When we talk about “back to school essentials,” more often than not it’s with an emphasis on students. In reality though, back to school for teachers begins long before even the first kid in America feels that special sense of dread that can only occur when commercials for notebooks and backpacks start airing midsummer. Being entrusted with moldable young minds is serious business — and it takes a lot of planning and organization for the school year to run smoothly. For this reason (and because, seriously, sometimes teachers just need a break), I’d like to take some time to offer up a few ideas of what back to school necessities might look like for the teachers’ lounge.
A Teacher’s Trading Post
One of the most handy break room ideas I’ve seen enacted in a teachers’ lounge was what some teachers called a Trade-In Station. This station was actually a storage cabinet in the corner of the room that was consistently overflowing with junk like scraps of colored paper, packs of staples and a few books on teaching. It took me a while to understand that this “junk” was constantly varying and oh so far from rubbish to begin with. Teachers were actually using this cabinet to trade in supplies, books and equipment they didn’t need any more for items from other teachers that they could actually use. Designating an area where staff can recycle items among themselves is a good way for teachers to gain an understanding of what they’ll need to stock up on and what they already have. It’s like a streamlined version of trash-picking without the risk of tetanus or being talked about by your neighbors.
A Landline Can Be Your Lifeline
Another teacher savvy addition to the staff lounge is a phone. A plain old, not that smart, phone. Landline phones are awesome for making calls to parents because the calls get directed through the school’s line and there is no need to give out your personal cell number to that one mom who really just can. not. understand. why you’re targeting her son for disciplinary action when all he did was scream during an entire lesson before proceeding rip out another student’s hair. Give that lady your email address and use your own phone to work on that new level of candy crush. Trust me.
Snacks and Coffee… Heart and Soul!
Speaking of candy, let’s get to the real heart and soul of all the teacher back to school supplies—coffee and snacks. Sitting down with a fresh cup of coffee and a snack is about as much relaxation as a hard working teacher could ask for this side of happy hour. Every good teachers’ lounge needs at least one Keurig and probably 24,000,000 K-Cups. But really, when it comes to coffee and snacks diversity is a must. To make the teachers’ lounge snack area more inviting, you can set out bowls of snacks right by the coffee area and line the wall behind the Keurig with wire baskets as a way of organizing the different K-cups. This way, it’s easy to grab a Chai Tea Latte and a Milano Cookie to kick back and celebrate a meaningful breakthrough with a struggling reader. Or, it can be as simple as can be to enjoy an extra bold dark roast and a Wintergreen Lifesaver when you have 25 math tests to grade and the 9am assembly just handed out noise makers to a group of third graders. Either way, cheers to a productive and relaxing school year!