Everyone knows that being a teacher requires you to be super organised, and I would argue that being a student teacher requires this even more! Not only have you got to stay on top of the planning, marking and assessment for your class but you’ve also got regular university assignments, exams, tests and essays to contend with! It’s a pretty intense year.

As I’m now a term into my teacher training year I thought I would share a few of my top stationary picks to help keep organised and on top of that huge pile of work that you’ve got to do (sorry!!).

Teacher planner – Amazon £8.95



This planner is fantastic because it doubles up as a weekly lesson planner and an academic diary. I fill mine with literally everything; from my in-school lesson plans, reflections and evaluations, essay deadline, lecture and seminar rooms, mentor meetings and everything else in between! It’s great to have all your ‘teaching stuff’ in one place and be able to plan your lessons within that same place too. You may think the black design is a little boring, but I like to keep it professional! There are many other colours and more jazzy designs available.

Fine-lined coloured pens – WH Smiths £7.99


Anyone who is as obsessed with colour coding their revision notes as me then you will most likely already have a set of these babies! If not – you need them in your life! Completing a teacher training year is A LOT of paperwork, much of which refers to other paperwork which links to other documents which is connected back to yet more (you guessed it) paperwork. Using these to write plans and notes in different colours to code and sort them will be a game changer for you. And at the end of a stressful day they are also really good for those stress-busting ‘adult colouring books’! My favourite are the Stabilo brand as I find they last a long time and the colours are bright and vivid.

Rollbound ring-binders & lever-arch files – WH Smiths

(ring-binders £2.99/ lever -arch files £3.99)



You will 100% need ring-binders and lever -arch files while completing your course. I’m only one term in and I’ve completely filled two already!  The ‘rollbound’ spine of these folders is something I have come across fairly recently and have found to be brilliant. The spines are basically rounded rather than straight, giving the folder much more flexibility and making it less vulnerable to breakage when it gets a little full! These are a fantastic price in WH Smiths and they do them in a range of brightly coloured prints and designs so stock up now! You’ll need them.

Highlighter pen wheel – Paperchase £8

Clearly, there will be lots that will need to be highlighted when you are a teacher! I like having a range of colours on one ‘wheel’ as a space saver and to have lots of colours at my fingertips rather than having to scrabble around and locate them all in my drawer (which is not organised by the way!) I love this ’emoji’ highlighter wheel from Paperchase, and the children will love it too! Instant cool points.

‘To do today’ list notepad – Etsy £3.25


As well as having a diary I also think it’s helpful to have a separate To-Do list to write on a daily/weekly basis. I always find it a really productive exercise to physically write down everything I’ve got to do that day in order of priority and then leave it somewhere where I will keep seeing it! I really like this cute list from SiouxAlice on Etsy.

Sturdy backpack – Paperchase £32

Once you’ve got all your fancy new stationary then you need a vessel to carry it all in! I can’t lug everything around on my shoulder – it gives me a neck ache, so I always find a backpack to be more comfortable and practical. I really like this one from the ‘Get Organised’ range from Paperchase.

Like many people, at 18 I had no idea what I wanted to do with my life.  I had done well at school, my passion being the arts, but ensure if I wanted to pursue them as a career. I knew I wanted to travel but had no money to do it.  I spent a few years drifting from job to job, and when I say job to job I mean it.  I think I recently calculated that I have had no fewer than 13 full time ‘careers’, although can you call it a career if you lasted 6 months?! I’ve done sales, property, makeup counter, temping, admin, payroll, hospitality, I could go on…In the middle of this I went travelling for 6 months, had the absolute time of my life, but came back still none the wiser about job prospects or a goal for the future.

Fast forward to the ripe old age of 24 and it came to me! I’d always fancied being a teacher but had always shyed away from it, partly due to being too lazy to do a degree to be honest. But now I felt ready for the challenge.  I found a degree at the University of Greenwich in primary ed, was offered a place and before I knew it I was moving to London with Paul and becoming a fulltime student.

I was considered a ‘mature student’ which sounds scary. But really it’s no different, and it basically just means anyone who is 21 and not a school leaver. I still got all the benefits and financial funding so really there is no difference.

The main difference for me personally was that I was not living at home, or in University halls. I was a nearly-married woman trying to rent a flat in a very expensive part of London with my fiance on a Student Loan and trying to balance working 20 hours per week, uni and actually having a life. At times, it was tough. But I’m so proud of myself and my achieving a first class hons. I have one year left of on-the-job teacher training and then I will be fully qualified and ready to start my real career.

Disadvantages: yes, maybe you don’t get eh ‘full’ mad, student experience, but to be honest that’s down to personal choice. I didn’t live on campus so I was slightly removed from all that, but if you want to live in halls and play shithead every night aged 50 there is literally nothing stopping you! I think there are many advantages to attending uni a bit later. I feel more confident in myself and the subject I chose, I think many school leavers are rushed and pressured into a decision and their hearts not in it. I also felt more motivated to prove people wrong and show them that I could do it even after having been out of education for 6 years. I made lots of new friends, had great experiences and learnt a lot.

If anyone is considering going to University as a mature student (whether you are actually mature or not) I would say go for it. It’s not as bad as it sounds! There is literally no age limit and it could change your life.


I can’t put it off any longer, the culmination of any uni student’s degree and the result of years of work comes down to the dreaded dissertation.  Some of you may be horrified that I have left it this late to start, as many of my friends dissertations are due within the next few weeks, however as my course is a 2 year accelerated degree our term finishes much later and mine isn’t due until the 14th June! Phew.

However, that may seem like a long way off but it’s not: it’s less than 2 months. So this week I decided to get down to business and begin.

How to begin. It’s difficult. If you are a procrastinator and a last minute.com person like me then it’s exceptionally hard. However it’s important to understand that this piece of work is quite a large chunk of most degrees and I would be devastated to throw away my hard work by failing to plan effectively. So I have actually started this piece of work in advance to give myself the best chance of getting a good mark.

The worst thing about a dissertation is the thought of it.  At the beginning it seems enormous; a marathon that you’ll never finish. But once you begin it seems to shrink. My approach so far has been reading some books on my topic and making rough notes in a book and then at the end of each day typing the notes up. So far I have my introduction plus about 2000 words of my literature review, which I’m quite proud of! My dissertation is an educational research project, so I still have a long way to go conducting interviews and writing up the results.

My advice to any future students would be to start early, do a bit at a time and don’t let it take over your life. I know it sounds easy to say but I can tell you that it seems much more manageable to me now than certain essays which I have started the day before they’re due! Also, make use of your dissertation supervisor which will be much easier if you do start early, as they will be much more inclined to read through your work and offer advice if you give it to them in plenty of time. Lastly, choose a topic that you are genuinely interested in and at least have some experience of (I chose outdoor learning which is something that I have written 2 other essays on during my course) because it’s a lot less work as a lot of the literature is already read and I can recycle notes.

It’s not that scary so far. Ask me in a month’s time and I might feel differently! Wish me luck…


2016-04-19-blog- Jess Mann-B