I Just Got a Teaching Job- Now What Should I Buy?

Congratulations! You received your first teaching contract and your first instinct is to want to go out and buy everything you see in the teacher store and the Walmart back to school section. 

I was there! I couldn't wait to get into my new classroom and start putting my room together. 

However, I want you to put a pause button on that and wait. Don't go crazy purchasing items for your classroom until you know what you will receive from your school. 

I suggest getting in touch with your principal and asking if there is someone on your team or someone at your school that can fill you in on what materials will be given to you first. Then, you can start prioritizing what essential items you will need to put together for your classroom. 

You can use the following list to help guide your priorities. 

Office Supplies

My last school gave new teachers a stapler, a pair of scissors, some pens, highlighters, and a staple remover. Before you purchase office supplies, see if any office supplies will be provided. 

If not, I highly suggest getting a good pencil sharpener. I like the X-ACTO School Pro Classroom Electric Pencil Sharpener. I have purchased other pencil sharpeners and they would break within a few months. This one has lasted years! 

I also recommend purchasing a heavy duty stapler, such as the Staples One-Touch Desktop stapler. 

You will also want a pair of good scissors (I actually had a pair just for cutting sticky velcro and tape and another for everything else). 

Be sure to grab a notebook or two to keep notes in during staff meetings and some of your favorite pens to write with as well!

Classroom Decor

I suggest keeping your decor simple during your first year. 

Don't put a lot of money into your decor, because you may end up changing it next year! Get a feel for your teaching style, what you like, see some other classroom set-ups, and then you can change things up next year once you find what you really like. 

I always tell new teachers to pick a color theme. It will be easy to find organization tubs and borders for your bulletin boards around a certain color theme that you like. 

Don't worry about posters covering your walls either. Wait and see if you really need posters. I prefer to have sections on my walls to display student work, so I never bought a lot of posters. I found that my students didn't reference these as much as I hoped they would. 

Teacher Supplies

These items are a little more personable. Here are some items that you may want to purchase. These are also wonderful things to ask for as gifts for your birthday or graduation. 

Teacher Bag

There are many choices out there, such as backpacks, tote bags, or even rolling carts. You have many options to choose from! I personally like having a backpack because I found should bags were uncomfortable to carry. The Vera Bradley backpack is my ultimate favorite!


Some teachers prefer an online digital planner (www.planbook.com), but others prefer to hand-write plans in books such as Plum Paper, Erin Condren, or the Happy Planner. Our favorite is Plum Paper. If you'd like to hear more information about these planners, you can listen to THIS Podcast for more details.

Personal Items

I kept a tub in my cabinets with personal items such as quarters for when I needed an emergency trip to the vending machine. I also kept a bottle of Ibuprofen, deodorant, mints, feminine products, a brush, and some lotion in my "survival box". 

TpT Resources

I absolutely LOVE Teachers Pay Teachers. The resources that you will find on this site are far more engaging and practical than you will find in workbooks sold at teaching stores.

That being said, I wouldn't go crazy with resources on TpT until you talk with someone on your campus. Stick with finding fun activities to do during your first week of school. There are pages of resources available for fun back to school activities. 

If you get a chance to talk with your teammates, ask them where the holes in the curriculum are and if they recommend any resources from TpT to help with that. Ask if there is flexibility with your curriculum resource choices. 

It would be awesome to start putting together some resources to help you for your first year, but I wouldn't recommend this until you know where the weaknesses are in your curriculum. 

When you are ready to start collecting TpT resources, click HERE to shop in my our store. We have resources for grades 2-5.

Library Books  

I firmly believe that every classroom needs a library, even if you are departmentalized and only teach math! Having a classroom library shows students that reading is important to you and helps to encourage their own love for reading. 

Most schools do not provide their teachers with books for their own personal classroom libraries. 

I suggest finding books for your personal collection now. Go to Facebook and ask friends and family if they have any books that their children have outgrown that they wouldn't mind donating to you. Hit up garage sales and used bookstores to find books. Be sure to start a Scholastic account as well to find books for your library. 

Check with someone at your school to see if you are provided with any bookshelves. If not, you may want to search garage sales and Facebook groups for used bookshelves, or start looking for shelves at Walmart during their back to school sales. Ikea also has awesome bookshelves that are very sturdy. 

Other Possible Items to Consider:

I might sound like a broken record, but again, you will want to ask your principal what will be supplied to you. 

Hopefully you receive a budget for materials like art supplies. If not, you will need to start thinking about paints, watercolors, brushes, colored pencils, and construction paper. 

You will also want to check what math manipulatives will be given to you. Will you receive dice, clocks, kitchen timers, rulers, plastic money, fraction tiles, base-10 blocks, cuisenaire rods, centimeter cubes, or tangrams? Most schools will provide some math manipulatives, but now is a good time to ask about these items. 

Finally, consider personal student white boards and clip boards. Your school may have access to these in their supply closet. If not, you may want to start considering these as items you will want in your classroom. My first year teaching, I went to Home Depot and had marker boards cut for me to use. Another year, I used card stock that I placed inside sheet protectors. These options don't hold up as well, but they work in a pinch during your first year!

As a first year teacher, I know you are excited to get into your classroom and put everything together. Please do not go overboard with purchases yet! Talk with your principal or team lead first, see what will be provided to you, and go from there. 

Have a Not So Wimpy Day,