After shepherding students of all ages through hybrid learning while enduring a global pandemic, it’s safe to say that teachers are superheroes (although you already knew that). What you may not realize, however, is that teachers often end up spending their own money on classroom supplies and other necessities that set up students to thrive.
So if you’re back to school shopping for your own kids or looking to donate some supplies to local schools in your area, you might want to know what to stock up on. We asked HuffPost readers who are also teachers about the things they use the most through the school year.
When thinking about bulk back-to-school supplies, Jacqueline Theriault, a high school science teacher Las Vegas, encourages you to think outside the pencil box. While teachers surely use a lot of classics school supplies like writing implements and glue sticks, they also need things like snacks, cleaning products and even personal hygiene supplies on hand to make their kids feel safe.
“I suggest we allow ourselves to redefine what qualifies as a ‘needed classroom supply’ that teachers could use some help with supplementing,” Theriault commented. “Making sure my kids are able to eat something while at school goes a long way towards being able to build a bond that cements my relationships with them, and helps fortify their trust in me to teach them.”
Science teacher Paula Munoz Guzman explained that having a classroom stocked with things like food and cleaning wipes makes students feel safe and cared for.
“I want them to come to my class and not worry,” Guzman said. “We want our students to feel valued and important.”
To help keep classrooms around the country stocked and ready, Theriault, Guzman and others listed out the things teachers use the most.
HuffPost may receive a share from purchases made via links on this page. Every item is independently selected by the HuffPost Shopping team. Prices and availability are subject to change.
Chromebook chargers and power strips
With the general increase in technology in schools, more and more kids use school-sanctioned Chromebooks
during the day. Theriault said donating Chromebook chargers is a great addition for a modern classroom.
"Kids lose/forget to bring their chargers, so having extra to lend/replace would be a great help as well," she said.
In addition to chargers, teacher Michelle Williams Bordonaro suggested donating power strips, so students can charge their Chromebooks at their desks without needing to move near outlets.
Index or flash cards
Over a dozen teachers said they always need both white index cards and colored flashcards for their rooms. "I always run out of index cards," teacher Mary Antelo said.
Electric pencil sharpeners, durable scissors and staplers
"During the last school year, my students managed to lose my stapler, break my pencil sharpener, and lose a pair of my goo ... scissors," commented teacher Mary Antelo. "All of these items went back on my classroom wishlist."
Items that get a lot of use like durable electric pencil sharpeners (ideally ones that can sharper colored pencils as well), good teacher scissors (not the small child-safe variety) and staplers will set up any classroom for success.
"Menstrual products of different varieties" were on teacher Nicole Johnson's list.
Tissues were another item that dozens of educators asked for. "I can never have enough tissues," teacher Chelsey Swats-Craft said.
Individually wrapped snacks
As Theriault explained, classroom supplies mean more than pencils and paper (though those are very important too).
"I found myself spending over a thousand dollars buying large boxes of snacks like Rice Krispy Treats," she says. "Many high schoolers skip breakfast and are hungry and therefore unfocused in class waiting for their lunch wave."
Kirsten Hermreck, a 7th-grade teacher at a public school in the Midwest, agreed, sayings she always needs snacks for her students.
"They forgot breakfast, or are hungry because lunch is so late, or just hungry because they’re growing," Hermreck said.
"I spent my own money last year on glue sticks on top of what I got from my classroom supply budget. And then other teachers needed to borrow some as well," said middle school teacher Brittany Ketter.
Clorox wipes were a highly recommended item among teachers, and are easy to buy in bulk. Staples sells them in bulk as five packs of three canisters for a total of 15.
Another popular request from elementary and middle school teachers: construction paper.
"We are always creating," Katie Wynne, a fifth-grade teacher (who also happens to be my mom) said. "Kids draw things about current units and we make cards for holidays and birthdays using construction paper."
Black Expo markers
When it comes to whiteboard markers, color and brand name matter. Dozens of teachers specified wanting black Expo markets, to help with classroom learning.
"Without a doubt I always need Expo markers! They’re so important for so much and they die so fast!" teacher Lydia Haydeé said. Amazon carries a box of 36.
Pre-sharpened #2 Ticonderoga pencils
Similarly, dozens of teachers expressed that not all pencils are made the same. By and large, everyone agreed that #2 Ticonderoga pencils are superior, with pre-sharpened ones adding extra ease.
"This is my 36th year teaching, I always need Ticonderoga #2 pencils," Nancy Foote said.
Tokens of appreciation for support staff
And finally, many teachers spoke out about showing appreciation for support staff like bus drivers, custodians, lunch servers, aids, secretaries and other behind-the-scenes helpers.
"The support staff are some of the hardest workers in the educational system and are almost always overlooked," teacher Heather Pudenz said. "They get children to school safely, clean up after hundreds of children, and feed them nutritious meals, while trying to navigate rules and regulations."
Each of these $10 Amazon gift cards — sold in a set of 10 — comes individually packaged in a gift envelope.