The Educator Bucket List

I am Type-A. I like lists and things I can check-off. In fact, I have been known to add items to my checklists that were not on there, just so I can check them off. I blame this on my mom–the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree!

So I got to thinking recently, what are things that educators do … or could do … or should do. A list that any educator has the power to complete, even if it requires a little bit of work. That’s where this “bucket list” originated. It’s certainly not exclusive, but it has a wide-range of CAN DO (shout out to my Inside the Trenches book there) items and experiences unique to teaching. Some are funny, others are serious, and there are ones that just come with the territory! Don’t feel bad or guilty if you haven’t done all of them, I know I certainly haven’t! But whether you are entering your first year in education or your thirtieth, I hope you continue to push yourself to try something new, have fun, and let your personal teaching bucket list grow!

Below you will find 123 items for your Bucket List. Why 123? My birthday is January 23rd (123). I was born at 1:23PM (123). The Jackson 5 said it’s “easy as 1-2-3.” And I also ran out of ideas after 123 items. It was meant to be.

Without further ado, here is the first edition of The Educator Bucket List:

1. Write a positive email, note, or phone call home to a parent about their child.
2. Go out for dinner or drinks with co-workers.
3. Go to work when you’re not feeling well (because it’s easier than writing sub plans).
4. Receive a “nasty gram” from a parent.
5. Apply a Band-Aid, gauze, or Ace bandage to an injured child.
6. See a student/parent at the grocery store (also insert any public location).
7. Teach a lesson in a costume.
8. Grade papers in your pajamas, on your couch.
9. Mistakenly use your “teacher voice” in an inappropriate setting.
10. Decorate your classroom with a theme.
11. Buy something off of Teachers Pay Teachers.
12. Sell something on Teachers Pay Teachers.
13. Use an idea from Pinterest.
14. Bring in items from home into your classroom for a lesson.
15. Attend a professional development during the summer.
16. Present at a professional development or conference.
17. Start a classroom blog, Twitter, Instagram, or Facebook account (or any other social media).
18. Use music in your lessons.
19. Reference something from before your students were born and realize they have no clue what you are talking about.
20. Sleep through your alarm clock and have to call your co-worker to cover your homeroom.
21. Attend a student’s ball game, performance, award ceremony, etc.
22. Have everything go wrong on the day you are getting evaluated.
23. Nearly gag at the smell of your room when your students enter right after recess or physical education.
24. Have a student cry because they had a bad morning.
25. Collect Box Tops for Education.
26. Try a new piece of technology even though you aren’t sure how it works.
27. A student vomits in your room.
28. Begin counting ceiling tiles or cinder blocks on the wall while proctoring standardized testing.
29. Write on desks, windows, or mirrors with dry-erase markers.
30. Talk to your students about college or careers.
31. Take your class on a virtual field trip.
32. Write a grant.
33. Volunteer in the community with your students.
34. Visit your students at their home.
35. Arrange for an author to visit your school or set up a Skype with him/her after reading their book.
36. Bake cookies, brownies, or cupcakes for your students “just because.”
37. Don’t say anything negative for an entire day (not one thing!).
38. Bring in a guest speaker from the community.
39. Videotape yourself teaching a lesson and critique it afterwards.
40. Teach your lesson in an accent.
41. Do yoga or aerobics with the students.
42. Be a part of a new school opening.
43. Learn all of your students’ names in three days or less.
44. Dance on the roof of your school–don’t fall.
45. Switch jobs with a teacher, custodian, secretary, cafeteria person, principal, specials teacher, etc. for one day to see what it is like.
46. Receive a note or a visit from a former student years after having them, telling you the difference you made in their lives.
47. Invite the local television station or newspaper to cover something exciting that you are doing with your students.
48. Coach or run a club or interest group.
49. Bring breakfast for your co-workers.
50. Loop with your students.
51. Have 100% of your students show growth on your state’s exams.
52. Let your students teach in front of their peers.
53. Fundraise with your students for a good cause.
54. Organize a field trip.
55. Attend a training at the Ron Clark Academy (not a coincidence it comes in at #55).
56. Present a “symbol of greatness” for your students.
57. Host a student teacher.
58. Present your best teaching idea at a staff meeting.
59. Write a note to a co-worker for being a great teacher.    
60. Earn a teacher travel grant.
61. Attend at least a three hour IEP meeting.
62. Choreograph a dance with your students that you can perform in front of the school.
63. Read a book about teaching or education at least once a year.
64. Apply for your National Board certification.
65. Participate in a webinar or Twitter chat.
66. Teach the entire day without sitting down.
67. Make eye contact with your students the entire time you teach.
68. Dress for success!
69. Teach your students how to greet people–here’s how to do it.
70. Give out pencils to students, even after you ask them to have a pencil before they enter the classroom (insert any other classroom item).
71. Be the first one to school in the morning or the last one to leave in the evening.
72. Have a student copy something that you wear, a hairstyle, or mimic your catchphrases.
73. Incorporate your students’ phones or technology into your lesson.
74. Hang up pictures of your students in the classroom.
75. Attend a former student’s high school or college graduation.
76. Be on time for lunch, specials classes, and class changes.
77. Earn a higher education degree or specialist certification.
78. Change your seating arrangement at least four times a year.
79. Allow the students to create their own assignment or rubric based on what you are studying.
80. Observe a colleague teaching and then let them watch you.
81. Play learning games and then share them with others.
82. Get a drum for the class.
83. Admit when you made a mistake.
84. Find time for a personal hobby or interest outside of school.
85. Show your students a picture of you when you were their age.
86. Come up with a secret handshake that only you and your students know.
87. Celebrate your students’ outside-of-school accomplishments inside of the classroom.
88. If you have a student with English as their second language, learn phrases in their native language.
89. Start pen pals with a class in another state or country.
90. Invite your students’ parents into class for a day so they can see what actually happens in the classroom.
91. Pull a prank on your students.
92. Have the students pull a prank on you.
93. Your interactive white board or other planned technology for a lesson fails when you are about to start.
94. Say “I’ll wait until it’s quiet”.
95. Begin a lesson with an unexpected hook or activity.
96. Plan a “class dinner” out at a local restaurant for families interested in getting together.
97. Tutor students before or after school for free.
98. Ask your students how old they think you are.
99. Collect money for a field trip or fundraiser while trying to start your morning.
100. Forget to take attendance and getting a call from the front office reminding you to.
101. Get a classroom pet.
102. Share your life experiences with your students.
103. Successfully complete a Donor’s Choose project.
104. Give a colleague a hug when they are having a tough day.
105. Create cheers or chants to celebrate your students.
106. Model the expectations and rules that you establish in the class.
107. Catch one of your students picking their nose.
108. Chaperone a dance or school event.
109. Invite a local professional sports team to your school.
110. Come up with a unique way to welcome the students back to school.
111. Publish your students’ writing.
112. Switch grade levels.
113. Have your own parents or family members visit your classroom.
114. Incorporate your students’ interests, hobbies, and backgrounds into your lessons.
115. Start a “house system” in your class or school (a la Harry Potter).
116. Have someone tell you “it must be nice to have summers off.”
117. Beat a student at a video game.
118. Take your class outside for a lesson.
119. Have your students complete an anonymous feedback form on your class, giving you ideas on what they like and what to change.
120. Set a classroom goal and let the students pick their reward.
121. Include liquid nitrogen, helium, or fire in a lesson.
122. Stand on a desk, chair, stage, or platform while teaching.
123. Be AWESOME! (It’s my teaching catchphrase.)

So what’s your bucket list count? Which bucket list item do you hope to achieve next year? What else is on your personal teaching bucket list?

I also wanted to thank many educator friends who contributed to this list!

Kelly Dowdy, Dubraska Stines, Dana Givens Chen, Lori Gaillard, Heather Williams, Lynn Timon, Jenny Bredemeier, Beverly Newsome, Fran De La Torre, Leigh-Ann Blaylock, Marina Gold, Tracey Olsen, Annjanette Foster, Fin Burton, Kiersa Stricklen, Christi Fricks, Ron Clark, Stacey Vaught, Tricia Skelton, Esther Concepcion, Andrea Hardgrave, Mike Capizzani, Amber Barbarow, Jeehan Dinwiddie, Cassandra Rogers, John Liquori, Valine Moreno, Shaaroni Wong  

Similar Posts

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *