Top Ten Must Haves For Your Classroom

Top 10_edited-1By Dianne Jackson — As great as teacher education is, there are some things that you will not be prepared for until you get in the field.

Every educator knows that they need pencils, pens and papers, but what about the things that come in handy that you learn along the way?

Well, here are some must haves that I have learned to keep in my classroom.

1. Marble jar and incentive goals
This is a must in a k-8 classroom. The students can earn marbles based on things that you guys come up with (e.g. 100% attendance, 100% homework, hallway compliment) Think of as many as you can to help you be successful. Once the jar is filled then… PARTY TIME!

2. What to do when done poster
 This poster helps student never lose a moment (because there are no moments to waste). You may have things like: read a book, study, write notes, etc.

3. Recyclable Paper Bin
There are so many copies that we don’t use and why waste that paper. This is a bin for students who forget their supplies or want some paper to sketch.

Inspiration- With the room being colorful, it should as be inspirational. Put some quotes up that relate directly to the subject or famous people that the students can relate to.

5. Famous people in subject (current and old)
Simple. These posters should not only be up but be referenced. Strategically place up people that they will learn about all year. IT IS IMPORTANT TO BE DIVERSE WITH THE PEOPLE YOU CHOOSE!

6.Terrific Student Work
Motivate students to aspire to do their best on their work because the best get placed for all to see. This also provides great models of what is exceptional and acceptable.

7.Place where homework is posted
Students need routines. Place homework assignments, standards and objectives for that matter at the same place each time. ( Magnetic dividers can be used to help separate and organize things on board)

8. Speakers
If your classroom does not come with speakers, get some. Start your day with some music to calm the atmosphere, change it up and listen to an audio book etc.

9. Reading Corner
No matter what subject you teach- reading is fundamental. Have a place where there are free books to borrow and a beautiful place to read quietly.

10. Lesson Plan Holder
Lesson plans should be posted for all to access. This is for the parents who stop by and even the principal that wants to chime in.

This list is not comprehensive but based on what I have gathered in my almost four years (anniversary next month) of teaching. I would have loved these tips sooner but still benefited from them later.

*Continue to teach with the intention that no matter what is going on in the world, everyone that you reach has all the potential to be the next great big someone- no matter what you see right now!

5 Responses to “Top Ten Must Haves For Your Classroom”

  1. 1 Ashley @ Coffee & Macarons January 8, 2014 at 11:27 am

    LOVE your list! I’ve been teaching for four years as well. This year, I received a mini Keurig for a Christmas present and that is sitting in my room as well (gotta love the coffee). In addition, I would recommend a filing system for handing papers back – I have a large pink box with a file folder for each section. Even though I teach 9th grade, my students will gladly pass back papers for me if there are any in their period’s folder.


  2. 3 Nate Schultz January 8, 2014 at 1:11 pm

    This is a great list Dianne. As a 6th grade teacher in the elementary setting I consistently need and use many of these things, especially posting homework assignments and keeping routines. I do, however, disagree with #1 – Marble Jar and Incentive Goals. In my experience, I’ve found intrinsic motivation and more character education to be a stronger tool, rather than incentives. Teaching students that they should be quiet in the halls out of respect for others, rather than to earn a token or reward, can go further than filling a jar. That said, every class and every student learns differently. Extrinsic motivation can be useful and beneficial, but I believe should not be in every classroom.


    • 4 Dianne Jackson January 13, 2014 at 11:46 am


      I agree with you to an extent. However I have found that intrinsic motivation is something that many urban youth have to learn. It is not as natural as some may suspect it to be. Therefore I have not created the marble jar as an incentive for every small thing but a few big things. Also remember to feel the marble jar takes quite a while and every small thing they do will not be seen. Eventually the motivation becomes intrinsic because the students develop a sense of pride about doing well. I would argue that grades are extrinsic motivators and that is a system that is used and revered… so are awards in general.


      • 5 2740schultn January 14, 2014 at 12:49 pm

        You’re right. Using an extrinsic motivator can be a great way to teach and tap into the intrinsic motivation that I believe all kids have. If a teacher frames it the correct way and holds the very important discussion to instill that sense of pride, wonderful emotional and behavior development can occur. Grades and awards are extrinsic motivators, and yes are obviously widely used. I’d argue though that many teachers do not necessary revere these. Many schools use grades, but view them as a communication tool, not necessarily as a motivator. Same with awards. I personally like the idea of using the natural curiosity in all students as the means by which to motivate, rather than earning an ‘A’. So yes, grades are used and many value them, but I guess I then wonder, should they be?


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