17 Essentials for Your Special Education Classroom

I recently got an email from a newly graduated teacher headed towards the first classroom of her very own.  She wanted to know what were some must-haves for her special education classroom.  I tried to think of some of my favorite items and some less-obvious things.  I came up with 17 things that made my classroom life easier and better.

If you're not a special education teacher, that is okay!  Most of the things on this list will apply to you and your classroom too!

***This post contains affiliate links from Amazon.  If you make a purchase through one of these links, you will not pay a penny extra but I will earn a small commission.  I have only included links to brands or products that I have used and stand behind!***

Astrobrights Paper

I use Astrobrights Color Paper for so many reasons!  If I have an important note to send home, I use a bright color to catch the attention of parents.  When I give my students a cheat sheet or mini anchor chart to keep in their folders, I use Astrobrights so that it's easy to find.

I also like to color code a lot of things in my classroom to keep me organized.  For example, I color code my annual reviews and triennial reviews at the beginning of the year so I can visually prepare for all of the testing that needs to be completed.  I wrote another blog post about how I organize myself for all of my IEP meetings.

BIC Ultra Fine Point Markers

I know all teachers have their favorite marking-pen.  Some like Flair pens while others like Sharpie brand markers.  I LOVE LOVE LOVE BIC Ultra Fine Point markers.  I love the color choices.  I love the way they write.  They last a long time and the price is right!

Post-It Notes

I use Post-its so many things!  Exit tickets, hall passes, notes to students and other teachers, reminders, book marks, notes for guided reading, lists...  The list goes on and on.  I often use them to label my file folders so I don't have to write directly on the folder.

A GOOD Pencil Sharpener

I have used so many different brands and types of pencil sharpeners.  The one that I found that lasts the longest and works the quickest is the X-ACTO School Pro Classroom Electric Pencil Sharpener.  You can extend the life of your pencil sharpener by only allowing adults to use it unless you train your students to use it correctly and avoid using colored pencils and speciality pencils in it.  I don't allow the electric sharpener to be used during class but keep manual pencil sharpeners in my table caddies for students to quietly use on their own.

Colorful File Folders

I use Colored File Folders to organize just about everything.  I don't like stray papers and try to make a place for every paper, even if one of the file folders is labeled as "to be filed".  For some reason, a stack of folders looks neater than a stack of loose paper!

A Small Tool Set

 I cannot tell you how many times I needed a screwdriver or a hammer to complete a minor fix.   Sometimes, you just need to change out a set of batteries!  I used to borrow from a coworker of mine but then I decided I needed my own small tool set for my classroom.  It doesn't get used every day, but it is nice to have it available for when I need it.  It's also nice to have your own extension cord for when you need it.


I would be lost without my desk calendar flashing everything I need right in my face!  I write everything on it.  At the end of the month, I tear off the old month and fold it up to file away.  I like to keep my calendar pages for the entire school year just in case I need to go back and find a date when something happened.  You'd be surprised how often that is!

I would also be lost without my ME Planner from Plum Paper.  I have it preloaded with everybody in my family's name.  It holds the master schedule for all five of us plus I keep important work stuff.  I've always gotten the 7x9 version but I think I am going to go with the A5 version next time.  It's just a bit smaller and will fit in my purse better.

Sticky Chart Paper

My favorite paper for anchor charts is Post-it Chart Paper.  I love that it is sticky on the back just like a regular Post-It.  You can move it from place to place as needed.  Trying to fiddle with tape or having kids hold paper up got really distracting.  I love that I can create a chart with my class and then immediately tear it off, hang it up, and move on to create the next chart.  If you don't have an easel, you can purchase the chart paper with it's own easel included.  LOVE!


I first added a mini fridge to my classroom when I was a nursing mom and pumping at school.  It quickly because a must-have!  To save time in the morning, I bring in enough food for my week to store in my fridge.  I love having choices when I go to grab lunch out each day.

Hook & Loop Fasteners (VELCRO)

I love VELCRO dots!  I've used VELCRO dots for behavior charts, posters, calendars, name tags on desks, and on bulletin boards.  I like the dots more than the strips because they're already the correct size and already have adhesive on the back.
In one of my classrooms, I had those soft wall dividers to split my room in half.  I used hard side of the VELCRO on the back of my posters and they stuck right onto the dividers!  It gave me such much more usable wall space!


I don't think I need to explain why a microwave oven would be helpful.  How many times a day does your coffee or tea get cold?  How about those days where you don't have time to wait for the microwave in the teacher lounge?  I used my microwave just about every day.

Banner Paper

Our school has banner paper we can use but I like having my own roll of white banner paper in my classroom.  We use it for posters, banners, body tracing, and table cloths.  I keep a roll at home as well.  I often use painter's tape to tape it to the floor and let the kids go crazy!  It ends up making great wrapping paper too!

Instant Ink

Have you tried HP Instant Ink?  I love it because I can print anything I want in COLOR!  All you need to do is buy an HP printer that is compatible with the Instant Ink program and then sign up for your Instant Ink plan.  If you use my link, we both get a free month of printing.  I never worry about printing anymore with Instant Ink.

Mechanical Pencils

I only use pencil when writing on my calendar and in my planner.  I prefer to use mechanical pencils because they're always "sharpened" to a point.  Nothing bugs me more than a dull pencil!  I always use a mechanical pencil when modeling work with my document camera so I can demonstrate erasing mistakes instead of crossing them out.  I keep mechanical pencils and regular pencils in my table caddies.  I know some teachers do not allow students to use mechanical pencils, but I have never had any trouble after a bit of training.
Just like with regular pencils, I find that the pencil often outlasts the eraser.  The pencil-top erasers don't fit on mechanical pencils so I keep larger pink erasers in my table caddies.  

Director's Chair

If I am at the front of my classroom, I am usually in my director's chair.  I've tried a wheeling chair but I didn't have the height and I tried stool but I didn't have the comfort of the back and arms.  The director's chair was just right!  Can you find mine in my super small, super messy classroom?
One day, I want to get my name embroidered on the back!

Laminating Pouches

Every school district I have worked in has had a lamination machine but often times, it could take weeks for anything to get back to you.  I keep a stash of laminating pouches for small jobs or things I need right away.  I'll also use my own pouches if I am laminated something really special since these lamination pouches seem to hold up better than the lamination that my schools have used.


Well, how will you use your lamination pouches without a laminator?  I love this one because it works really well and it is small enough to carry back and forth between home and school.  

These are some of the essential creature comforts that make my life as a teacher easier and more enjoyable.  What else do you NEED in your special education classroom?

No comments

Post a Comment