Advice for First-Year Teachers

We know that teachers spend a lot of money out of pocket on supplies for their students year-to-year, but for first-year teachers who start from scratch, the amount of supplies they need can be overwhelming. To support new educators, we assembled some practical advice from experienced teachers, including their suggestions for a first-year teacher supply list, which you can find below. 

To ensure you’re not spending too much on school supplies out of pocket, register with Donations you receive through giveaways, fundraising, or grants can be spent through our marketplace on the supplies you need to start the school year off right. 

Please note: is sharing these resource(s) with the intent to spread awareness and promote conversation among educators. Sharing a resource is not an endorsement of the resource for classroom use. Educators are the experts on their students’ needs and their school’s policies. Please always be mindful if a resource is a good fit for your classroom.

The stock and availability of the following items may fluctuate. cannot guarantee the availability of any of the items below. 

Officially Launched: Free Teacher Leader Resources’s Teacher Leaders include educators from across the country who share their expertise and teaching experience with the wider educational community. For first-year teachers, these lesson plans and suggestions can save you time and ignite your own creativity! 

You can now access these free resources by logging in to your account. You can also find a step-by-step video on how to access our Teacher Leader resources on our YouTube channel.

Resources from Teacher Leaders are provided by our Spotlight Funds, which support areas/school subjects of greater need. 

Practical Advice for First-Year Teachers

We asked our Teacher Advisory Board, a collection of PreK-12 education professionals, for their best practical advice for teachers just starting out. 

1. Keep Track of the Good Things

Before I began teaching, I was given this advice and I still often pass it along,” special education teacher Jenny S. shared. “Print out a blank monthly calendar, and at the end of every single day, write a short note in that day’s box about something good that happened. This practice allows me to remember the positive, even on my very hardest days, and at the end of the month/trimester/year, it becomes a really special way to reflect on how far you’ve come.”

2. Make Use of Online Games

Haskel B., a former middle school vocal teacher and education policy expert, was a BIG fan of using online games to review unit chapters with his students. Here are some of his suggestions: 

3. Stay Organized!

Annie A. is a retired early elementary teacher and U.C. Berkley professor. She recommends creating a checklist with every child’s first name. “These can be used for anything,” Annie shared, “including collecting homework, centers, work turned in, and field trip permission slips.”   

Annie also suggested creating a job chart with icons and library book pockets for early elementary students. This simple routine can make your life easier and your classroom cleaner. Cristina, former teacher and principal and current Program Manager, suggested using a similar chart for cell phone storage, calculator storage, or assigning collaborative work groups for older students. For the less crafty, hanging shoe storage will also work here. 

4. Learn How to Say No

“In my opinion, new teachers can be so eager and excited to be in the classroom and accepted by their peers and administration that they often take on more than they can handle,” said Felicia H., an elementary school teacher and Social Justice Coordinator. “For example, an admin may ask a new teacher to take on a stipend position or a coworker asks you to join a club etc. It is definitely okay to say no.” 

Here are Felicia’s professional ways to say no: 

  • “At the moment, I’m not taking on anymore tasks.”
  • “Thank you, but I have another commitment.”
  • “That sounds great, I’ll need to think about it.”
  • “Thank you for thinking of me, but I can’t at the moment.”
  •  “Unfortunately I can’t.”

5. Take Care of Yourself

Jenny S. suggested putting some health essentials for yourself in a little bag or box in your desk. These essentials can include travel pain relievers, bandages, digestive aids, and lip balm, but also some of your favorite candy or your favorite scent. As Jenny said, “Sometimes you just need a little pick me up, and if you can’t leave your classroom during prep or lunch, a small moment of self care could make a big difference.

First-Year Teachers Supply List

AKJ Education 

AKJ Education’s mission is to reduce the barriers—namely time and money—between you and the best quality supplemental materials for your classroom.

Featured: Everything and anything by Mo Willems! 

As a first-year teacher in elementary and middle school, you need to start collecting books for your classroom library. No one engages young students and helps grow their reading confidence like the silly, joyful stories of Knuffle Bunny, the Pigeon, and Elephant and Piggie. This recommendation comes from Teacher Advisory Board member Annie. 


Lakeshore creates award-winning educational products for schools and families to provide a high-quality education for every child.

Featured: Storage Bins

Storage supplies are essential to having the most organized classroom possible. Lakeshore offers a variety of storage solutions in vibrant colors. We’re highlighting these book bins, but Lakeshore’s paper trays are also a great way to keep your classroom organized. 

Featured: Storage Bins

Storage supplies are essential to having the most organized classroom possible. Lakeshore offers a variety of storage solutions in vibrant colors. We’re highlighting these book bins, but Lakeshore’s paper trays are also a great way to keep your classroom organized.


Staples offers everything your school needs including products for every area of your school – classrooms, restrooms, makerspaces, the main office, STEM/STEAM, and more.

Featured: 12-pack of White Board Markers

Teachers can never have enough Expo markers! These dry up and get lost, but they’re so important for the everyday functionality of your classroom. Load up on these early so that you don’t need to worry about running out. 

Featured: PaperMate Flair Pens

Many teachers love these felt tip markers for clear, colorful grading. They also come in a pack of twelve black markers, if you like the texture but want to keep it simple. Fun fact: PaperMate flash funded teachers for Teacher Appreciation Week 2023