What Teachers Need in Their Desks

What personal belongings should you keep in your teacher desk? A simple guide for new teachers.

What do teachers need in their desks? It can be a simple answer, but consider a few points too.

Of all the plans and organization you make as you prepare for your first year of teaching, don’t forget to plan for yourself. Teachers spend many hours at work and will need personal belongings.

Keep in mind that you will not be alone in your room. Rarely have I found students in my desk, but it has happened. Think ahead: is there anything—if students found it—that would horrify you? be an embarrassment to explain to administrators?

We are adults, but be wise about what you store in your desk.

I suggest gathering three bags and arranging them accordingly:


I bring fruit to school daily, but I stock one bag with emergency food. Some days I run late or don’t have fresh food to bring. As backup, I stock:

  • single-serve oatmeals
  • granola bars
  • almonds/ cashews
  • crackers
  • dry cereal
  • raisins
  • protein bars

Sometimes, the dry cereal is Cocoa-Puffs. Sometimes, the healthy granola is actually potato chips. I try. 

Caffeine saves me during the afternoon. I now work at a school that has coffee all day (this is major points on the happiness scale), but when I wasn’t in such luck, I kept Folgers singles on hand.

Just stock a few nonperishables that you will enjoy.


In my personal bag in my teacher desk, I have:

  • contact solution/ extra contacts
  • dental floss, toothpaste, toothbrush
  • lip balm
  • lotion
  • makeup (sometimes!)
  • hair ties/ brush
  • headache/ pain medicine
  • bandaids

I dislike mouthwash, but if you love it, sub that in. Backup glasses? Hand sanitizer? Think about what will make your days easier.

When I was younger, I kept makeup at work and at home; I just don’t anymore. Right now, I have an extra lipstick in my teacher desk.

You get it—whatever will make you feel comfortable at work. This list should give you a starting point.

If you're a new teacher, you have lots of plans to make. Don't forget to consider the personal side of teaching. Pack for yourself during your school hours.

Super Personal

I have a bag specifically for feminine care products. Once, I stuck all of these in with the personal bag, but now I keep a separate bag. (Male teachers, perhaps you will have two bags.)

If you are a young female teacher you will encounter a situation a few times a year. A female student will hurriedly walk to you, eyes frightened. She will look over her shoulder, turn back to you, and mouth, “do you have a…”

Hand her the super personal bag. Return to class and get the attention off her.

Do NOT give a student a bag with other belongings, especially one with medicine.

Years ago, I simply had a box of supplies, but that was not discreet for my students. I like having the bag to hand a female. Hopefully, her peers think she is running an errand for me.

What teachers need in their desks is simply what will help them get through long work hours. Consider that you share your room with people who may not follow society’s expectations of personal boundaries and plan from there. You can immediately download this list to get started!

Experienced teachers—please share! What do teachers need in their desks for personal use?

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