First-Year Teacher Must-Haves: What the Veterans Wish Someone Told Them

Photo of Jeanne Sager
Updated | 3 min read

So you’re a first-year teacher? Congratulations! The adventure is just beginning, and you’re probably throwing your head around like The Weeknd at the Super Bowl trying to make sense of it all.

Good news: We’ve got the skinny on all the first-year teacher must-haves you should be stocking up on before your first day.

First-Year Teacher Must-Haves

We talked to teachers around the US, including some of the teachers who craft the thousands of resources on, and they’ve shared the one “must-have” they wish someone had told them they should have on hand during their first year of teaching!

An extra outfit

Mrs. Heather Cacioppo is a self-contained special education teacher who has been in the classroom for eight years. You might have seen her on Instagram @full_sped_ahead. Her wish? “That I would have been told to have a full change of clothes in the classroom for those days when your clothes get ruined for various reasons!”

Teacher tees — like this one from East Nash Teacher — are perfect to throw in your closet as you can put them over a dress or pop them on to replace a blouse that just got covered in paint.

woman wearing a t-shirt that reads teach teach teach


Ten years after she first started teaching, ELA teacher Maddie Schmalz, a Teach Starter resource creator, wishes she’d known to load her drawer with snacks and bring an electric kettle on day one. “Sometimes it is impossible to get to lunch and a quick handful of nuts or cup of tea can make a huge difference in your day,” she says. 

A behavior management plan

Lauren Piper’s eight years of teaching have been split between second grade and first, and the Teach Starter resource creator remembers too much focus on bulletin boards and decorations … and not enough on planning for behavior management. Her advice? “Focus on how you are going to manage your rules and routines in the classroom.”

Psst … these resources might help!

Image of Classroom Management Essentials Resource Pack

resource pack

Classroom Management Essentials Resource Pack

Ten classroom management resources that every teacher can use.

Teach Starter Publishing168 pagesGrades: K - 6
Image of Free Classroom Management Booster Pack

resource pack

Free Classroom Management Booster Pack

A free sample pack that includes six classroom management resources.

Teach Starter Publishing101 pagesGrades: PK - 6
Image of Virtual Reward Chart – Marble Jar

teaching resource

Virtual Reward Chart – Marble Jar

An interactive, virtual reward chart to motivate your students during online learning.

Teach Starter PublishingGrades: K - 5


Think the classroom cabinets will be enough? Think again. Miss Campos is a first-year teacher herself, and she immediately realized her classroom needed help to keep it organized. “I bought caddies for all desks and mine!” the transitional kindergarten teacher says. “I also bought a rolling cart to store materials and papers. I organize everything by day.” Follow her journey on @misscamposs on Instagram for more ideas! 


This seems pretty obvious, right? You’ve already bought your trusty Ticonderogas? Trust Colleen Burke. The fourth and fifth-grade math and science teacher and Teach Starter resource creator remembers her first year, and she was pretty darn clear when we asked “No matter how many you start with on the first day of school, they are all missing by month two!”

Check out Colleen’s clever states of matter activities

Back-Up Activities

Ever had a technology failure as a student-teacher or heck, just as someone living in the digital age? Teach Starter resource creator Melissa has been teaching ELA for six and a half years, and she wishes someone had told her to stock up on ready-made activities to fill in when the classroom technology was on the fritz. 

Plans to talk to parents

So you’re ready to talk to your students, but have you prepped to talk to their parents? Kasey Turner’s 25 years in the classroom have helped her build up this important teacher muscle, but she wishes someone had told her to prepare a script when she was first starting out! Don’t worry — we’ve got you covered with tips to develop a positive parent-teacher relationship, plus resources to help make it easier:

Image of Parent-Teacher Conferences – Planner Page – Green

teaching resource

Parent-Teacher Conferences – Planner Page – Green

A template to use for scheduling parent-teacher conferences.

Teach Starter Publishing1 pageGrades: PK - 6
Image of Parent Information Sheet

teaching resource

Parent Information Sheet

A template to gather important information from parents and guardians.

Teach Starter Publishing1 pageGrades: PK - 6
Image of Parent Handbook Flip Book Template

teaching resource

Parent Handbook Flip Book Template

An editable parent handbook template.

Teach Starter Publishing9 pages

Are you a first-year teacher? Did you know student and first-year teachers get 50% off their Teach Starter subscription? Sign up now and save!


Banner image via Shutterstock/Monkey Business Images


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