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Teacher Survival Kit: What Teachers ACTUALLY Need

Teacher Survival Kit: What Teachers ACTUALLY Need


A new teacher should be well-equipped to take on anything the day throws at them. You never know when someone will get sick, or you’ll need a quick snack, or a headache will show up out of nowhere. Skip the cute, Pinterest-worthy stuff, and pack your teacher survival kit with some real necessities.

Teacher Survival Kit

Apparently “teacher survival kit” is a popular search term on Google. I’m assuming the person looking this up is a new teacher or someone who knows and cares about a new teacher.

I don’t know exactly what they are looking for, though. Do they want a cute gift basket with pencils, Band-Aids, and tissues? Or a joke gift like a fake bottle of Xanax full of jelly beans? Or perhaps they’re looking for real ideas to keep them safe from violence in the classroom, like a bulletproof vest or something to put in the doorway so an intruder cannot enter?

There are many ways to interpret this request for a teacher survival kit, and I would like to address all of them for you.

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Actual Items You Need in Your Teacher Survival Kit

I’m what you’d consider a veteran teacher. I’ve been teaching for a hot minute, and as much as parents mean well when they bring you cute little knick-knacks and punny gifts during the year, you’ll need to have a bunch of legit stuff in a big bag ready to get you through the day at school.

Medication and First Aid

Every teacher should be ready to handle any personal health problem at any time. The stress of the job will absolutely give you indigestion and stomach pains so you must have Tums, Pepto, and Gas-X available at all times. You should have a large amount of vitamin C and any other immune boosters. Excedrin, Advil, and Tylenol are a must.

Obviously, you want to have a basic first aid kit as well. For any drug you take on a regular basis (most teachers I know are on some kind of antidepressant or antianxiety med) you should have a few extra because you will inevitably forget to take them one morning and you cannot try to function without them. If you wear contacts, have an extra pair and saline solution.

Oh yeah, and under eye concealer to try to cover up how tired you are or the crying fest you had at lunch. Maybe Visine too. 

Your Own Pens and Pencils

Have a stash of pens and pencils that you will never ever lend out to children. There will always be a kid without a pencil. These are yours. Same with one dedicated set of markers and highlighters. 

Dependable Shoes

Forget the fashionable heels. I understand if you are young you are trying to look more mature, but a pair of flat Aerosoles are actually much more mature than a cute pair of heels. That’s because veteran teachers ain’t tryna look cute, fashionable, mature, etc. They’re trying to make it through the day without adding foot and ankle pain to the list of small daily battles.


You will also need your own stash of hand sanitizer, Lysol, lotion, bleach, and good soap (not that nonsense in the teacher’s bathroom). Notice how I am emphasizing that these supplies are only for your use? There’s a reason! There is something about lotion and hand sanitizer that really gets kids of all ages revved up. When a small bottle of lotion comes out, the entire class seems to be having a severe case of eczema or something. It becomes distracting and often out of hand. So unless you can supply every class with a daily lotion break, hide that stuff under lock and key along with everything else! 

Of course, you will also need tons of pads and tampons if you’re a female teacher. Don’t rely on any kind of app or normal cycle to determine if you need those things with you because the stress of teaching is going to totally mess up your cycle.

While you’re at it, you might consider an extra pair of underwear and pants, just in case. Actually, an entire change of clothes is a good idea. It’s not that I anticipate you crapping your pants (although you might with all the cold brew you’ll be chugging), it’s more about grossness that might splash onto you from others. I know of teachers who were not permitted to go home to change after getting vomited and pooped on, amongst other messed-up scenarios. Have an extra deodorant too, because you’re going to work up a stink. 

Air Fresheners

You’ll probably want a few air fresheners because in the warmer months, especially after gym class, kids stink. If you teach pre-pubescent males, you will need an arsenal of them! You probably shouldn’t get plug-ins unless you can strategically hide them because they will tell you they’re a fire hazard and confiscate them.

Food and Snacks

You should have extra snacks, an extra non-perishable lunch, and candy that’s only for you. If you want to provide that stuff for kids too, that’s very kind of you, but don’t ever show them where you keep it because it will magically disappear.

Collage of teacher survival kit for home, including alcohol and small figurines/

Grab a stash of mints too so you’re not the stank breath teacher from that insane coffee habit you’re about to develop. I highly recommend using the Dunkin’ Donuts app before you leave the house to pick up coffee on the way so you don’t have to wait in line (or the Starbucks app if you still live at home and can afford it).

Teacher Survival Kit at Home

Okay, we’ve talked about everything you need in your teacher survival kit at school, but you’ll also need a teacher survival kit once you come home from that long and exhausting day at work.

Collage showing items a teacher needs to make it through the year, including a work bestie, therapy, and a second job.

Here are my recommendations.

  • Personal vices. You will need alcohol. A lot of alcohol. And weed. And probably a bunch of little ceramic knick-knacks that you pick up from a yard sale so you can smash them when you get home
  • Another source of income. You will probably need a second or third job or at least a decent summer job. You should also consider a backup plan
  • Therapy. Just trust me on this one.
  • Union membership. (highly recommended!)
  • An unnatural amount of patience. Those kids, man, work on that patience or they’ll crush you.
  • A dark sense of humor. Obviously.
  • One close friend you can confide in and vent to. See more below.

Things you might consider having in your arsenal: Sage to clear negative energy, a will to live, a sugar mama/daddy, a bite guard, and a taser.

Teacher Survival Kit for Emergencies

On a serious note, for a teacher to fully prepare for any kind of emergency that may arise, you need a handful of items stored in your classroom.

Necessary first aid and emergency items for a teacher survival kit.

According to recommendations from leading disaster response organizations, each classroom should have the following:

  • A bucket to use as an emergency toilet
  • Rubber gloves, goggles, and a mask
  • Fully stocked first aid kit (adhesive bandages, rolled gauze and pads, antibiotic cream, burn gel antiseptic towelettes, tweezers, triangle bandage, etc.)
  • Pry bar
  • LED flashlight with extra batteries
  • Emergency drinking water
  • Emergency blankets
  • Large tarp
  • Whistle
  • Tourniquets
  • QuickClot hemostatic dressing
  • Vented chest seals for entry and exit wounds
  • Scissors to cut through jeans or shirts
  • Bulletproof plates and vests
  • A bat
  • A door “barracuda,” which is a defensive system that locks down swinging doors within seconds (if this is too costly, you can watch a video here on how to use a regular classroom chair to make it impossible to open your classroom door).

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Anything Else to Add to This Kit?

Any other must-haves in your teacher survival kit? What is the one (or two or five) thing that you cannot live without during the school day? Let us know in the comments section below! You can also join in on all the teacher misery discussions on social media. Find me on Facebook and Instagram today!

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Jane Morris

Jane Morris is the pen name of an ex-teacher who would really like to tell you more about herself but is worried awful administrators will come after her for spilling their dirty little secrets. Jane has taught English for over 15 years in a major American city. She received her B.A. in English and Secondary Education from a well-known university and her M.A. in Writing and Literature from an even fancier (and more expensive) university. As a professional queen of commiseration turned published author, Jane’s foremost passion in life is to make people laugh through the tears.

She has written several highly acclaimed books unpacking the reality of teaching and life inside the school system. You can view her full library of works here.

The Teacher Treasury

Monday 5th of December 2022

I agree with having a confidant to share stories with. Being an educator is not an easy task, and it would really be a great help for everyone's well-being to have someone that listens.