NOTE: For me, writing a first draft and sharing it via a public blog makes me feel vulnerable. But sharing first drafts with students is something I believe in because writing is a process. And sometimes, lousy first drafts are the only way to get to the next, hopefully better draft. I don’t ever want to post a polished piece I have carried through the entire writing process and pass it off to students like that’s how it looked when I started. So here is my raw, unformed mess. (I’m still trying to figure out why it won’t let me indent the paragraphs…sigh.) Enjoy!
I have a slight obsession with bags. I call them teacher bags because they’re what I use to tote around all of the folders, and lesson plans, and professional books, and my lunchbox, and extra pair of contact lenses (just in case), and pencil pouch, cell phone, car keys, wallet, coffee thermos, grade sheets, rosters, writer’s notebook, mail, water bottle, the Dunkin Donut in a brown paper bag that a kind colleague gave me, my leftover apple from lunch that I didn’t have the heart to throw away, my spiral book of my To-Do lists; and the novel I hope I get to read that night if all goes well.
As a new(ish) mom, I also find things in my teacher bags that amuse me and surprise me because I’m still not used to being someone’s mom sometimes. I’ve found the board book version of “Good Night Moon”, Legos, and sippy cup lids in my teacher bag. Finding items from my son always thrills me and makes me miss him. I usually pause and think of what he’s probably doing at the moment, and I feel blessed I get to see him after school.
Sometimes it’s hard for me to decide what to bring with me when I leave my house. I like to err on the side of caution and take anything I think I may need. I play the “What if?” game and run a panoply of scenarios through my head. “What if my left contact lens falls out while I’m teaching? That’s it! I’m packing my glasses, too.”
Because of this struggle, I have acquired several teacher bags. And I’m always on the lookout for the perfect teacher bag for me. I want a teacher bag that can hold a lot of stuff, look kinda cute and stylish, and keep me from hurting my back. I don’t want to develop health problems from lugging so many things between school and home each morning and late afternoon. Because of this, I have tried many teacher bags and experienced the vicissitudes of teacher transport.
When I was a first-year teacher, I had no idea what I would need when I was grading papers or planning at home so I brought EVERYTHING to and from school for most of the year. For that, I needed a little crate on wheels. The trouble was, every time it rained, all of my items would get wet.
Then I tried expensive backpacks. If the backpack had too many pockets, I would lose small items and I never seemed able to put items in the same place each time so I could find them again. Also, even the most expensive backpacks were no match for the volume and mass of the items I toted back and forth.
I soon moved on to a sleek leather satchel that I quickly discovered looked great but didn’t have enough room for anything. I got a lot of compliments on it but I had to carry not only my satchel, but a backpack and usually a grocery bag around at the same time.
Over the summer, I found an awesome laundry tote with handles at The Container Store in Reston. (Don’t get me started on how much I adore that place!) The tote was made from heavy duty plastic, a pretty powder blue color, and could fit a lot! I used it for play dates with my son and taking him to the pool. It could fit beach towels, swim diapers, sippy cups, water bottles, snacks, an extra change of clothes, a beach ball, and even my purse, inside.
As summer wound down and teacher work days began, I found I had grown attached to the laundry tote with handles. It was so easy to toss items in and go. It was sturdy. As I made the transition from home to school, I continued to carry new items for my classroom in the laundry tote. Slowly, it became my new teacher bag. One that made more than a few of my colleagues snicker. I began to feel like maybe it wasn’t appropriate or professional enough to be carrying my teacher goods in a laundry tote. So I looked at it sadly and returned it to the laundry room.
But what would I use now? That’s when it hit me! I know, I thought. I’ll use my rolling suitcase. The wheels rotate 360 degrees, the color is a nice shade of green, and there are pockets and zippers but not too many to confuse me. It’s protective enough so that rain won’t damage student papers, there’s a long handle so I won’t hurt my back, and it will fit everything easily! I was so excited to try it out that I packed it up that moment.
The rolling luggage I use is the one on the right.
It was awesome! I loved it! The only problem was when I wheeled it into work that next day, a few teachers laughed and I felt a little silly. I started to rethink my idea until I looked around the parking lot when I was leaving work that afternoon. I saw teacher after teacher lugging multiple bags to their cars. Some had to stop and reorganize their belongings. Some bags looked so heavy I felt bad for the teachers. Suddenly, I didn’t care what others thought. I had found something that worked for me even if it it’s original purpose was for traveling.
It makes sense to me to use my luggage for now. Maybe another teacher bag will come along, who knows? But to me, the only thing sillier than using a luggage for a teacher backpack…would be NOT to use one because I was worried about what other people think. I like my rolling luggage and maybe it will catch on and be the latest teacher trend.