Great Gifts for Teachers


Teachers spend hundreds of dollars on school supplies


Why these are great gifts for teachers:


1. Boxes of tissue: Always needed for runny noses!

tissue2. Markers: Sharpie markers, washable markers, dry erase markers

3. Plastic bags with closures, all sizes: great for organizing activities and classroom items

ziplock 4. A heavy duty pencil sharpener: pick one that will most likely survive the school year

pencil sharpener

5. Strong grip magnets: to put items on classroom boards


6. Hooks: great for hanging things on block walls and can be taken off without damaging walls at the end of the school year


7. Coffee and/or tea: Coffee pods are great if there is a machine in the school, gift cards for coffee shops are even better


I realized the idea of writing this blog after my partner and I were discussing coffee – A key ingredient in my success as a teacher. At breakfast, I mentioned something about using a great deal of coffee in our house and my partner explained that I was the source of the consumption. He stated that he got FREE COFFEE at work.

After some more discussion, he started listing all the other things he was provided with to do his work AT NO COST. These included pens, pencils, markers, paper, colour printers, unlimited photocopying, and boxes of tissue.

My response was to start listing all the items I needed to purchase OUT OF MY OWN FUNDS for my classroom including pens, pencils, white board markers, Sharpie markers, washable markers, special paper, pencil crayons, art supplies, and boxes of tissue. I do not have access to colour printing nor do I have access to unlimited photo copying.

In my 19 years of teaching, I have paid for the following out of my own pocket: 8 brooms, 10 dust pans, numerous magnets, 6 classroom fans, and thousands of dollars of books that people have borrowed and never returned. And in my career as a teacher, my students have broken over 7 electric pencil sharpeners, mostly by trying to sharpen things that were not pencils.

Many teachers end up spending hundreds out of pocket to outfit their classrooms, but say it’s worth it to engage their students (CBC News, Aug 26, 2017).

Every year I spend over $1000 on needed resources and supplies for my classroom without reimbursement. I am not alone in my spending. In the United States, despite teachers’ low salary, teachers spend their own money on school needs. A study in the United States cited that 94% of public school teachers said they spent their own money on school supplies for the school year, without reimbursement. The teachers’ spending averaged about $479 in the 2014-15 school year.

Canadian teachers do not differ much from their American colleagues. CBC and many other sources have cited teachers spending thousands of dollars over their careers outfitting their classrooms and providing students with needed supplies (Carter, 2013: Hill & Velasco, 2017; Kaufhold,  Alverez, & Arnold, 2006).

In my own career, some years I have had to buy all the pencils for my students as the school’s pencil supply was nowhere to be found. When I taught middle school, I regularly picked up pencils, erasers, pencil crayons, markers, and pens off the floor of my classroom and hallways as my limited supplies were quickly depleted. I have even purchased student textbooks and workbooks as they were not provided by the school. Fortunately, this year I am at a school where I have enough supplies and I make sure I share them with any teacher in need.

Teachers work really hard to help students do their best work. Teachers also spend a great deal of their own money to make sure that students have their best experience at school.

Providing teachers with gifts they can use is always appreciated and a great way to show appreciation of teachers’ hard work.

Wishing you a lovely winter break,

Collaboratively Yours,

Dr. Deb Weston, PhD


CBC News. (Aug 26, 2017).  Pencils, crayons and tissues: teachers weigh in on the method behind school supply lists, CBC News, Downloaded from

Carter, A. (Sept 2, 2013). Teachers spending hundreds to outfit classrooms. CBC News, Downloaded from

Danilova, M. (May 15, 2018). Study: Despite modest income, nearly all teachers pay for class needs out of own pocket, The Associated Press,Downloaded from

Hill, A. & Velasco, P. (Aug 11, 2017). Teachers spend hundreds of dollars on back to school supplies, CBC Marketplace, Downloaded from

Kaufhold, J. A., Alverez, V. G., & Arnold, M. (2006). Lack of School Supplies, Materials and Resources as an Elementary Cause of Frustration and Burnout in South Texas Special Education Teachers. Journal of Instructional Psychology33(3).

Updated: December 16, 2018 — 7:30 pm

The Author

Deborah Weston

I love teaching and have been practicing for over 18 years in the Peel DSB. I have taught grades 2 through to grade 8, including split and contained Spec Ed classes. I am an advocate/ally for issues dealing with Workplace Health & Safety, Special Education, Mental Wellness, LGBTQT, and Aboriginal topics. I have qualifications in Special Education, Reading, Technology, Mathematics, and Integrated Curriculum. I hold a PhD in Education Policy & Leadership and Quantitative Analysis. I believe that when working collaboratively, teachers are better together. My opinions are my own, usually supported by peer-reviewed literature and law. Follow me on Twitter @dr_weston_PhD

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