Opinion
Education Opinion

School Supply Necessities: Making a List

By Starr Sackstein — August 24, 2015 3 min read

I always prepare my son for school first. His school’s PTA has a great service where you can order the supply list online and it comes delivered in a box two weeks before school starts. And the added benefit is that you’re supporting the PTA (which I wish I did more of during the year).

As a teacher and a mom, I’m a little embarrassed to admit that it’s hard to get to PTA meetings, especially because I have my own school night time functions to attend. But that’s a story for another post.

Getting ready for school is very exciting, especially the school supply shopping. This year, our Teacher’s choice money (the money NYC grants teachers for supplies) has increased and I’m trying to narrow down the necessities and not go overboard.

(I always go overboard.)

There is something about new supplies that just gets me all kinds of excited. Impulse buying new felt tip markers and green pens and the “just right” planner to ensure the best year ever.

So here’s what’s essential:


  • a good lesson planner - I tried moving to digital last year, but it I didn’t like it. I’m all about technology, but there is something about writing my lessons in pencil in the book, being able to see it all lined up a week a time and being able to adjust it easily as I go without needed wifi to do it. I loved the idea of doing my lesson plans on Google Calendar, but it just didn’t work out. Too many extra steps needed.
  • a good pack of “special pens” - these are the ones I don’t share with students. They stay in my draw because I’ll spend a little extra on colored in. They help me stay focused during PD at school and they make my notebook pretty. I’m all about creating a really well organized PD notebook with annotations. The pens help.
  • a stapler and a lot of staples - not sure why but every year I need a new one. They break or get lost or they get borrowed never to be returned. I like to have a pocket one to hang stuff on the walls and a big one for stapling student work. High School students always need to staple their work.
  • lamination services - There are quite a few posters I created last year worth saving. I need to get them laminated, so they can be “official” wall hangings this year. Maintaining a text rich room that invites visitors and helps display the amazing learning that is going on. Reminders are also good, like the poster on reflection. In our conference corner, I like to have portfolio and reflection posters as a reference for students.
  • index cards - you just never know when you’ll want to do an activity with students that requires them, so they’re good to have around. I like to have at least 500.
  • a large calendar for the wall or desk - haven’t decided which I’ll go with this year, but in addition to having the planner laid out by the day and week, I appreciate being able to see a whole month at a time too, not just what’s happening in classes, but everywhere else too. This helps with scheduling meetings with students and teachers as well as newspaper posting schedules. Holidays and other school functions are also visible for planning backward.
  • colorful non-stick tape - we don’t want to ruin the paint. I also love the new designs and patterns that are available. Definitely can spruce up a room.
  • new dry erase markers - in order to write daily learning targets and agendas, I like to have colorful markers to differentiate between my classes.
  • class set of highlighters and markers - it’s always good to have baskets full of highlighters and markers for varying assignments and use. I’m not particular to the brand (although I do enjoy the scented markers), but I go with what’s most cost effective.

In addition to the essentials, this year I’m considering bean bag chairs. I’d like to make the learning environment more hospitable to students and not all kids like to work at tables. Personally, I have always liked to sit on the floor. Thought it might be nice to make the conference/reading corner a little more cozy. Not enough high school environments do that.

Although I ran scared from Staples today because the lines were ridiculously long, I plan to do a little pre-shopping, online pricing and may skip the stores altogether this year.

As teachers, we always need to think ahead. I don’t know who my students are this year, but I do have a good idea of what needs replenishing from last year.

Where’s your favorite place to shop for school supplies? Know of any great deals? I’m all ears! Please share

The opinions expressed in Work in Progress are strictly those of the author(s) and do not reflect the opinions or endorsement of Editorial Projects in Education, or any of its publications.

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