Stock Adequate Supplies
You'd better stock adequate classroom supplies for your kids before the first instructional day. You'll have to re-stock periodically throughout the school year, of course, but give yourself some breathing room initially by gathering plenty of materials beforehand.
However, note that supplies can be notoriously hard to procure at some schools. You might gasp in disbelief at the appearance of your supply room, which may have a steel door that looks more like a bank vault than the entrance to a room full of pencils and paper. But that's how some schools treat their supply rooms — as vaults full of costly treasures.
The trick is to be reasonable and persistent, courteously; reasonable in the quantities you order and persistent in not giving up until you get some significant part of your order filled. After all, you are the professional responsible for educating our future leaders; those supplies belong to you so you can teach and to your kids so they can learn. You're just asking for the supplies you need to do your job.
Here's a checklist of some basic supplies you'll want to retrieve from the supply room or put on order or even purchase yourself if you simply can't get them any other way:
A tape dispenser and two rolls of tape, plus four rolls of duct tape for various emergencies
A stapler and four boxes of staples, plus four staple removers
Four pairs of adult scissors and a dozen glue sticks for creating bulletin-board displays, etc.
Four dozen blue or black pens for writing and four dozen red or green pens for correcting
Four dozen pencils, four plastic rulers, and four metal straight edges
Four boxes of jumbo and four boxes of small paper clips, plus four boxes of paper clamps
A three-hole punch
Twelve notepads and a dozen sticky-note pads
Twelve spiral notebooks for writing ideas for lesson plans, etc.
Twelve black whiteboard markers and four whiteboard erasers
100 manila folders
100 hanging folders
For your students:
Four dozen pencils — all of which you'll sharpen before the kids arrive
A class set (32) of kid scissors
A class set of rulers
Four reams of writing paper, appropriately ruled for your grade level
Four packs of 9″ × 12″ and 18″ × 24″ multicolored construction paper for projects
Four dozen pink or white erasers
Twelve dozen multicolored crayons
Four dozen glue bottles
100 inexpensive three-prong report folders
Twelve dozen boxes of tissue
You can augment these basic supplies with anything else you think you'll need, such as white note cards, rubber bands, rubber cement, your own classroom paper cutter, colored markers, colored pencils, gold stars, plastic paper sleeves, whiteboard cleaner, happy-face stickers, three-ring binders, colored yarn, scalloped bulletin-board edgings — anything appropriate. Just don't bankrupt yourself — always order materials from your school first, and only dig into your own pockets if there's no other choice.
As you're stocking supplies, don't forget to get a good amount of disaster supplies for your classroom. In preparing for disasters, assume that you and your students might not be able to leave your classroom for a while. You'll want to visit the school nurse and ask her which disaster supplies you should stock in case the unthinkable occurs, such as tornados, hurricanes, earthquakes, security lockdowns, etc. Keep enough of these supplies so you can use some of them for the everyday “emergencies” that your kids will experience, such as cuts, scraped knees, etc.
It is vital to remember that many pathogens and dangerous diseases are blood-borne, meaning they can be transmitted from one person to another by means of contact with human blood. Don't allow other people's blood to contact any part of your body, either externally or through bodily orifices, or through any cuts or abrasions.
A necessary emergency item is adhesive bandages. You can always send a student to the nurse in the case of an apparent injury, but in many cases a bandage may be all that's needed. Certainly, let the nurse double check a student after you've issued a band-aid, but often the nurse will return the student with a note saying that your band-aid fix was adequate.
Don't forget basic sundries like gauze, facial tissues, and paper towels. These versatile materials are good for a multitude of cleaning tasks as well as when your kids have colds, allergies, minor cuts and scrapes, abrasions, etc.
If your school hasn't created an emergency kit for every teacher, you'll need to assemble one yourself. Get a clear plastic container with a snap-on lid (and don't get one so large or bulky that your students can't lift or carry it). Ask your school nurse for supplies and suggestions for the emergency kit's contents.
Your emergency kit should contain the following basic supplies:
Twelve dozen adhesive band-aids of assorted sizes, from small to extra large
Larger elastic bandages and clips to hold bandages in place, gauze, scissors, surgical tape
Disposable rubber gloves, gauze, paper towels, and infectious-waste bags
Antiseptic wipes, rubbing alcohol, and disposable protective face masks
Cold packs and antiseptic creams for burns, abrasions, etc.
Feminine sanitary napkins
Smelling salts, to revive unconscious persons
A first-aid manual or first-aid reference card
A rechargeable flashlight or flashlight with fresh batteries
If you and your students truly can't leave the classroom for a significant length of time because of outside obstructions or the nature of students' injuries, make provisions for a private lavatory for yourself and your students. In addition to toilet paper, keep a supply of rope, some inexpensive bed sheets, nails, and a hammer, and use these items to curtain off a corner of your classroom. Inside place a five-gallon plastic bucket, lined with one or two heavy-duty trash bags. When students are finished relieving themselves, tie off these bags securely and place them as far as possible from your students.
No one can prepare for every eventuality, but a little preplanning and a lot of stocking can carry you and your students a long way, during daily instructional time and emergencies.