While I love the beautiful handmade gifts of my students the most, there are a couple untraditional stocking stuffers that I’m putting on my Christmas wish list this year. These are the tried and true tools that somehow keep my classroom just a bit more sane during those hectic moments (like the days leading up to holiday break). So in the last eight days before Christmas, here are eight stocking stuffers for a colleague, teaching friend, or even yourself!
- Headphones: This was the greatest gift my cooperating teacher gave me. His secret was to always keep extra sets of ear buds handy. To this day, I stock up on cheap headphones from Marshalls (and alcohol wipes to clean them) at the beginning of the school year. Oftentimes it helps some of my antsier students tune out their surroundings and dial into their writing.
- Crazy Aaron’s Thinking Putty: Amy bought this for me this past
summer, and it is a miracle worker. I initially brought it in for a student who has severe ADHD. He was oftentimes overstimulated by his peers. Playing with the thinking putty changed his behavior drastically. What I love most is the thicker viscosity of the putty keeps students more engaged…and it comes in holiday colors, including white christmas, gelt, and candy cane.
- Conferring Chair: I wrote about my conferring chair here, but I cannot stress enough what an impact having this chair has had on accessing my students within the classroom. Last year I spent time kneeling next to students or awkwardly standing over them as they sat at their desks. Purchasing a conferring chair that was lightweight, foldable, and small allowed me to discreetly enter conversations, conference with students, and set up mini workshop areas throughout the classroom.
- Awesome Citations: I love giving my students small pick-me-ups, which include these quirky “awesome citations” I found at a novelty shop. I enjoy filling them out, leaving a small note at the bottom, and either tucking them into writer’s notebooks or dropping them off at unexpected times.
- Writing Prompt Books: As the advisor of Writer’s Club, I can’t get enough of writing prompt books like The Writer’s Block: 786 Ideas to Jump-Start Your Imagination by Jason Rekulak, 642 Things to Write About by the San Francisco Writers’ Grotto, and 100 Quickwrites by Linda Rief. Not only do I pull them out during club meetings, but I use them as inspiration for class quick-writes, or to begin brainstorming for independent writing pieces.
- Magnets: Magnets might not be on the top of your wish list, but they are exceptionally convenient when it comes to students’ presentations of writing, artwork, or posters. Odd, yes, but I love when my students can present hands-free without the awkwardness of holding large posters or pictures for other group members.
- Coloring Meditation Books: I love keeping photocopied pages from coloring meditation books on hand for spare moments. Not only are they calming for many students, particularly those with anxiety, but they are also great for extra time during club meetings and advisory or homeroom periods…or, as one of my students said, “My mom loves doing those when she drinks wine.” That is always an option for tired teachers too.
- My True Love Gave to Me: High school English teachers (and their students) will love this anthology of Christmas stories from top YA authors including some of my favorites, Rainbow Rowell, David Levithan, and Matt De La Pena!
What is on your teaching wish list or gift list this season?