I'm guessing you've packed for a weekend trip at some point in your life, and as you've done so, you've told yourself that you were packing light - only bringing what you really need. Then 30 minutes later you zip up the bag, lift it, and think - what the heck did I just pack?
This may have been a similar situation when shifting from in-person to remote teaching at the start of the pandemic. You may even be facing this same situation again as schools continue to open and close due to illness rates. You may or may not have had the opportunity to grab a few essentials from your classroom to use to teach from home, at which point you may have felt like you were left in a resource lurch.
With this uncertainty, it may be a good idea to have your teaching tools pared down to real essentials, or have those few things set aside at home. The key is to choose items that allow for meaningful learning and engagement, not items that will clutter your workspaces, wherever that is.
I'm going to be blunt here and advise to ditch as many tangibles as you can. This is really hard for me to say and advocate for because I do love books and cool artifacts, but the more you can do digitally, the lighter your load will be. With that said, here are some digital and tangible options, keeping light load for both
1. Digital teaching tools:
Let's focus on the use of your phone, or even better - a tablet if you have access to one. This may be all you need to engage students in a whole lot of ways. Just plug your device into your computer and share the screen with your students. Here are some things you can do.
2. Tangible teaching tools:
If you need a tangible tools box, limit yourself to keep only a small tote box (think - sweater box) of items. Include items such as a few "bang for your buck" books that cover multiple concepts and techniques, a few grade or content specific artifacts, and a small whiteboard and marker.
Example: A book like Brown Girl Dreaming by Jacqueline Woodson is a solid choice because of the depth and meaning it offers.
Concepts include: growing up and coming of age, place, self-discovery, segregation, civil rights, family.
Writing techniques: poetic language, imagery, narrative poetry
The list of tools could be endless, yet choosing a few simple, no-fuss tools will save your sanity and your space. Try out new apps and replace artifacts in your tangible toolbox over time by setting up a schedule to do so.