You’re Gonna Need a Bigger Bag


I’m hoping by this time, you’ve all stocked your school bags with the essential things you need as a substitute teacher. So, with all these Boxing Day deals still going on, I thought I’d give you some suggestions for some non-essential (but still pretty useful) things you could carry with you to the schools and classrooms you get called to. Basically, you’re gonna need a bigger bag.

-you-re-going-to-need-a-bigger-boat-jaws-photo-u1Trust Roy Scheider

  • A whistle: gym classes are loud, gyms are big, equipment is noisy. If you’re left to cover a gym class, you’re rarely left with the most useful tool of all: a whistle. And really, would you want to be? Who wants to share a whistle? (Gross). If you want to be heard, bring a whistle.
  • A stop-watch: also for a gym class. If you need to time a game or a lap, it’s infinitely easier to do so with a stopwatch than it is to do with the wall clock. It’s also good to have so you’re not dependent on your cell phone in a school that may have a very strict cell phone policy.
    It’s also a good thing to have with you to time how much time is wasted by nasty classes. Use your professional discretion.
  • iPad connector: Maybe you want to look something up as a class. Or maybe you’re put in the position of needing to fill more time. If you don’t have a computer login, this is going to be tricky. But if you have a piece of tech and have a connector, you can tackle those possible problems. If you’re in a classroom with  a projector, just pop on to Google or Netflix (because who doesn’t have Netflix these days?) and look up info or put on an appropriate movie. And be sure to tell the teacher you did so. (This is what I have, and I use it all the time. I didn’t spend that much. Thank goodness.)
  • Static spray: schools are so dry and I hate it when my  hair looks like a science experiment and my blouse or skirt sticks to me all day because of static. A little spritz of static spray and problem solved. Or, I’m an old lady and no one else is bothered by this and it’s just me.
  • Hand lotion: in the same vein of dry schools, if your classroom has chalkboards (yes, some still do) and you’re writing on those all day, your hands can get very dry. Or, again, I’m just an old lady.
  • Protein bar: this goes back to having something of substance in your bag in case you’re asked to stay the full day at school and you don’t have a lunch with you. However, do exercise caution. A lot of protein bars get their protein content from nuts. A lot of schools are nut-free to avoid allergy issues. Make sure you know the rules of the school/classroom so you’re not putting anyone at risk.
  • Rubber boots: very rarely are you told your supervision schedule when you get a substitute call. I can’t tell you how many times I was required to go outside and was not dressed properly. I started leaving rubber boots in my car, just in case. So instead of being an old lady, I’m a small child: inside shoes and outside shoes.
  • Phone/tablet chargers: I keep these in my car too. I don’t know; I like having a charged phone and iPad, especially when you’re expected to accept sub calls when at school.
  • Box of crackers: (I think I was feeling snacky when I made this list.) If I get hungry during the day, especially if I missed lunch for whatever reason, I want to nibble, but I don’t want to root through another person’s desk or cupboard.
  • Bottle of water: this will be the last time I harp on about dry schools, I promise! It goes with crackers, it’s good to be hydrated, it helps to avoid a dry throat from talking/dry schools, it’s just plain good for you. Lots of reasons to carry water with you!

Any non-essential items you carry with you? Let me know in the comments!

11 thoughts on “You’re Gonna Need a Bigger Bag

  1. I like to bring a book with me when I’m going to volunteer at schools, or volunteer as a substitute catechist. It’s helpful for a few reasons: I will read while on the subway or bus on the way to the school as I’m typically going into more crime-prone neighborhoods and keep my phone tucked away. It is also a good way to pass the time while waiting for my assignment; it’s better for the children to see me reading a book than on my phone. It is also helpful because I’ve taken it out during volunteering to read it to the children or have the children read it to me, or discuss what we’re reading (they make the connection that reading is for fun and beyond just for school). It is helpful to bring a book that is more level-appropriate for the children if you use it in a pinch to do a group reading or having the child(ren) read to you.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. You’re so right! Books are so important that I have them on my essentials list. I do so much reading when I’m substituting, especially when I’m in maths or sciences classes of university-bound kids and they work so independently. I’ve joked I should start a Substitute Teachers Book Club ☺️
      Thanks for your reply!


  2. My dad was well liked as a teacher, partly because he kept a box of Wheat Thins at all times in his cupboard for kids who were feeling snacky (and no, he didn’t teach elementary, he taught high school haha!)

    Liked by 1 person

    1. When I have my own classroom, I will always have a drawer of healthy snacks: some for me and some for them. If I can get their best attention and develop a positive relationship and all it takes is a granola bar, then I can afford that expense 😊


  3. I have a laptop bag filled with things. I bring stickers because I have found a lot of stufents love being silently praised for working and they loveee stickers. I also bring a book, as well as whiteboard, whiteboard markers (I am surprised sometimes when the homeroom teacher has hidden the markers and probably for good reason–but come on–you didn’t even leave me ONE marker??), clipboard, notepads, various pencils and pens, my planner, peanuts or dried fruit mixes, deck of cards, the small card game called ‘Would you rather…’ for those times when you have 5 minutes left of the lesson/day, a squishy ball.. and I think that is it… 😉

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Such good items! I actually always have a whiteboard marker in my pencil case (which I listed in I Got It In The Bag: For a while I even toyed with bringing my own chalk, because of the same reason; teachers (probably with good reason) hide stuff hahaha
      Personally, I’m still on the fence (after all these years) about bringing games and things like that into the classroom. On one hand, sometimes there is time to be filled, or lessons don’t go as planned, or you want to reward a good class/redirect a rough class. On the other hand,the regular classroom teacher’s plans should last the whole period, and they should be aware and outline for you how to handle a rough class. Give me another eight years, and maybe I will have decided by then hahaha!
      Thanks so much for your comment!


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