What teachers should buy in the (online) January sales

From a cardboard cut-out of yourself for Zoom calls to a fancy scarf, Kirsty Walker lists the must-haves for teachers
7th January 2021, 5:09pm
Kirsty Walker


What teachers should buy in the (online) January sales

What Should Every Teacher Should Buy Themselves In The Online January Sales

Although very few shops are currently open, no one can resist a good sale, so here are some must-have items for every teacher that you can now pick up at a fraction of the price - plus tariffs, plus postage, plus danger money if they are shipped via boat through the Royal Navy blockades.

Five things teachers need to buy this January

A VR headset

It's nice to have a little bit of reflection and to be able to go to your calm place in the midst of the academic year, thinking about the holidays you're going to take and the places you're going to go to. Unfortunately, the holidays I'm going to take are cancelled, and the only places I'm going to go to are the corner shop and work. So now might be the time to invest in a VR headset and take a holiday in the virtual realm. Swim with tropical fish, fly like a bird, fight dinosaurs, or whatever it takes to divest yourself of reality. Also, I have been interrupted by students with literally half a sandwich in my mouth, but I can guarantee no one will bother you if you're wearing a plastic helmet and shouting "Die, velociraptor!"

Looking ahead: Nine things education leaders are hoping for in 2021

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The future of FE: What will 2021 bring?


An expensive scarf

Multiple scarves have always been a real waste of money. You really only need one; you can't grow out of it, and you only need it for half the year. So dropping a lot of cash on a scarf always felt indulgent - until this year. Now it is personal protective equipment. Now, really, you need to have more than one, because they can be used as a face covering and therefore germified or dropped. It's the perfect time to spend ridiculous money on what is essentially one half-leg of a pair of trousers. If anyone challenges your extravagance, just reply, "I'm a teacher, it's workwear," then swish it stylishly and strut off.

A PowerPoint clicker

I have always considered this an essential piece of kit. If you're shackled to the PC at the front of the room, you can't patrol the low level disruptors or read the students' Snapchats over their shoulders. After almost a year of hearing people say "Next slide, please", owning a PowerPoint clicker makes you feel like you're launching a new iPhone, zapping the slides from the back of the room with a flourish to rapturous applause. Why not get one with a laser pointer and sound effects? And never forget the endless fun of ruining someone else's CPD session by sneakily pairing your clicker with their PowerPoint and moving their slides on while they look bemused.

Ridiculous pens

I seem to have spent 60 per cent of my professional life giving out pens to students, who are constantly surprised that they might need to write something down. Buying and distributing standard biros is a mug's game - what you need are the most ostentatious, ridiculous pens possible. Think feathers, oversized toppers, glitter and sparkles. Either the students will gladly return them because they look like the dressing room floor on Strictly Come Dancing or they will steal them but will be easily caught as you can spot them from a hundred metres away. Either way, it's a one-off investment rather than a monthly direct debit to WH Smith.

A lifesize cut-out of yourself

Also for a one-off payment, you can buy yourself relative freedom from online CPD or massive group Zoom calls. Get someone to take a picture of you with your work lanyard on, preferably with a contemplative look on your face, and have a cardboard cut-out made that can stand in for you in meetings. When there are 40 people on the Zoom call, no one is going to be checking each individual screen to see if anyone is actually made of paper. This frees up time to do other, more important work, like staring at the wall, or obsessively unravelling paperclips.

Kirsty Walker teaches at a college in the North West of England


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