Coaches travel around a lot during any given day.  I know I’ve spent the last two days chatting up the importance of assessment, but gearing up to do this sort of work also includes simple things….like ensuring that you don’t have to borrow materials from the teachers you are working with. This is how you might end up writing on a brand-spankin’-new white board with permanent marker or pulling off some other equally horrifying feat of destruction. Not that I know anyone who may have done that during opening week. Just sayin’.

For what’s it’s worth, arming yourself to the teeth with a portable stash of useful materials is as important as toting a lunch that can be eaten while navigating a hall filled with giddy middle school students. Think sandwich and not salad. Dripless water bottles are also a coach’s best friend.

In no particular order, I present you with a list of supplies, materials, and tools that literacy coaches I know and love try to bring with them wherever they go. Tell me what you’d add.

Outfitting the Fully Equipped Literacy Coach:

  • If you do not have to navigate stairs too often, a crate on wheels can save your back and shoulders from a world of pain. It also frees up one hand for use in transit. You may now eat previously mentioned sandwich, take a sip of water, and place a guiding hand on the shoulder of that middle school student who is walking backwards down the hall, blissfully unaware of your existence and the fact that he/she is about to slam into you. For the record, I paid ten bucks for the crate that I use almost daily seven years ago. It was worth every dime.
  • Dry-erase markers top my list of tools all coaches refuse to leave home without. I carry a variety of wide and fine line markers in different color
  • Blue painter’s tape and packing tape both allow you to hang things semi-permanently, without damaging wall paint, chalk ledges, or other furniture and material
  • Sticky notes in a variety of sizes and colors are handy for capturing annotations on student work that can be later added to portfolios or brought to meetings. They are also invaluable for a variety of learning and coaching purposes (even though they are really bad for the environment as any number of my friends, colleagues, and family members will remind me on an almost daily basis)
  • A pack of lined paper to share with those who might need it during demo lessons or coaching sessions
  • A few sheets of address labels–to use as makeshift name-tags when opportunity calls
  • Blank overhead transparencies if you use this particular piece of equipment
  • A jump drive or memory card, packed with your own resources (for spur-of-the-moment sharing)
  • A mini-kit of office supplies (I bought mine at Target, but you can make one on your own, I’m certain). Mine includes a microscopic stapler, roll of tape, folding scissors, notepad, pen, pencil, and eraser. I tossed in some rubber bands and paper reinforcements just for kicks).
  • Business cards with your contact information, as well as links to your blog, wiki, social bookmarks and other resources that provide valuable support to teachers. Magnetized ones are especially handy!
  • I created and carry an inventory of professional resources I’m willing to share with teachers, which includes a place for them to record their names and email addresses as things are borrowed or returned
  • A digital camera is handy for documenting your work, collecting data, capturing student or teacher work samples, or taking shots of bulletin boards, centers, and experiences that you don’t want to forget.
  • A Flip video camera allows you to do the same and more. Teachers sometimes add Flip cameras to learning centers in order to capture performances and conversations that unfold within them. Fancy coaches have iPhones and other gadgets that address several of the previous bullet points nicely. I’m not so fancy. ; )
  • A information sheet for each school provides the names, room locations, email addresses, and phone numbers of teachers and administrators I work with. Bell schedules, calendars, and other essential information is captured here as well.
  • Each year, I program key phone numbers for those I am working with into my phone, so that I can contact them quickly when I need to.
  • I use a wiki to share resources, start conversations, and post available coaching dates and times for teachers. They sign up for their sessions within that space.




  1. Janet Bavonese Reply

    I love the list…and would add a couple of things…I have found that having my own little timer is helpful for modeling lessons, also since I carry my own pointers and a device for classroom management, such as a rainstick, tambourine, or triangle bell. These are great for bringing the class back together after an activity and it’s a wonderful model of an idea for a way to do that!

  2. Thanks, Janet! This is helpful to me as I begin working with elementary level teachers this year. I appreciate!

  3. Diane Scott Reply

    This is an excellent list. However, it causes me problems because I travel across the country doing my coaching. Now that so many airlines charge for extra baggage, I have found that when I travel to an assignment and stay at the same hotel each time I am in one district, I can make arrangements with the appropriate hotel clerk to have a box of materials that I have stocked, be kept in a safe area, usually somewhere in the buisness center, so that I have it to use each time I am there. I usually purchase the supplies in the city where I am assigned, then the only time I need to take the supplies on the airplane is at the end of the school year. Often, I give the supplies I haven’t used to some of the teachers that I have worked with and I don’t have to take them on the plane at all.

  4. That’s a bit of great problem solving, Diane. I don’t travel quite that far, but I know that some coaches do. This is a great tip–thanks so much for sharing!

  5. Awesome tips, Angela! I’ve been thinking about creating such a “kit” myself this year, so your timing is perfect! One thing I’m including in my kit is a pencil box full of sharpened pencils for loaning during modeled lessons.(But I have to find an easy way to mark them so I can get them back.) Thanks for the suggestions!

  6. That’s a great idea, Linda. I find that demo lessons are tripped up by these little details. I always carry a pencil box or bag when I work with teachers….never thought to add to this list for work in classrooms though.

  7. Hi again Angela,

    I am just starting to use my Tablet in the classroom, in a couple of weeks I should have some real data on its value. So far I am very happy with it!

    Kevin Jarrett

  8. Hey would you mind stating which blog platform you’re using?

    I’m planning to start my own blog in the near future but I’m having a hard time deciding between BlogEngine/Wordpress/B2evolution and Drupal.
    The reason I ask is because your design and style seems different
    then most blogs and I’m looking for something completely
    unique. P.S Sorry for being off-topic but I had to ask!

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