Can you be a good teacher if you buy nothing?

Discussion in 'General Education' started by lovebeingteach, Aug 19, 2012.

  1. lovebeingteach

    lovebeingteach Companion

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    Earlier I posted about my lack of a raise and financial turmoil. My husband says I am not allowed to buy ANYTHING for my classroom this year. I think it's his way of bucking at the system. :thumb:

    My question is: Can one be a good teacher if he/she buys absolutely nothing for the classroom. Keep in mind we get one trip at the supply room per year, and there is VERY little to chose from.

    When I say nothing....I mean NOTHING! No pencils, paper, or art supplies for the kids who come without them. No little birthday certificates, no Halloween/Christmas/Easter bags full of trinkets. NOTHING!

    Every year I spend so much money I can't even keep track of it.

    What do you all think?
     
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  3. czacza

    czacza Multitudinous

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    Yes, you can...and evidently your school thinks you can since they give you nothing but a few supplies...more teachers in your district should do this...it's not your job to 'supply the basics'.
     
  4. iteachbx

    iteachbx Enthusiast

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    I would never say someone is a bad teacher because they didn't buy anything for their classroom- especially if it was for financial reasons.

    However I can't imagine not buying anything. I enjoy spending money on things for my classroom, rewards for my students, etc. etc. I don't even want to think about how much I spent last year. But I also live at home with parents, I'm making significantly more than some very experienced teachers on this board because of where I live, and I don't have children or a husband. That's not to say that someday down the road I might not be in a similar situation.

    I think that if that's what you need to do- then it can be done. It seems very easy to fund a project on Donors Choose that is for the basics- like pencils and paper because people are so upset when they see teachers are having to pay for these things out of their pocket. That would be my first stop. I don't get much in the way of school supplies/donations from parents, but there's nothing wrong with asking. Don't be shy on your supply list. I usually do a list with things that students need and then a separate list that says, "we could also really use some of the following things if you're able to donate them to our classroom it would be greatly appreciated." Also, ask for new supplies again after the new year when everything starts to run out/run low. It won't be easy- but I think it's possible. Going without treats might not be your first choice but it certainly won't make you a bad teacher! Maybe a local ice cream shop would be willing to donate gift certificates or at least coupons you could give out instead?
     
  5. Maryhf

    Maryhf Connoisseur

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    If you took the "special" things away from the children mid-year, then they'd miss it. Very good teachers don't need a lot of frills IMO. Just be a dedicated professional and it'll be a great year and you won't have guilt about spending what you don't have.
     
  6. lucybelle

    lucybelle Connoisseur

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    I spend very very little on my classroom. My school now will pay for everything, which is like a dream! My last school didn't pay for anything and the only things I really bought were a few boxes of pencils and snacks for the kids who stayed after school for tutoring. My classroom wasn't as pretty, but I was too broke to spend money!
     
  7. Ima Teacher

    Ima Teacher Maven

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    Sure you can!

    I woudn't have to spend a dime to be able to do my job. The way it is now the only things that I buy are for ME to make my life easier.
     
  8. TeacherNY

    TeacherNY Maven

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    I don't blame your husband. Mine would say the same thing if I mentioned buying things for my classroom (I do buy some dollar store items sporatically but only if I have an extra buck or two). Send a supply list home and hope for the best.
     
  9. Aliceacc

    Aliceacc Multitudinous

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    I'm not elementary, so it's a whole different ballgame for me.

    But for someone who is used to spending lots on her classroom, I imagine this will be a big change for you.

    I think that, in order for you to continue feeling like your old self, you're going to have to put in some time and additional effort.

    Iteachbx mentioned Donors Choose. A number of people here have had remarkable success with it. (Again, not speaking from experience here.)

    - To replace the goodies you normally have in a treasure chest, or those you give at Christmas time, put the word out to all your friends and relatives: at every possible juncture, you want them to order Happy Meals at fast food places, and give you the toys. Stockpile them. Also consider making certificates online as rewards-- a Get Out of Spelling Homework pass, a Line Leader for the Day pass-- whatever is appropriate. You might consider not assigning class jobs, so that those prized jobs can be used as rewards.

    The ultimate answer is that, 10 years from now, they will NOT remember the theme of your room, the goodies they got from the treasure chest, or anything else that involves you spending money. They'll remember YOU and what you taught them. You may not feel like your old self for a while, but what matters is what's going on in the classroom-- what you teach them and how you make them feel.

    The rest is all extra.
     
  10. lovebeingteach

    lovebeingteach Companion

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    Maybe I should've used the word "Effective."

    I mean, just think of all the stuff we have to buy for science experiments, hands on math activities, etc.

    I am having some serious issues with this concept.
     
  11. thirdgradebuzz

    thirdgradebuzz Comrade

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    I teach elementary and I have been buying less and less each year. Instructional funds cover the materials that I MUST have (science experiments, etc.). I used to do a treasure box, but now I have coupon rewards that the students can earn. These include small rewards, such as choosing their seat for the day, skipping a night of homework in one subject, earning a few minutes of free time/PAT, or even eating lunch in the classroom that Friday with me and a friend of their choice.

    I do stock up on stickers at the beginning of the year using some of the instructional supply money from the school. You'd be surprised how much students love stickers. I give them each a file folder to collect their stickers on like a sticker book. They're crazy about it.

    My school has a lot of at-risk students from poverty. They are grateful for whatever they get, but kind words, authentic praise, and genuine interest in their life seems to mean much more than rewards and prizes.
     
  12. giraffe326

    giraffe326 Virtuoso

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  13. agdamity

    agdamity Fanatic

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    You have to get creative. What types of math manipulatives do you already have? Unifix cubes aren't as "fun" as bringing in something, but they get the job done just the same. Science experiments can be hard--but if you know in advance what labs you want to do, you can ask parents to bring in things you need. I don't spend very much of my own money on lesson supplies--ie, things for science experiments and the such. According to my standards, 20% of my science instruction must be hands-on. I feel that if it's required, the school should supply the materials. If it's extra, I will supply it.
     
  14. YoungTeacherGuy

    YoungTeacherGuy Phenom

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    :yeahthat:YES! I teach in the same sort of school, so I know exactly what you mean!
     
  15. pwhatley

    pwhatley Maven

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    I truly believe that one can be a good teacher without spending lots of money in the classroom. Unfortunately, if I DIDN'T spend money on things like pencils, glue, crayons, tissues, etc., then my students wouldn't have them. And if a group of teachers refused to purchase supplies, I honestly believe that our district would simply let them go without and blame us for not having student work that required them. For instance, under Common Core (and our new teacher evaluation system, Compass), first graders are supposed to create and print documents on the computer, yet no one is going to supply the extra ink and paper that this will take, not to mention the printers for teachers who don't have one in the classroom.... I purchased the two printers in my classroom myself, and supply the ink and toner for them.
     
  16. Caesar753

    Caesar753 Multitudinous

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    :yeahthat:
     
  17. JustMe

    JustMe Virtuoso

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    WRONG! I don't remember much about Mrs. KTeacher, but I so remember those awesome bird-shaped plastic whistles you filled up with water she had in her treasure chest. Loved those soooo much! :haha:

    But, seriously, it would be VERY difficult for me to do my job effectively without spending a dime. I also think children are very used to the extra and would feel jipped without them, much less the basics.
     
  18. Tasha

    Tasha Phenom

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    For the treasure boxes/trinkets, last year I found some great printable cards that had fun no cost prizes - no shoes, wear a hat, bring a stuffed animal, etc... and I ran across some printable bracelets over the summer on pinterest. Plan things carefully and maybe parents can donate items for the extra projects you usually do.
     
  19. waterfall

    waterfall Virtuoso

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    I spend very little of my own money, but I have a school budget of 200 dollars and I don't count the $250 that I get back from taxes. If I didn't have that and wanted to spend NONE of my own money, I don't know how I could do it. I'm fine with no treasure box or extra projects (not allowed to do them per the curriculum anyway) but I don't know how I would teach without pencils, or a pencil sharpener for that matter.

    I will say on the "treasure box" point, this week my grade level wanted to assign the weekly homework on Wednesday. It's a huge packet that's normally meant to be assigned on Monday and due Friday, and keep in mind last week was our first week. I told the kids that if they wanted to do the entire packet and turn it on Friday morning, they could choose from the treasure box since they only had two days. If they wanted to just do what they could this week, that was fine too, but no treasure box. My colleagues warned me that kids pretty much just don't turn in hw. We're in an urban high poverty area, so obviously it goes back to them just having too much going on to always worry about hw. Every kid except for two brought the entire packet back in. One kid showed up before school to tell me he had to go to the dentist and would be late, but wanted to make sure his hw on time. Another kid was sick and literally showed up in the middle of the day just to turn the work in, and then went back home! So I would say it was definitely motivating!
     
  20. Caesar753

    Caesar753 Multitudinous

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    The thing is that stuff like pencils and pencil sharpeners should be supplied by the school or district. It shouldn't be the teacher's responsibility to pay for the bare necessities. I find it appalling that schools are requiring teachers to buy these things with their own money. I would refuse if my school told me to. I'd seek out support from parents and local businesses, as well as places like Donors Choose.

    If a teacher wants to go all out and by fancy "themed" stuff, that's totally fine. I know that I personally enjoy working in an environment that is "Caesary". I've spent my own money on things like a mini fridge, fancy purple pens for my own use, some colorful storage drawer things....I don't have to have those things in order to do my job, though. I have them because I can afford them and because they make my work environment feel nice. I think the same is true about bee themes or Hello Kitty--if you want to do it and have the money to do it, great, but you don't need those things to be an effective teacher.
     
  21. bdd

    bdd Rookie

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    Create donorschoose projects for the things you want to use in your class! Just my 2 cents.
     
  22. scmom

    scmom Enthusiast

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    I have a couple of things to say....

    Yes, of course you don't HAVE to spend money to be a good teacher but, hopefully, you are putting all your talent, experience and energy into the classroom.

    I justify the expenses to myself in that I am at work more than I am at home, and I want a creative, fun, pleasant enviroment to work in and for the kids to enjoy. I also want to provide experiences and music and objects and whatever they may not have the chance to experience in their own families.

    I am sure it is just the way you worded it, but I have an ïssue with a husband not "allowing" a wife to spend her hard-earned money any way she wants, but that might just be me. :unsure:
     
  23. blazer

    blazer Connoisseur

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    :dizzy: Surely this would be an ideal way for teachers to demonstrate their frustrations without anyone being able to complain. Stop propping up the system by supplementing the school budget! As for buying printers, ink and toner! I am staggered.
     
  24. pwhatley

    pwhatley Maven

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    As stated previously, students are required to create and print computer documents, even in first grade. And if our students were to suffer and/or do without, this district would consider it the failing of the teacher. Our district is rapidly being bankrupted, but that's another discussion. Our governor thinks public schools and teachers are all evil, but that's another discussion. In order for my students to have what they need, I need to supplement the meager supplies. So far this year, of 17 students, only 10 have brought supplies. Unfortunately, food stamps don't cover school supplies....
     
  25. JustMe

    JustMe Virtuoso

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    I think it's very understandable for my husband to draw a line. If I am spending so much money in the classroom that issues are surfacing at home, I feel he has every right to say, "Okay, enough." I also feel I could "call it" if he was getting out of control. Thankfully we're financially healthy and able to spend as we see fit, but I totally see how this could be a very real concern for some families.
     
  26. yellowdaisies

    yellowdaisies Fanatic

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    I absolutely couldn't have been an effective teacher THIS year without spending any money, but I am a first year teacher. I've spent a lot of money, and the largest percentage of it has been on books for my classroom library. I teach first grade. I could not teach the way I want to without a classroom library - that's just how it is.

    I know later on I will be able to spend far less money because I'll have a good classroom library, manipulatives and other reusable things I've bought this year. I don't think I could do it with NO money, though. My school does provide basic supplies, and I know that decorations and organizational items are for MY convenience and are not necessities, but things like books, manipulatives, items for literacy and math centers...a lot of that helps me more effectively teach my kids. Even DIY projects cost money, although definitely less than at the teacher store.

    Donors Choose has been mentioned on here, but there is no guarantee that the projects will be funded. I've also seen projects on there that have been up for 2 or 3 months and haven't had a dollar funded yet. Donors Choose is fantastic, but I don't think it's a fool proof way to get supplies.

    This topic is always a tricky one...
     
  27. GemStone

    GemStone Habitué

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    Parents know that every year they will be required to bring in supplies. I feel it's their responsibility to prepare for that. Maybe they can do without some of the luxuries many of them have.

    (Yes, I understand poverty. I grew up in it.)
     
  28. cutNglue

    cutNglue Magnifico

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    I didn't buy my classroom library. I used the local and school library to collect about 100 books and changed them out every month. Our reading specialist had some books. We are given the books for guided reading. I might have bought 5 books the entire year just because I wanted to teach using that book. I didn't have to do that. We are too prone for grade level changes for me to want to invest it in books. They are too pricey.
     
  29. Geauxtee

    Geauxtee Comrade

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    I taught in public school in Louisiana and can totally vouch for this. I went inherited a room without a printer and barely functioning laptop. And, I was at the store daily buying supplies for my class because if the students weren't doing creative, hands-on activities -- it was our fault. I had kids stapling papers by my desk once and they stole every single pen I had. I am glad you are able to make it work pwhately. I had to take the pay cut and move to private school.
     
  30. iteachbx

    iteachbx Enthusiast

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    Although I wouldn't want to foot the bill 100% out of my own pocket and understand the issues you guys were/are having. But boy do I wish someone was demanding that I do creative hands-on projects with my kids! I have sneak those in very quickly and quietly with the door closed and even then they are VERY few and far between.
     

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