TeacherLists Blog

What Teachers Want You to Know About Back-to-School

Teachers have a difficult job, and one that doesn’t go without personal sacrifice along the way. Back-to-school is right around the corner and is just as stressful for teachers as it is for families.  While you’re back-to-school shopping with your children this year, keep these points in the back of your mind–you may just make a teacher’s entire year for helping the season go smoothly! 


What are teachers working with? 

Many people know by now that educators often pay for classroom supplies out of their own pockets. Since parents and caregivers buy supplies for their own kids, many feel that they have a general idea of how much teachers spend. However, it’s way more than you think, and even tax deductions are little help. In fact, in 2002, teachers were given a $250 tax deduction on out-of-pocket supply expenses. 20 years later, in 2022, that deduction was raised to just $300, clearly not keeping up with inflation or wage discrepancies over the decades. Meanwhile, in 2022, the average teacher spent $820.14 of their own cash on school supplies for the classroom. Many educators feel as though the $300 deduction does not come close to the support they truly need.  


So, what do teachers want you to know this year? 

We conducted our annual teacher survey in March 2023 and received over 2,400 responses. This is what teachers want you to keep in mind while back-to-school shopping this year. 


  • 46% of teachers create their own supply lists, and 33% create them in collaboration with the other teachers in their grade. This means that the items on your child’s back-to-school supply list are purposeful and tailored to the needs of what they’ll be doing this school year. 
  • 45% of teachers said families “usually” buy a brand that is specified on their child’s list, while 39% said it’s only “sometimes”. Only 4% reported that families “always” the requested brands. 
  • When teachers request specific brands, 78% said it’s because of the high quality, and 65% chose the brand based on price. 
  • Teachers spend their own money on a wide variety of products, including bulletin board materials, basic supplies such as pens and pencils (both for teacher and student use), and even books. 
  • 59% of teachers make continual purchases for classroom supplies all year long. 31% buy their supplies during the back-to-school season. 
  • 39% of teachers distribute supply donation request lists, and 35% of teacher said it’s likely those requests will be fulfilled, while another 24% said it’s unlikely they’ll be fulfilled. Another 27% said it’s neither likely nor unlikely.  


And finally, 


Teachers deeply, deeply appreciate classroom donations, though they are never expected, and all donations are appreciated no matter how small. 

Originally posted 2023

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