If you’re looking to make an impact in the lives of students, check out these easy and impactful ways to “Clear the List” (#clearthelist) of teacher wish lists on Amazon. And, if you’re a teacher, you will also learn where to submit your list and how to get it cleared too!
Definition of “Clear the List”
What does clear the list mean?
Clear the list is a social based movement in America to support teachers by purchasing classroom supplies they need. Often, teachers are not provided with these supplies (many of which are very basic) by their schools and so, they purchase them out-of-pocket in order to effectively do their jobs and help our youngest generation learn.
That’s a basic overview, but also keep in mind that there are many additional complications. For example, teachers are often already overworked and underpaid and required to expend more time and money on basic needs. There are also inequities in what wealthy versus impoverished districts receive. And, then there are political complexities, like book banning, just to name a few.
Now that you know what it means to Clear the List, I want to briefly share the background behind why I’m supporting teacher wish lists (as well as why I am doing it by way of this blog post), and the ways I have supported this campaign and can recommend to you as well, whether you are a teacher or a donor.
Why It’s Important to Clear the List
It kind of goes without saying that teachers need supplies to teach and students need supplies to learn, but I also like to think of the impact of supplies even beyond that — things like providing a safe and comfortable space to students, as well as community-building tools that make them a part of something bigger than themselves, and even inspiration that drives their future paths, to name a few. I also see these supplies as having the potential to reduce crime.
Back when we were in the heart of the COVID-19 pandemic, my brother-in-law shared with me a picture of an empty bookshelf in his low-income school, where the library was also closed and there was no librarian. Shocked, I ran a campaign on Instagram to simply fill the bookshelf and was wildly blown away by the generosity of followers who donated 1,500 books in one week (so many that we shared with other Philadelphia area schools)!
What we learned from diving deep into this project, in which we eventually built a makeshift library in his classroom, was the impact it had on students, particularly during this very difficult time in the world. We were able to secure books that matched the students’ interests and diverse backgrounds and, at a time when it was especially difficult to get students to even show up, many of them were coming into school just because of the books.
They helped keep students busy and safe, gave them a meaningful escape, and got them excited to learn, among so many other benefits of reading. Just about every day, I would hear another real-life anecdote about “the books” and the difference they were making in real life, including things like students reading their first book or reading and re-reading entire series of books. We also had a lot of fun trying to select specific book recommendations for particular students.
To this date, a holiday doesn’t go by without dinner conversation about what’s going on with the books.
(Learn more about what we did at the “School Library” highlight on my Instagram page.)
So, I’ve always felt especially indebted to repay the generosity of my community and, despite not being a teacher myself, I also understand in my own way the importance of the Clear the List campaign.
If you’re here because you’re new to clearing teacher wish lists, I hope you now have some insight into how this makes a difference.
How to Clear the List
Now, let’s talk about how we can help.
A bit of background here too: This is something that’s always on my mind and something that I’m always trying to make some sort of effort to give back on in a meaningful way. Both the Clear the List campaign and supporting banned books have been on my 2023 goals list since late 2022 when I first created it, and I’ve made regular donations myself, but I also want to do more both as a digital community and as someone with an audience.
(By the way, on Amazon Prime Day, I donated over half my commissions to clearing lists, so if you are an influencer or support an influencer, you can consider this type of project as well.)
But, what I’ve learned through experience is how incredibly vast the need for help is and how overwhelming, chaotic, and disorganized things can become very fast. And when that happens, I fear that fewer teachers will be helped.
I think this can be hard to understand from the outside, and I often don’t even know what to do or say to make it better, or how to even manage the volume of requests for help.
Things also often function much differently on the internet than it seems. For example, while it may seem that asking for re-shares on Instagram stories will help, that often isn’t what works in reality, especially for my audience.
Then, if I don’t re-share a list for someone, I feel like a disappointment (and may be seen that way by the person requesting it as well), but if I do re-share it, it just ends up wasting all of our time, and then more and more people want re-shares, which ends up wasting even more time that I could be spending on tasks (like writing this article) that I know from my own unique content creating experience I CAN succeed with.
So, all that being said, I try to always brainstorm ways to do this that are more helpful and effective overall. And, as we head back to school this year, I have yet to come up with a really effective way to manage my own Clear the List campaign, but I DO know several others who have, and I also have a large blog-reading audience to share them with, so, here are my personal recommendations for how to Clear the List of teacher wish lists:
(Reminder: If you are a teacher, you can submit your teacher wish list or project to most or all of these resources as well!)
Donors Choose is a long-established organization where teachers simply post projects they seek to accomplish and donors can choose which ones to fund and how much to fund. The organization purchases the requested items with your donations, and they have fulfilled over 2 million projects to date.
Sarah Stair (@Mrs.Stair)
As I was brainstorming how to effectively help teachers this year, my virtual assistant shared Washington teacher Sarah Stair’s social media pages with me (Instagram | TikTok), and I thought she was doing such an amazing job that I decided to support her campaign rather than host my own campaign.
An absolute angel from heaven above, Mrs. Stair not only compiled 20,000 teacher wish lists onto an organized and color-coded spreadsheet and networks with brands and influencers, but she also advocates about tips teachers can follow to stand a better chance at getting their list cleared.
This really speaks to my heart, as someone who hears from authors on a daily basis seeking help marketing their books. My response over time necessarily became one of “teaching them to fish” which, at a certain point, is really the most effective way to help when there is so much need and I am only one person. In my own way, I totally understand not just what Mrs. Stair doing, but why, and I love that about her campaign. It makes sense on a deep level to me.
So, if you are a teacher, you can submit your Amazon wish list and follow Mrs. Stair’s excellent tips. And, if you are a donor, you can search her spreadsheet for lists to clear. You can also send her a Venmo donation. (She’s posting receipts.)
(I donated in my local area, as well as areas where books are being banned like Florida, and I generally purchased books because that’s my passion, but you can use whatever system you wish to decide who to support, including a random number generator!)
I also just want to note that, in following Mrs. Stair’s journey, and in knowing the behind-the-scenes process of both content creation and charitable campaigns like this, I can tell you, without a doubt, she’s pouring her heart, soul, and entire Summer vacation into this, so anything you can do to support her or just show gratitude for her work would be so lovely.
Katelyn Cole (@BookcaseBeauty)
Katelyn Cole‘s Instagram handle (@BookcaseBeauty) perfectly describes her. A former teacher and current children’s journal author and book influencer, she truly understands both the needs of teachers and the power of her platform.
During August 2023, she’s hosting a Clear the List campaign, and she’s giving out prizes to donors, as well as giving back half of her Amazon commissions to clearing lists all month long, in case you also want to try something she recommends.
I’ve personally spoken with her about this campaign a few times during her planning process, and I’m fully on board! I already contributed to it in a cool way that supports both her and her campaign: I purchased her book on Amazon for my twin nieces, Shared Diary Society for Friends: A Bold & Brave Question & Answer Book―Fill It In & Pass It On (Diary Society, 1) (this goes to the link in her bio so she gets the commission).
Ashley Spivey became popular on social media after her stint on The Bachelorette many years ago. She is known for her love of books and political advocacy.
Late every Summer, she devotes a given time period to her own Clear the List campaign, compiling teacher wish lists, sharing them, and working hard to get them all cleared.
The best way you can apply or donate is simply by following Ashley during the Summer months. She announces everything when it’s time, including how to apply. Please follow her rules!
She does a lot of advocacy in many areas, and she’s a new mom, so I want to make sure her time and boundaries are respected so she can most effectively accomplish her work.
I have personally donated to her campaign in the past and plan to do so again.
Things I Bought and Liked
Things I Bought and Liked is an anonymous influencer with a large social media following who does a massive Clear the List campaign on Giving Tuesday, after Thanksgiving. She’s known for her humorous (and very aggressive) pitches to brands to make large donations, but followers can pitch in too! (I did last year and plan to do so again this year.)
She sets up a database of lists to search, which, last year, supported all Title I and hurricane-affected schools.
The best way you can get involved is to follow her around Thanksgiving to see what her plans for this year are and what parameters she has in place. It’s both a fun and satisfying charitable experience, which you can take a look back on in her “Giving Tuesday” Instagram story highlights.
Sharon McMahon (@SharonSaysSo)
I’m new to following Sharon McMahon (@SharonSaysSo), but I’ll do my best to explain my understanding of what she does. She’s a former teacher who’s become known as “America’s Government Teacher” for using social media to debunk the spread of political misinformation.
What interested me about following her was that she’s been funding classroom grants for teachers (and she’s raised A LOT of money — nearly one million dollars from what I can see at the time of writing this). She’s also great at sharing the real-life grey areas, complexities, and challenges that teachers face, including basic human needs like food and health care, especially when they are getting push back on all fronts.
I’m going to stay tuned and update this as I learn more about her work.
Unfortunately, many, if not most, American teachers don’t have access to the basic supplies they need to effectively assist their students. As a result, Clear the List has become a popular campaign by which the general public and brands purchase items from teacher wish lists so that they can have a productive school year with their students.
As someone who’s been involved with these types of campaigns for a few years now, and as someone who has seen their real-life impact, I have supported and am currently supporting the campaigns of these people and organizations:
If there are more people or organizations you think I should consider adding to this post, please let me know in the comments.
(But, please don’t post your own teacher wish list, as my Spam filter will flag it as Spam, and from experience, I strongly and truly do believe from the most effective way to submit your teacher wish lists is through my recommendations above.)
Lastly, the best way to make the biggest difference is together, so share this post and these campaigns with teachers and donors who can all participate and grow the movement.