5 super cheap, super useful items every teacher needs

Utility belts and lassos of truth may not be allowed in classrooms, but there are some everyday items that teachers can call on in their hour of need

Woman in work clothes doubling as superhero

Everybody knows how hard teachers work – some might say that they are almost like superheroes who keep going regardless of how tired, ill or down they may be feeling. 

And every superhero needs kit to help them out…whether it’s Batman with his utility belt, Spider-Man and his special suit or Wonder Woman and her lasso of truth (now that really would be useful…).

Teaching is no different, with the right tools definitely helping to make our teaching lives easier. Of course we can’t kit out our classrooms like the Batcave but here are five super cheap things you can buy to make your day a bit smoother and more enjoyable.

1. A canny visualiser

Much has been written about the positive impact of using visualisers in the classroom to model excellent work and discuss misconceptions. However, if your department is short of money and you had to buy a visualiser yourself, even the cheapest models can be quite pricey. Never fear though, as a simple smartphone can be turned into a visualiser by just downloading an app that usually only costs a few pounds.

2. Multicolour marking pen

If you’re anything like me and your desk is a sea of books to mark, to-do lists and lesson resources, laying your hands on the correct coloured pen can be like finding the Holy Grail. So why not spend a few quid on a multicoloured pen with 10 different pen colours inside? With green for teacher comments and purple for pupil progress, for example, it will suit even the most multicoloured of marking policies.

3. Protecting your equipment

Nothing is more frustrating than constantly having to refill your stationery supplies as students have absentmindedly pocketed your pencils. Why not buy some colourful washi tape to wrap around your pens, pencils and highlighters. It can be a colourful reminder for them to hand them back at the end of the lesson.

4. Keeping hydrated and cool

When your classroom is on the third floor and the nearest drinkable water source is on the ground floor, keeping hydrated can be a bit of a battle. In a long eight-hour teaching day, even a one litre bottle of water is not enough to quench a talkative teacher’s thirst. 

Snatching enough time to go down for a refill in a busy day can seem impossible, so many teachers might just go without – but this is really not good for your health. For between £10 and £20 why not invest in a 2.5l desk watercooler to ensure you’re hydrated all day long? 

5. Neat desks create order

Children are fidgety beings and by the end of the day, your tables can look more like a dog’s leg than a neat formation. So instead of constantly walking around straightening them, you could spend £1 buying some cable ties from your local pound shop.

These can be tied around groups of tables to keep them looking neat. One less tidying up job for you to think about at the end of a hectic day.

Haili Hughes is an English teacher at Saddleworth School in Oldham, Greater Manchester. She tweets @HughesHaili

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