This post contains affiliated links. By clicking and purchasing from the provided links, the practical professors earn a small commission at no additional cost to the buyer.
Teaching can lead to long days with little time in between classes for self-care. So, building a car kit or devoting an office drawer to essentials can make all the difference in how you feel (and look) by the end of the day! As faculty, we often dash from here to there; classes, meetings, office hours, working lunches not to mention doctors appointments, kids practices, happy hour with friends, or rushing home to our loved ones. Our “on the go” lifestyle leaves little time to freshen up or sit down to eat a meal, which is why preparing and having essentials at your fingertips is…well….essential!
Creating kits that can easily be stored in your office or car and carried in a bag that you use to take supplies to classes can assist with preparation, professionally and personally. Teaching kits that include supplies needed to successfully teach your class can be packed and stored in a teaching bag. A personal kit can also help to ensure classes run smoothly providing comfort; when you feel and look your best teaching is a bit easier. Creating an “Essentials” kit is relatively cheap and easy. In fact, most of the items below can easily be picked up from the Dollar Store, the travel size section at Target, or a local drug store. Several items in the personal kit cost a dollar or less. The lists below will serve as a guide as you build your kit.
Teaching “Essentials Kit” Items:
- Expo markers
Personal “Essentials Kit” Items:
- Toothbrush, Toothpaste, Floss
- Hand Sanitizer
- Wet Wipes/Baby Wipes
- First Aid Kit
- Medicine (ibuprofen, anti-allergy)
- Hair brush/Hair Tie/Hair Spray
- Contact Lens Kit
- Nail clippers/file
- Phone Charger
- Protein Bars (e.g. Larabars, Cliff bars)
- Trail mix
- Almonds or other nuts
- Cup of Soup or Microwavable Soup
- Bottled water or a reusable water bottle
It was not until after an emergency that we realized some of these items needed to be carried in our kits. For example, one day I had back-to-back classes and was having trouble with my one of my contacts. I was miserable! By the time I had a chance to go to the store and buy the items I needed, my eye was bright red, watering, and I had a terrible headache. Now, I keep a contact kit in my office that holds a case, bottles for contact solution, and a small mirror. A small bottle of ibuprofen and Tylenol is also in my desk drawer for unexpected headaches.
It is also important to consider fueling your body with nutritious food and staying hydrated throughout the day. Carry a reusable water bottle that can be filled at water fountains between classes. Carry non-perishable snacks in your bag or store them in your desk drawer or car. There are days when we have taught six hours in a row, gone to a meeting, and met with students to finish the day realizing we have not eaten since breakfast. Sometimes, sitting down for a meal during a hectic day is impossible. But that does not mean you cannot or should not eat. Pack smalls meals or nutritious snacks that you can carry in your bag. Carry a piece of fresh fruit or a bag of raw vegetables that you can eat while walking between classes. If you have access to a refrigerator or you carry an insulated lunch box, you can pack a wrap, string cheese, or yogurt. These are all easy to eat while on the run.
If you are keeping the essentials in your car (back seat or trunk), we highly recommend a small plastic tub, egg crate, box, or bag designated for storage of the items. This will help with organization and access. Keeping the items together in one place also allows easy removal if you need space in your car on the weekends.Some of the items above you may use and need to replenish every week, while others you may not need all semester or year. We recommend being conscious of what you use and being sure to replenish as needed. Some of the items may be damaged by temperatures in the car; therefore, consider what can be stored there and what will be damaged. In addition, check items that are not used regularly from time to time to ensure they are still in good condition.
As we prepare for back to school, we will continue to post pictures of different kits that we create and use on social media. Follow us on Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, and Twitter for more ideas. Share ideas for essential items. What is an essential item in your kit? Post your comments below.