A common question I've seen posed by traveling teachers is: What do you carry with you?
Teachers tend to fall into 3 camps:
1. The Empty-Handed Ones: Some teachers take nothing but their bodies with them to lessons. I once heard a teacher describe how he carried an empty bag with him because he didn't really need anything, but he felt like he should carry something!
2. The Minimalist Ones: Others don't need much, and they have shaved their materials down to the bare minimum: pen, iPad.
3. The Ones with Back Problems: Then you have the teachers who take everything with them everywhere. They have all of the latest and greatest resources, games, manipulatives, rhythm instruments, fancy writing utensils, post-it notes...you get the idea.
I used to fall into camp 3. Every time I got something new, I would just add it to my bag. Overtime, my bag got bigger and heavier and messier, and my back started to ache from all of the weight I was carrying around.
It was a piano parent who saved me. One afternoon, as I was hoisting my two-ton tote bag into the back of my car she asked, "Why don't you just keep everything in your car, and only carry in what you need?"
Holy Mozart! Why had I never thought of this? I like to think of myself as a gifted problem solver, and yet, here I was, giving myself scoliosis from the weight of my teaching bag, and I'd never, ever thought to do this! That day I had what Oprah would call an "Aha Moment."
As soon as I got home, I got to work. I dumped the entire contents of my bag onto the floor of my living room and started sorting into two piles: 1. Things that I need to carry always (pencils, my iPad, assignment sheets, etc.) 2. Things that I could grab as I need them (games, rhythm instruments, etc.)
I also gathered together things that could serve multiple purposes like generic flashcards and these little foam beads that I found at Big Lots for a dollar and I still use for everything.
Today, I'm happy to say, my bag is much smaller and lighter, my games and resources are much more organized, and my back is recovering from all of the strain. Here's a look at what I carry around on a typical day of teaching:
-Accoridan file for the day
-A few games
-a couple pens
-game pieces and dice
-generic flash cards
Which camp do you fall into? What do you carrying in your bag? Let me know in the comments!
I teach piano in California. Here are some of my thoughts.