The Scary Truth About School Supplies That Every Teacher Understands

This is your Kleenex.

paired image of binder clip and paper cutter

Anyone who has been a teacher for more than five minutes knows that between limited funding, salaries, and time, we often have to get creative with our supplies. The scary truth about school supplies is that they often take on very different roles than intended.

Here’s what I mean.

These are hair clips.

Photo of binder clips

You will forget they’re in your hair and run approximately 19 errands in public places after school.

Binder clips on Amazon

These are hair holders.

A photo of rubber bands to represent teacher hair holders

And weirdly you have none of them anymore. No one has any of them. And if you do find one, it’ll rip half your hair out.


Rubber bands on Amazon

This is what you use for a Band-Aid now.

Photo of tape dispenser

At least until you can locate a real Band-Aid, which you can’t, because they disappear in minutes. Bonus: This is also your maraca! (If you know, you know.)

Tape dispenser on Amazon

These are precious gemstones.

Photo of Le Pen set

Had to take out a second mortgage, but it was worth it. They’ve replaced Flairs for me. I said what I said.

Le Pen set on Amazon

These depreciate the second they leave the lot.

A set of Crayola markers

Three years from now it’ll hold exactly seven markers (three of which have caps) as well as assorted pieces of trash and a dead roach.

Bulk marker set on Amazon

This is your healthcare.

Photo of hand sanitizer

Step 1: Pump. Step 2: Cross your fingers.

Hand sanitizer on Amazon

This is your self-care.

Photo of giant paper clips


Giant paper clips on Amazon

These are your tissues.

Photo of brown school paper towels

You will also want to invest in healing nose salve.

Paper towels on Amazon

This is your entertainment.

Photo of label maker

Labeling children’s foreheads = peak entertainment.

Label maker on Amazon

This is also your entertainment.

Photo of paper cutter

It only works if you do the sound effect with it. SHWOING.

Paper cutter on Amazon

This is your dirty little secret.

Photo of rubber cement

“Sorry, Lucy, Elmer’s glue is all I have. What’s the stuff in the brown bottle you saw me using for a project once? I don’t know what you’re talking about.”

Rubber cement on Amazon

This is your maintenance crew.

Photo of duct tape

Air duct fell off your ceiling? Don’t worry.

Duct tape on Amazon

These are your personal assistants.

Photo of Post-It notes

Cheaper than an actual personal assistant, but chances are you paid for them yourself, so …

Post-it Notes on Amazon

This is the enemy.

Photo of king size sharpie

At least in the hands of a kindergartner. And in the hands of a teenager for that matter. And in the hands of a well-meaning substitute who thinks this is a dry-erase marker.

King-size Sharpie on Amazon

This is forgiveness.

Photo of Wite-Out

I just realized that I pretty much never let students have forgiveness.

Wite-Out on Amazon

This is your sports car.

Photo of rolling cart

Don’t go too wild, now.

Rolling cart on Amazon

This is your hot but bonkers friend you still keep at arm’s length.

You’re a little nervous to introduce her to just anyone, but she sure makes a great Instagram post.

Swingline stapler on Amazon

This is your weird ride-or-die pal.

Photo of otter tape dispenser

OK, so she has a chipped ear and is a little quirky, but you love her more than anything. Also, anyone who messes with her is in for a reckoning.

Otter tape dispenser on Amazon

What are your favorite alternate-use school supplies? Let us know in the comments!

Plus, for more articles like this, be sure to subscribe to our newsletters.

Every teacher understands this scary truth about school supplies: The reality is, we rarely ever use things as they are intended.