Putting together your traveling classroom can be a nerve-racking task. It can be difficult to find the most packable things. After nearly two years as a full-time traveling teacher, I think I’ve found some pretty useful supplies that every portable classroom should have. This list includes gadgets to ensure you have the strongest wifi, a portable background, visual teaching aids, the best computers for teaching English online, and the best bags for comfort and style. These are the best teaching supplies for the portable classroom.
The Best Teaching Supplies for the Portable Classroom
I often get asked the same thing by teachers who are thinking about taking their online teaching job on the road. Most are concerned about internet connectivity, good lighting, and the right supplies.
My portable classroom has evolved quite a bit since we first set out with our online teaching jobs. I learned pretty quickly that the best way to combat neck and back pain from hours of sitting is to make your web camera eye level so you’re not looking down. It made a world of difference when I found a laptop stand. That’s the first supply you’ll find on this list.
You’ll also find the best visual aids like flashcards and puppets. Plus, I’ve included some gadgets to make sure you’ve always got a strong internet connection. I’ve done a lot of searching and tested quite a few products and come to the conclusion that these are some of the best teaching supplies out there.
Level up your portable classroom with these 10 essential items that I also use:
Best Supplies for Comfort, Lighting, and Connectivity
This laptop stand made a world of difference in my portable classroom. I use an 11″ laptop so the screen is much lower than my face. Before the stand came into my life, I would use whatever I could find in our accommodation from books to bowls and random boxes. This stand puts the camera at eye level and tilts the keyboard so it’s easier to type. If I were to teach my classes with my laptop flat on the table, my students would have a front-row seat to all my boogers. Gross! Click here to see all the details.
This is key to have when the power goes out or when you’re teaching at night. This has saved me a few times during power outages in Mexico. It folds to the size of an iPhone 6 and up for easy storage in your bag. Lightweight but sturdy, it doesn’t weigh you down. You can easily charge it with a computer or power bank with the included micro USB cable. Learn more here.
Having a retractable ethernet cable will allow you to plug your computer directly into the router. This will give you a more stable and faster connection and save you from having technical issues. I’ve used it before in Mexico and it definitely made a difference! Click here to see all the specs.
Many of the smaller laptops that are more travel-friendly don’t have an ethernet port. In that case, you’ll need to get an Ethernet adapter. This is the one that I use for my laptop and it works just fine. Click here to read all about it.
Sometimes you can’t be in the same room as the router and things like wall and stairways weaken the signal. A WiFi range extender gives the signal a boost making it stronger no matter where you are in the house. You’ll be able to enjoy fast, strong connections in rooms that previously suffered from Wi-Fi dead spots. Learn more here.
Best Visual Aids For the Online Classroom
Having a visual aid is so helpful in the classroom. I use my dry-erase board to draw funny pictures and give the students rewards. The flashcards are great for teaching letters and phonics to young learners. Hand puppets are the perfect tool for teaching students how to have a dialogue and helping shy students come out of their shell.
Help reinforce your students’ learning with a visual aid. These flashcards are bright and colorful plus they’re illustrated with something that begins with the letter on the card. They fit perfectly in your bag and don’t take up a lot of space. It’s the perfect teaching supply for young learners. Click here to check ’em out!
These fun and friendly hand puppets will make any classroom more fun! Show your student how to ask and answer questions or use them to help bring a shy student out of their shell. They also don’t take up much space in your suitcase. See which animals come in this pack of four.
Having a whiteboard in your portable classroom is a huge lifesaver. You can use it to give rewards, draw photos of things your student can’t visualize, and break down sentence structure. I could never leave home without my whiteboard. Sometimes it’s the only teaching supply you need. Having multicolored dry-erase markers makes it a lot more fun, too. Click here to check out the one I use.
A world map is a great background that you can easily fold up and take with you wherever you go! Your classroom will always be consistent no matter how often you’re moving to a new place and you can use it to show your students where you are in the world. Click here to see all the details.
You’ll need something to hang up your background with but you don’t want to ruin the paint job in your current accommodation. These command strips hold up to 12 lbs. and don’t take the paint off the wall. They’re perfect for hanging your portable classroom background. Click here to learn more.
Best Computers and Headphones for the Traveling Teacher
The best computer is really a matter of opinion based on which operating system you prefer. I’ve listed the 3 most popular computers among traveling VIPKID teachers and the computers that we use.
ASUS Chromebook – The Cheapest Option
A Chromebook is the cheapest computer for traveling teachers. Many different brands make Chromebooks and they range between $200-$300 depending on how powerful they are. This one made by ASUS is small and light. It can handle all of your teaching needs plus light internet browsing like emails, social media, playing music, or watching YouTube. A Chromebook is a great option if you don’t need extra programs and you’re used to using Chrome as your primary browser. Click here to learn all the specs.
Lenovo Yoga 2-in-1 Laptop – The Midrange Option
If you do more than just internet browsing on a computer like photo or video editing and playing games, you need a Windows machine. They usually range between $550-$800. The Lenovo Yoga is a great choice. It’s built to handle lots of different programs. It’s small, light, and perfect for taking on the road. This is what I use and I love the touchscreen option. It makes writing in class so much easier. Click here to learn more.
Apple MacBook Air – The High-End Option
If you’re a fan of Apple products, the MacBook Air is a favorite for many traveling teachers. MacBooks are powerful machines that can handle your online teaching classes and many other programs from games to video editing. It’s light and easy to pack making it perfect for travel. Apple products are durable and stand the test of time. Sasha has been using the same MacBook for 6 years! See all the specs here.
We travel in noisy places a lot. There’s always a construction site, lots of dogs barking, or a street vendor advertising their product. Noise canceling headphones keep your students from hearing what’s going on around you making for a much smoother class. It also reduces the possibility of complaints. This headset even has a mute button so you don’t have to worry about your student hearing you when you don’t want them to. Click here to read all the specs.
Best Bags For the Traveling Teacher
Whether you prefer to travel carry-on only or if you need a separate bag for your computer and teaching supplies, the following choices should give you some good ideas.
This backpack is super cute and has 7 pockets. It has more than enough space for all your teaching supplies. The laptop sleeve is against your back for a good distribution of weight. The other two front pockets are big enough for a tablet and a cell phone. An umbrella or a bottle of water fit into the two pockets on the side. Click here to see the different colors.
This bag is great if you prefer a shoulder strap to a backpack. It holds up to a 15″ laptop and you can customize the size. It also has smaller pockets for essential items like keys, passport, pens, and other things. Check out all the details.
Osprey Fairview/Farpoint 40L – For the Carry-On Only Teacher
Save yourself time by never checking a bag. The Osprey Farpoint/Farpoint 40L is the best backpack for storing all of your teaching supplies and other things. I’ve been using the same Osprey backpack for five years. They are super durable and definitely the best bang for your buck. The 40L size meets most carry-on regulations for most airlines (always check before you book). The Fairview is the women’s version and Farpoint is for men. Click here to learn more and choose your favorite color and size.
Whether you’re a weekend traveler or you travel full-time, you’ll definitely want to have the best tools and teaching supplies to make your portable classroom fun and engaging. When we first started teaching while traveling full-time, we didn’t have many of these tools and life was a struggle.
Everything on this list has made life so much better and taken both mine and Sasha’s classrooms to the next level. The portable laptop stand has cured my neck and back pain and provides a pleasant view for the student (no more boogie sightings!). Having a portable, foldable desk lamp makes it easier for students to see me which is especially great because it’s usually dark outside when I’m teaching.
The visual aids make class more fun and interesting for both the student and me. The computers I recommended are small, lightweight, and easy to pack into any of the bags I listed.
I hope this list has given you a few ideas for your portable classroom. Feel free to reach out if you have any questions!
Is there a teaching tool that you never leave home without! Drop it in the comments so I can add it to the list!
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