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A Teacher's Back-to-School Supply List

By Howard Seeman, Ph.D

Each summer, teachers send home to parents a list of school supplies students will need during the upcoming school year. Until now, however, little thought has been given to the school supplies teachers might find useful. Noted educator Howard Seeman corrects that oversight with this back-to-school list for the well-equipped teacher. Included: Twenty-seven must-have items.

Veteran teachers will tell you that every year they realize there's another little thing they could carry with them, or keep in their desk, to help them with their teaching. By the time a good teacher has been teaching five years, he or she has learned to be well equipped.

Why wait years? Below is a list of items -- most of which you can easily carry in a pencil case -- that will be very helpful for your teaching this year.


  1. A piece of chalk -- in case the classroom you're assigned to has none.
  2. An eraser or small rag -- in case the classroom you're assigned to has none.
  3. A piece of colored chalk -- in case you want to underscore something.
  4. A few rubber bands -- in case you need to band some things together.
  5. A pad of sticky-notes -- in case you want to stick a note onto something.
  6. A mechanical lead pencil -- because they're always sharp, don't require a pencil sharpener, and are fine, clear, and erasable.
  7. Press-on white labels (either address label size or one-line width labels) -- so you can white out or label anything.
  8. More About Howard Seeman

    For more Education World articles by and about Howard Seeman, see:

    * Know When to Discipline

    * Preventing Classroom Discipline Problems: A Classroom Management Handbook

    * Latecomers: Tips for Handling the Disruption of Students Who Come Into Class Late

    * Cheating in the Classroom: How to Prevent It (and How to Handle It If It Happens)
    A black ink ballpoint pen -- for making carbon copies or for writing that's more reproducible by a copier than that produced by a blue ink pen.
  9. A package of 3 x 5 cards -- for class participation exercises, sort-able notes, hall passes
  10. A yellow highlighter pen -- to highlight points in your lesson plan that you inadvertently omitted, need to review.
  11. A red pen -- to write evaluative notes on students' tests, homework
  12. Loose-leaf reinforcements -- to keep pages from falling out of your binder.
  13. Wet-wash pad -- for quick cleanups.
  14. A single-edged razor blade (instead of bulky scissors) -- for cutting out magazine articles, pictures... They usually come with a protective cardboard over the blade.
  15. A small tin of aspirin -- in case of a headache.
  16. Some large and small paper clips -- to clip together homework or test papers from particular class periods.
  17. A piece of carbon paper -- in case you want to keep a copy of notes you write to parents or students.
  18. A see-through plastic pencil case -- to carry all the above items.
  19. An appointment book -- to keep track of weekly appointments, things to do
  20. A cell phone.
  21. A grade book -- for taking attendance, checking homework, giving credit for class participation
  22. A pad of newsprint (rolled up?) -- to make notes on; especially useful when you'll teach the same lesson more than once-- in different rooms.
  23. A magic marker or two -- to make notes with.
  24. A small stapler -- for securely posting items on a bulletin board or attaching papers.
  25. Cardboard -- to place over a door or window to cut down on hallway distractions.
  26. A small can of machine oil -- in case a squeaky seat or door distracts students.
  27. This list -- to check over a couple of days before school starts.

Click here for a printable version of the supply list. For more good teaching tips, hints for preventing classroom discipline problems, and help with classroom management in general, visit Preventing Classroom Discipline Problems and

About the Author

Howard Seeman, Ph.D. is Professor Emeritus of Education at City University of New York, Lehman College. He has taught classroom management, educational psychology, course-content methods, and has supervised teachers since 1970. His book, Preventing Classroom Discipline Problems; A Classroom Management Handbook, with its companion training video and CD, is used in more than 400 school districts. He also has published in professional journals more than 20 articles on education, has been the keynote speaker at many national education conferences, and has given more than 50 workshops throughout the United States on such topics as classroom management, prevention of disruptive behavior, and emotional education.

Prior to becoming a professor and consultant, Dr. Seeman was a camp director, co-directed a camp for emotionally disturbed children, worked in children's shelters, and taught in New York City public schools as a licensed substitute teacher, and was a full-time high school English and social studies teacher.

Prof. Seeman, who teaches a brief online course at, also is available for free consultation on education problems.