For many who teach (even in an informal way), there is no formal classroom. Or you move to different classrooms throughout the day. Or anywhere/everywhere is your classroom through the transformative power of your teaching.
No matter your classroom situation/particulars, we see you and we’re here for you.
We, like you, see the challenge this poses because learning is a resource-intensive process. Notebook paper, pens, pencils, flashcards, handouts, and even first aid are necessary parts of the profession.
It’s hard to ask someone to learn something when they are preoccupied with a bleeding finger. This makes having these things crucial, and most teachers who have a classroom keep all these things and more on hand.
For 6 years I have been a co-teacher, which means bouncing all over the school, all day long. Over that time I have perfected a way to have all these things and more at my fingertips. Behold! The Mobile Command Center:
If you want to recreate something similar for yourself I have provided a step-by-step guide below. I added buying links to save you the hours of googling and years of trial and error I put into this.
But also, make it your own. If you already have something similar that would work, use that 🙂 I am not getting paid by any of the companies below, so do what’s right for you and your students.
Start with the Bones
Early on I realized that a mobile cart was absolutely necessary. I tried having little stations in all of the classes I taught in, but then I needed to refill supplies in 6 different rooms.
I never knew what I had and what I needed in any given room, plus I needed 6 duplicates of everything. This led me to discover what pretty much everyone on the planet already knew about, the box on wheels.
It looks like this:
Then the… Muscles?
Now that you have the box, you may be tempted to just start stacking papers and random boxes of pencils in it. For a while, I tried that too, but it just didn’t work. I needed something to add order to the chaos, then while Pinterest-ing I found something very much like this:
It provides me with space for pretty much everything I have. It makes it easy for my students to just grab things they need and most importantly, it keeps me from ending up with my stuff all over the ground on a regular basis. (It’s Phoenix, our halls are outside and our sidewalks are elderly and uneven, so bumps=splatted computer).
I’ve used the canvas cover on many rainy days to shelter my papers. I use pretty much every nook and cranny it has. I bought this in 2014, and it’s still going strong today.
This guy has become a little spendy since I bought one, so here’s another less likely to invoke sticker shock:
Lastly, It Will Need Guts
Not everything fits in a pouch or compartment, however, so I needed additions.
For all the things in the “guts section” (with the exception of my step dad’s old canister), I got everything at the Container Store, otherwise known as where I will go when I die if I’ve been good.
The first thing I purchased was a file holder so I could have a place for all the notes I take for my students, their tests and papers and so on.
Useful, but Random Stuff Tackle Box
There are some things I only need occasionally, such as a stapler or those 3 hole paper repair stickers. For that stuff I have a neat little tackle box I keep at the bottom of the box.
Pencil/ Pen box
As a teacher I use many more pencils, pens, led, and erasers than my box pockets will hold. I found that an additional box fit on the side of the box and worked great for this purpose. I found this nifty double-sided one to separate my pens and pencils.
Passes, Stickers, and Tabs… so many of all of these
Most schools like to spam you with the sheer volume of pass types. This one is for the nurse, this one is to the office, this one goes to the upside-down, and so on.
My school is no different. In addition, I like to keep stocked up on cool stickers (because no one actually grows out of them) and sticky tabs that help my kids organize their notes. A simple plastic box, propped up on its side in the box is perfect for this function.
Dealing with Ouchies, Stains, and Minor Catastrophes
Arguably the most important thing in my whole command center is the first aid kit. Let’s face it, if you’re not feeling your best, you just can’t focus.
This doesn’t have to just mean a minor cut, it could be a hangnail or an ashy patch of skin. From wardrobe malfunctions to that time of the month, I try to carry everything to help my kids feel comfortable and minimize long strolls to the nurse. This is the box I use to hold all these things:
Dress it up and Fill It
With all of the above, you will be ready for almost anything and will be able to access it in a flash. I get almost all my supplies from the dollar store because they seem to have everything I need for not too many monies.
As I noted above I snagged a canister from my Step Dad’s house which is so bright and fun, it always makes me feel cheery. I added a dry erase locker magnet I one-hole punched and added binder clips in a sheet protector to serve as my office hours, but that is a DIY for another post.
Not everything I listed is going to work for you. I hope you got some ideas and resources to help create your own mobile command center for your gig.
I’ve gone through 3 boxes in 6 years, but otherwise, everything has stood up to abuse. I could not do what I do without this thing and highly recommend that if you’re on the go, you make one that suits you.
Happy mobile teaching everyone!