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9 Back-to-School Essentials

What’s on your list of back-to-school essentials? Whether you’re a seasoned teacher or starting a brand-new position, you may have a long to-do list as you get ready to begin the new school year. As the summer break winds down and the new school year approaches, it’s a chance to stock up on some of my favorite back-to-school essentials.

Today on the blog, I have a list of back-to-school essentials for your consideration. It includes a few of my favorites, items I use every day, and a few things I think you’ll enjoy. As I’ll mention again at the end of the post, let me know what jumps out for you and what I forgot. Reply to my weekly newsletter (sign up here for free) or send me a message on Instagram (find me here) to let me know what you love or what I missed!

Back-to-School Essentials

Let’s dive into a list of more than a dozen items to explore this back to school season!

Infographic detailing "9 Back to School Essentials" for teachers, including portable charger, ASCD quick reference guides, planners, and more. Visit for more information.

Portable Charger

I love a portable charger, and if you’ve seen me making my way through the halls of a conference, chances are one of these wires is popping out of my backpack. To make sure your devices stay powered throughout the day, a portable charger can keep your phone, tablet, or laptop functioning. This is similar to the one I use and love, but there are lots of options to choose from.

ASCD Quick Reference Guides

As much as I love books (here’s a list of summer favorites), quick reference guides are lighter both in weight and number of tips. I’ve had the chance to partner with ASCD and ISTE on a number of quick reference guides. They are just a few panels, laminated and hole-punched, and great for reviewing material quickly. Here are three of mine:

ASCD’s curriculum and instruction guides are a great resource for educators. Keep these practical references close by for a quick refresher on classroom management, instructional strategies, and assessment techniques. This page has even more quick reference guides from ASCD.

Digital or Paper Planner

Staying on top of a busy schedule is crucial throughout the year. Find a planning system that works for you, whether it’s a digital calendar app or a traditional paper planner. Many paper planners start with a school year schedule, and this is just one option you’ll find on Amazon.

If you are more of a digital planner, you might set up a system inside a familiar tool like Google Slides or use a note-taking tool like Evernote. I also have a free PDF version of planner pages you can use in a digital format or print out for a paper option.

Comfortable Shoes

It seems a little silly to talk about shoes on the blog, but comfortable shoes are a huge back-to-school essential. I love my Rothy’s, and whether visiting a school or chatting with educators at a conference, there always seems to be someone else who loves these shoes, too. They often have sales on their website, but my referral link will get you $20 off your first purchase.

Reusable Water Bottle

Do you have a reusable water bottle? If you don’t, this is the perfect time to pick one out for the school year. As much as I try to drink plenty of water throughout the day, I know that I’m much better suited for using a small water bottle that I fill up multiple times instead of a big one. This small Nalgene is my favorite.

If you already have a favorite water bottle, you might decide to refresh it for the school year with some stickers. There are oodles of places to go for great stickers, and here are just a few sticker packs for your consideration:

Healthy Snack Stash

I often joke about “purse snacks” because I know I need to have a few things in my bag as I move from place to place. Here are a few items you might add to your back-to-school essentials list that I love:

Mid-afternoon energy dips are real. So having some healthy snacks in your desk drawer, such as granola bars, cut-up fruits and vegetables, or one of my favorites listed above, can certainly come in handy.

Colorful Pens

Do you have a favorite type of pen? As a classroom teacher, a green flair pen was my “go-to.” At the very least, having a few favorite pens within easy reach can make you smile during the school year. And you might find that having a signature type of pen makes it easier for students to return it to you if one goes missing.

Thank You Notecards

It’s always nice to have some notecards handy, particularly ones for writing a quick thank you note. If you do a quick Amazon search, you’ll find that there are so many options to choose from. This one is a bit of a splurge, but I love the color combination. I also have a set of these, which are great, too.

AirTag and Holders

Having AirTags has been a game-changer for me. I use them both for finding items (sometimes on my desk) and having peace of mind when traveling. Although it’s a bit of an investment to outfit everything you own with an AirTag, having just one on your keychain or snapped to your bag may certainly be helpful. This is one of the AirTag holders I use. It is perfect for dropping into a different bag if I’m switching things up from one day to another.

What would you add to this list? Share your ideas with me on Instagram (follow along here) or reply to one of my weekly newsletters (sign up below). I can’t wait to hear about your own back-to-school essentials!

Find more posts featuring back-to-school tips and resources:

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Blog Author and EdTech Consultant Dr. Monica Burns

Monica Burns

Dr. Monica Burns is a former classroom teacher, Author, Speaker, and Curriculum & EdTech Consultant. Visit her site for more ideas on how to become a tech-savvy teacher.

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