Congratulations on securing your first job! I am sure you are now beginning to get really excited about finally walking into your very first classroom! I remember the feeling so well, and walking into my own classroom was one of my happiest times and highlights of my NQT year. It can be daunting too as you begin to think about some items you may need for starting off, especially if you haven’t seen your classroom yet.
What I will say is, find out what resources in your classroom or school are available to you first, and then make a list of the essential things you may need. I always find talking to colleagues if there is someone teaching in the same year group as you, or to other teachers in that end of the school helpful, to ask them what they feel is essential for you to have for that age group and maybe what resources are available that you can share between classes. It may also be worth asking your principal if there is money allocated to teachers for resources or if there is a way of putting in an order for larger things that can be left in the school or classroom for other teachers in the years to come.
This list is quite general as you may need to get essential items for your unique teaching style, class or year group or school.
1. A Teacher Planner
No matter what else comes next, a planner is essential for your daily lesson notes, reminders and monthly overview. I think the brand of planner you go for is individual to you, and I have often found the cheapest planners the best as I personally only seem to use the daily planning section. Shop around and have a look through some of the planners that are out there and make sure to pick yourself up one before your first day!
You will need big folders, one as your main folder to store important documents, details about your class and perhaps your lesson plans, and also another folder as your assessment folder.
If you are beginning Droichead you may be asked to keep another folder with your Cuntas Miosiúil in it. This is your record of what you taught that month. You may be asked to keep your weekly, monthly or long term plans in separate folders too, completely depending on your PST (Professional Support Team) or school. I also had a separate folder for just Droichead documents. I kept my commencement email, all of my cluster meeting notes, observation notes, form D and other useful documents for Droichead in here.
Once you have two main folders for your first day to store notes in, you can always see what you will need and sort notes out into other folders at a later time.
I would definitely suggest getting mini-whiteboards (along with markers and sponges) for the pupils and a medium-sized portable whiteboard for you. In my classroom we use mini-whiteboards everyday for everything, including for brainstorming, maths work, and assessment. A medium sized whiteboard is good for the teacher to have for stations or for working one to one with a small group or pupil.
Mini-whiteboards can be expensive, so if your school isn’t covering the cost, I got these ones from the PDST for €12 for the past 2 years. They aren’t very durable but they’re cost effective and last the year. In the photo it shows graph squares, but mine only had these on one side with the other side left blank.
Psst… mini-whiteboards are so handy for formative assessment or AfL. Learn more HERE.
4. Laminating sheets and an A3 laminator
This one is self explanatory! Some schools may have laminators, but I always found having my own was handier and I had it to hand whenever I needed it. I recommend getting an A3 laminator because you can fit both A4 and A3 pages into it which is handier in the long run! I have a ‘Fellowes’ laminator and find it excellent.
You will need lots and lots of stationary and I have found I have just gathered as much as possible over the years! Things to start picking up may be Sharpie markers, whiteboard markers, a date stamp, a sellotape dispenser, a stapler, a hole puncher and small/ medium sized stationary organisers.
In my organisers I have labelled what is in each drawer which may give you more ideas of some smaller bits you may like to pick up to have.
6. Illuminous flashcards
This one is a little more uncommon to maybe be recommended to buy, but I love the illuminous flashcards. I get mine from Mr Price. I think they are so handy for absolutely everything, be it Gaeilge verbs, sight words, play spaces, phrases, banners, word wall bricks, you name it! In my classroom, I have a core subject banner colour coding system, primarily for EAL learners using the luminous flashcards which correspond to my word wall, book or copy baskets, and other areas in the classroom.
7. A durable and strong bag for transporting books and resources to and from school.
This can be anything from a bag for life to a school bag! I would recommend having a bag in your car or in school for transporting resources to and from home in the event you have to take things home to do.
8. Sticky Notes
I do not know where I would be without sticky notes in the classroom! I use them every single day, and with every age group. They are excellent for KWL charts, brainstorming writing ideas, assessment, predictions, and collaborative discussions. You can use sticky notes for everything and I think the kids love writing on them too! I leave a packet in each group’s basket on their table.
Psst… mini-whiteboards are so handy for formative assessment or AfL. Learn more HERE.
9. Flipchart Paper
I use flip charts all the time, particularly in literacy. They are excellent for displaying different mini-lessons that you do together across the month for the children to be able to refer to in their own writing. I find making flip charts in maths useful too, as the pupils can refer back to the problem when they are working independently.
If you don’t have a stand, I used sticky hooks this year and stuck them to the board to hang the flip chart paper on. It worked excellently and was almost better than taking up floor space with the stand!
10. Coloured Card of All Sizes
This one goes without saying, but I think it’s worth mentioning because there have been so many times I, or a colleague, didn’t have a certain colour of card that we needed. Coloured card comes in useful for everything! It is handy to have white and black card too as you never know when you will need them.
I hope this list has given you a little help as to what you may need to pick up before you start back to school! It is definitely not an extensive list, and as I mentioned before, depending on what class level you are working with, there will be more specific essentials for that age too. You may also need to purchase things that you will need that maybe you will discover your school doesn’t have. Whether you go in with everything or nothing on your first day, the most important resource in that classroom will be you. Don’t worry about supplies or stationary too much, you will be able to pick things up over time. There will be things that you come across and that you may like to invest in like visualisers, or whiteboard clickers. These are all things you can take time to think about and decide if they’re for you.
Lastly, I wish you the best of luck with your new classroom and on your NQT journey.
As always, I am only a message away if you need any advice or help when starting with your new class.
Enjoy the build up and the excitement. It is the most amazing time!
This event aspires to inspire, motivate and share valuable insights to our newest teachers.
We explore topics such as Essentials for an NQT Classroom; Planning & Preparing for the first day, week and month; Classroom Management; Supporting Students with Additional Education Needs; Effective Lesson Planning in 4 Easy Steps; Teacher Wellbeing and Jobs.
We hear from experts in education and teachers who have walked the road before you and are willing to share their experience.
NQT Picnic is a specially designed online event for NQT’s in July 2022.
It is a daunting experience starting your very first teaching position – whether it is subbing or your own post! College seems like a long time ago now and you may be starting to feel a tad nervous.
Following the huge success of NQT Fest & Picnic in 2021, we are delighted to share this special event for NQT’s in July 2022 with you!
Free Resource for Teachers – End of School Year Activities!
What an exciting time of the year! Your main lessons and topics are complete and the pupils are getting excited for their summer holidays. It can be a challenging time to keep pupils engaged in classroom lessons due to exciting events on the horizon like school tours or sports days, so I like to keep things light and fun and still try to ensure the learning is taking place.
Ciara McGuane is the Summer Course Director for Rahoo.ie.
Her career highlights include being filmed by BBC London teaching in the classroom and guest-lecturing at the Institute of Education in London. She has worked as a teacher, school leader, teacher trainer and initial teacher training tutor prior to setting up Rahoo.
This is always a hot topic for teachers and so important to get it right.
Here are some mistakes that teachers have shared with us when they did our EPV Summer Course on Classroom Management with Niamh Byrne, Irish Primary Teacher.
We have dipped in and out of the CPD course to learn what to do instead!
Why do we remember the words of lyrics we haven’t heard in years? Why do some experiences stick in our heads more than others? Something made them memorable!
Make your lessons stick by trying to make some aspect of it different. This could be as simple as playing music (we have played classical music when students were working independently in the past) or hooking them into the lesson with mystery tasks or controversial questions that spark debate.
When planning ask yourself: What can I do to make this lesson memorable?