An ALT’s Teacher Survival Kit

The backpack I take to school every day and the little pouch that holds my Survival Kit!
The backpack I take to school every day and the little pouch that holds my Survival Kit!

Every teacher has a bag of things they can’t do without. Emergency supplies for just in case you have to suddenly teach a lesson and “it started 5 minutes ago. Please hurry.” School supplies, because, well, what teacher isn’t addicted to school supplies? And everything needed to make your day run smoother, especially if you teach English in a foreign country and jump from school to school!

This is a list of what’s in my survival kit. Results may vary and I guarantee everyone’s will be a little different. Positions are like rainbows, each one is beautiful in its own way and just a little bit different.

So without further ado! My Teacher Survival Kit:

  • A Pack Of Playing Cards– I got mine at Daiso with Disney Princesses on the back! Good for if you’re bored of one point per right answer and want to introduce a little chance in awarding those points. Also for assigning teams, finding partners, etc etc. Be creative, the uses for these are endless!
  • Colour Markers– Often instead of a prize, my students want me to sign their worksheet or their English file. I like to do this in colour! Also good for checking bingo sheets, drawing, making corrections and so on.
  • Stickers-For when they’ve got my autograph on everything already! I mentioned the value of stickers in a competition in my ‘What to Pack for Japan post already, but I can’t stress enough how nice it is to have something to pass to winners or hard workers or volunteers. Makes the day run smooth! Go forth and reinforce that good behavior!
  • Magnets- And more and more magnets! You can’t have enough of these in vocabulary lessons and sometimes the classroom itself won’t have more than 4. Not helpful for learning #1-30… Also for grammar lessons when you’re putting bits of everything up there for a constant visual that students can refer to. I’ve collected so many magnets I’m afraid to put them anywhere near my phone…
  • Eraser- I play games with these. Kids snatch them up to answer a question with me usually, but they have other practical uses. They can grab them when you say a keyword if you want a listening activity. Also just a part of my school supply obsession!
  • Stopwatch-Because without a time limit where’s the motivation? They’ll get to it sensei, really. There’s still loads of time! Well, not if they only have 1 minute to set up their bingo sheet to start with! Also good for speed reading/spelling/quiz games so they can beat their (and other class’s) records, making groups and the game ‘telephone’.
  • Bingo Cards- At the beginning of the year I drew out blank bingo cards and always keep enough for about two classes in with my flashcards and CD’s. If I need more through the day I photocopy but at the elementary level there’s some kind of half hour break every two periods to make that easy. If you’re stuck with extra time at the end of a lesson, everyone loves bingo! Make it a blackout bingo if you want to mess with their heads a little, mwahahaha!
  • Blank white paper- On kind of the same note, I always bring blank paper to school with me. One of my activities isn’t going to work at this school for some reason? I have a class in3 minutes you say? I can quickly draw out a worksheet or game for whatever I’m teaching that day and make quick copies. Beautiful!
  • Hand sanitizer- Because the kid with a cold and the one with a constantly runny nose still want high fives and you don’t have time to pop into the bathroom to wash and then re-prep your materials for the next lesson. Basically, don’t be squeamish around small children. It won’t go well.
  • Hand towel– It’s hot in the summer and everyone carries around these small towels to wipe off the sweat. Teaching kids is an active sport, keep it under control. Also a spare for taking to the bathroom; more than likely there will be no way to dry your hands after the constant washing you’ll feel you need! Be prepared!

And that’s what I have with me absolutely everywhere I go. It’s even started to extend past my work days actually, never know when you need to write something down or time a friendly runners sprint now do you? In addition I also have the flashcards for the day and all the past lessons with me as well as CD’s with fun songs to sing as warm-ups (the hokey pokey is currently going over very well).
But honestly, the best thing you can bring with you is a backup plan. Nothing goes the way you want it to, just have a mental storage of various activities and games you can fall back on and you’ll be ready for anything! These come with time and experience, but you’ll get a pretty good start at training and by talking to other teachers. Best of luck in your endeavors, you got this!

Do you have a Teacher Survival Kit? Anything on it that’s not on my list? Help people out and let us know in the comments below!

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