Teacher Hints

Tutoring Tote Tour

My tutoring totes are an organizing sanity saver! I tried a number of bags, boxes and other systems before settling on this. I tutor away from the office 90% of the time these day. Some days I see as many as 6-7 students before getting back to the office. These totes help me keep everything organized and tidy. I now have four totes.

In the morning before leaving, I pack each tote. I glance through my lesson plans and make sure to pack games, card decks and books that will be needed for that lesson. The student folders are also placed inside. Everything else is already there. I can fit 2-3 students worth of materials in one tote, although I prefer to bring one tote per stop. If I see two students back to back at one location I’ll put both folders in one tote. If I’m driving between the lessons I will usually pack two totes. When they are done I line them up in my car.

Three totes all ready to pack in the car.

When I get home each day I unpack the student folders and the materials specific to those lessons. The totes fit perfectly in my office cubbies out of the way and ready to pack up tomorrow.

Totes in cubbies
Waiting for a student at the library.

I keep basic supplies in all the totes at all times. I organize each exactly the same so I always know where things are. I don’t like wasting lesson time fumbling around for supplies!

  • Front pockets: dry erase markers & eraser, crayons, glue and glue sticks, scissors and hole punch. Paper clips and a few rubber bands are stored in the pocket with the glue.
  • Large side pocket: dot markers, phonogram cards
  • 2 smaller side pockets: blank index cards, small stapler, magnetic syllable frames
  • Inside loops: pencils (lots), markers, highlighters, tube with dice, tube with bingo chips
  • Main compartment: sticker box, container of mini erasers, whiteboard, letter tiles and magnet board, small box of magnetic letters, file of lined and white paper, file of extra forms (dictation sheets, notebook forms, blank charts), letter line, plastic canvas sheets, laminated blending boards, a few extra games.
Supplies that I always keep in each tote

The totes themselves are inexpensive (less than $20) 12 inch tool totes. They are very sturdy and I’ve had several of mine for years and are still going strong. The pink ones are from Sears and the brown from Home Depot. I like the pink ones the best. Not only are they cuter, but the loops are elastic and stretchy. The brown tote has fabric tape loops that are a bit harder to use. The brown one does have a nifty zipper back pocket that is useful.

Inside loops

I get a fair number of questions about the tubes that I use for dice and chips. They are just Mini M&M tubes. Years ago when my kids were young and still living at home I bought a bunch of tubes and they happily emptied them for me. Fifteen years later the tubes are still in use!

Organization is vital for a tutor on the go! It took me time to figure out a system that works for me.

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