What's in my School Bag
Every day as a language assistant can be unexpected. My schedule lets me know what age groups and subjects I will have each day, but the specific activities can vary based on the classroom teachers' needs. They're the ones calling the shots, and we as assistants are there to support them which requires us to have a certain amount of flexibility and ability to improvise. One day I'm working with small groups teaching vocabulary for a natural science test, and the next I'm leading a game of Jeopardy with 30 students. This means that I need to be prepared for anything that's thrown at me when I arrive at school and have a bag stocked with supplies I may need. Below is a list of what I and other assistants have found helpful to keep on hand in our school bags.
Stickers are great rewards for a job well done or prizes for winning a study game. I always keep some in my bag to offer up as a little extra motivation for my students. The classroom teachers also often use sweets and snacks for the same purpose, but be mindful of allergies if you choose to take on that strategy.
2. Post-it Notes
Post-its can be used for just about anything and are an unexpected essential for your school bag. They can be used as flash cards, game pieces, slips for charades, and countless other things.
3. Game Pieces
Many days I bring fly swatters to class just in case we have time to play one of the students' favorite games. We put their vocabulary words on post-its and stick them on the chalkboard. The class is split into two teams and one member of each team gets a fly swatter. I read out the definition of a word and the first student to hit the correct word with their flyswatter wins a point for their team. It's a great way to review vocabulary that is starting to seem stale. Other assistants bring dice, board game templates, bingo cards, and other versatile supplies with them to class everyday. These kinds of games are great because they can be adapted for almost any subject matter on a moments notice.
4. Permanent Marker
You never know when you'll need to make a sign, or write a student’s name on something. A large permanent marker or felt-tip pen is a great item to have in your toolkit so you don't have to go running around the school looking for one.
The teachers have given me copies of several of their textbooks and workbooks. I always keep these on hand in case I have to use them to review concepts with students or prepare them for the next unit.
6. Day Planner
I always bring my day planner because teachers will often tell me in passing about upcoming events that I do not want to forget. Having a planner with me makes it easy to just jot them down so I can keep them in mind for the future.
7. Vocabulary Lists/Past Worksheets
I always keep past vocabulary lists and worksheets on hand. They can be great to dip back into and review in order to solidify the content in the students’ minds.
8. Exam Preparation Materials
My school has given me several resources to help me familiarize myself with the KET and PET exams that my students will be taking in May. I want to gather as much information about these exams as I can so that I can help properly prepare my students.
What do you miss the most while being abroad? Most people say peanut butter, flu medicine, or pancakes. The thing I miss the most while being overseas are my dogs! This blog post is how I try to see the positives while missing my furry friends back in the states, and making some new ones here in Spain!