I've found that folders, notebooks, and crayons/markers/colored pencils are most essential in my classroom.

The Folders
I usually buy them on sale from Staples in the beginning of the school year. I get at least 35 each of 4 different colors, with pockets, so that each one of my classes gets their own color. This keeps the folders for different classes from getting mixed up. Students put all of their graded work in their folders and these folders stay in my classroom. When parents or administrators come around I have something solid to show them. Also, when you have a substitute you can tell the students to put their assignments in their folders instead of giving them to the substitute. Seeing the accumulation of papers is a great visual for those students who haven't done as much as they should have. When it's time for grades to come out and you have a student who doesn't agree with the grade that you know they've earned, you can refer them back to their own folder to review the grades they've received.

The Notebooks
I tell the students on the first 2 days of school that they are required to have a notebook for my class. I then give them a week to get the notebooks. Every time I write notes or vocabulary words on the board they are responsible for copying them into their notebooks. Have your students set up their notebooks with a table of contents and a number on each page so that they can refer back to certain things. Again, by the end of the cycle or semester the notebook makes a great visual for students. Those who've been there on a regular basis have a lot of entries in their table of contents and those who haven't been there have very few entries. This notebook should never leave the classroom and should be stored inside the folder. I have surprise notebook checks every once and a while.

Crayons/Markers/Colored Pencils
Anything you do in English class can have an illustration component. Instead of having students summarize the plot in written form they can draw a storyboard. When doing poetry students can add a picture to their poems. These supplies become depleted quickly so it's best to buy them from the dollar store or to buy them from stores when they are having school supply sales. These drawings can liven up your classroom when you put them on the walls and people can automatically see what's going on in your classroom when they enter it.