Tide pens? I feel like Tide pens should have made the list. Comment and tell me if I should add Tide pens.

Tide pens.

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