Communal vs. Individual Supplies

Discussion in 'Debate & Marathon Threads Archive' started by Teacher Chele, Jun 19, 2010.

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  1. Teacher Chele

    Teacher Chele Habitué

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    How do you organize your kids supplies? I'm trying to decide whether to have communal supplies or keep everything individual. I've read articles about the germs passed around in the crayon bucket - YUCK! As a parent and a teacher I go back and forth with this. The parent in me says If I spend money to buy nice supplies, I want my child to have his own stuff. The teacher in me knows this may not always work. Advice or ideas, please!!!!
     
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  3. Lynnnn725

    Lynnnn725 Connoisseur

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    We use communal supplies. I did allow the kids to bring a small pencil box if they wished to keep their own pencil. Their box would go in the group table bucket. I had one parent concerned with passing germs by sharing pencils, so bringing a box is optional. I had no problems. We have tables.
     
  4. FarFromHome

    FarFromHome Connoisseur

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    I collected a few things-glue bottles, pencil top erasers, and pencils. However, I'm not sure if I would collect pencils again or if I might just need to change my procedures. They were in a bucket and the students could get a pencil when they needed one. They were gone really fast-within the first semester of school.

    I think parents are more likely to go out and buy more supplies when they know their child used up all of their own supplies, rather than other children using up the supplies. I never had students run out of pencils when they were kept in their own desk. I think they saw it more as their own responsibility to replace those pencils if they ran out.
     
  5. flowerpower31

    flowerpower31 Comrade

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    I was going to be using community pencils, but now after reading your concerns with it, I don't know if I should do that.

    When I taught first grade a few years ago, I did community pencils. We had two boxes at the front of the room...one that had sharpened pencils to use, and one that had pencils needing to be sharpened. It saved a whole lot of hassle with the kids saying in the middle of an assignment or something that their pencils broke or they need a new one or something. All they would have to do is go put the old pencil in the needs-to-be-sharpened box and grab a new one from the other.
     
  6. terptoteacher

    terptoteacher Connoisseur

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    Three years ago, everything was community supply...I had a tub in the center of the desks for all the supplies.
    I had the usual complaints from parents who purchased the "nicer" stuff. I had lots of bickering from the students about who got the better pencil, who got the cleanest eraser.

    This year and I think in the future, I'm only going to keep glue sticks and pencils as community supplies and everything else the kids can be responsible for.

    I hated it when you have one or two kids that destroy pencils or crayons or erasers but then never want to use them and then another child has to.
     
  7. swansong1

    swansong1 Virtuoso

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    After years of using communal supplies, most of which I have provided, I'm going with individual supplies this year. I think the students will be more aware of taking care of things if they are individually providing their own. I think they must eat everything!
     
  8. Lynnnn725

    Lynnnn725 Connoisseur

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    If you are doing individual supplies, do you have tables or desks? Where do they store the supplies?
     
  9. MissFroggy

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    I have communal supplies, but the school provides them. I have an art shelf where containers of color pencils, markers, glue sticks and so forth are supplied. Then, I keep containers of pencils on my desk. I either pass them out or put the containers on the floor and kids get them as needed and put them back as needed.

    I keep them on my desk and I can keep track of them pretty well. Also, they don't tend to disappear. Pencil sharpening is done by ONE helper, and only that helper. I told the kids this year they would get brand new pencils at winter break and they lasted all the way until then. I think next year I am going to "splurge" on cool pencils for fall, winter and spring with some design on them or something. Our school pencils are crap anyway and the tips break a lot.

    I used to have containers of pencils, erasers and a sharpener on each table but it was a mess. The kids lost their pencils a lot more often and they were always sharpening pencils or playing with the erasers.
     
  10. FarFromHome

    FarFromHome Connoisseur

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    I also had the pencil baskets and a helper for the week to sharpen pencils. We still ran out really quickly! It was just nice when they had their own that they wouldn't even ask me for more-they would just go out and buy them if they ran out.
     
  11. MissScrimmage

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    Do you have the choice to ask parents to purchase supplies vs. collect money for supplies? If the parents purchase the supplies for their child, then you should do individual supplies. If you collect money and purchase supplies in bulk, then you can do communal supplies. You cannot ask parents to purchase supplies and then dump everything in a bucket for all to use. I would be pretty ticked as a parent if this happened.
     
  12. teacherheath

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    I used to do communal supplies, because that's what my teammates did. A year or two ago, I switched to individual and like it so much more. A lot of our kids come from poverty, and they don't have much to call their "own". Also, there are kids who take great care of their stuff and others who break stuff and chew on their pencils/crayons. FWIW, I did have tables, and I had each kid store their stuff in a pencil box, which went in their cubbies when not in use. The kids kept their own crayons, markers, and I think a glue stick. The pencils were communal, only because I was the one sharpening. However,if they wanted to keep their pencils in their cubby, they could and I'd sharpen them as needed.
     
  13. Lynnnn725

    Lynnnn725 Connoisseur

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    Why not?
    We have specific descriptions of what to buy so nothing should be "fancier" or a better brand. It is all the same.
     
  14. Danny'sNanny

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    I have community pencils - a cup that needs to be sharpened and a cup of sharp ones. If someone has a "fancy" pencil, they need to sharpen it themselves (and on their choice time, not during "my" time).

    They have their own crayons,markers, erasers and scissors, but I also keep a shelf of extras. That way if someone needs something, they know where to get one without wasting time.

    I keep all the glue bottles and sticks on a shelf, but I bought those myself.
     
  15. Teacher Chele

    Teacher Chele Habitué

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    Thanks for all of the ideas and input. I have 2nd graders with desks. I am leaning more toward individual supplies. We have a high number of lower socio-economic families and I end up providing for them anyways.
     
  16. MissScrimmage

    MissScrimmage Aficionado

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    I specify brands as well, but it's NOT all the same. Some parents will choose to stray from the list. It is not up to parent A to provide supplies for children C, D and E. If I spend money on supplies, I want MY child to use them and be responsible. Then, when MY child uses up all the supplies / loses them, it is our responsibility to send more. I wouldn't want to be responsible for also replacing the pencils other children have wrecked/lost/used up. I think the only time communal supplies are fair are when the parents only pay a fee and then the teacher purchases the supplies for the classroom.
     
  17. Lynnnn725

    Lynnnn725 Connoisseur

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    I see where you are coming from.

    Our students order school supplies through our school PTA and they don't have to go out shopping for them so they all end up with the same things. Perhaps that is why it is easy for use to do communal.

    I have soooo many extra supplies, so parents are never providing for other children so to speak. I have plenty of pencils and the kids just grab one out of the cup. It's not like if you're the last one, you get the crummy pencil.

    All the crayons are mixed together and each table has a couple bowls of crayons.

    Scissors are in a bucket. Markers are in a bucket.

    Works well for us.

    As a parent, I don't mind communal. Once again - it's probably because I know all my son's classmates have provided the same kind/brand of supplies.

     
  18. Lynnnn725

    Lynnnn725 Connoisseur

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    If I had desks, we would likely be doing individual supplies.
     
    Last edited: Jun 19, 2010
  19. JaimeMarie

    JaimeMarie Moderator

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    I have only read the first post so sorry if I repeat what any one else has said.

    I have always had the communal supply bucket in the middle of the table until this year when the swine flu hit our school. I switched and gave everyone their own 36 pack of crayons, their own scissors, pencil and glue stick. Once the flu seems to have passed, I had communal colored pencils and markers.
     
  20. KinderCowgirl

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    I had parents worried about swine flu this year too and a couple of kids kept pencil boxes in their cubbies. But I would just spray the supply baskets with Lysol too when I did the tables and I've never had a inordinate amount of absences or anything-they use the same workstation materials every day, I'm sure those are filled with germs too.

    I think it depends on the age group as well. Do you know how long it takes for 22 five-year-olds to take out their pencil boxes (we have tables not desks) vs. me just putting the baskets on the tables? I have really great parents-they don't mind adding to the classroom community and sharing supplies if another family is struggling and can't afford everything on the list. I tell the kids from day one that everything in the classroom is shared-there is no "mine" and I've never had any problems. If they bring fancy pencils-it goes right back home again-we specify brands on our list as well. I think this helps breed a community spirit of sharing which I believe is part of the socialization skills we need to be teaching them.
     
  21. swansong1

    swansong1 Virtuoso

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    I guess I have to respectfully disagree with you. If my list specifies generic supplies so that everyone has the same supplies and parents choose to "stray from the list", that choice is on them. However, I think it might be advisable for the teacher to state that the supplies will be communal so parents can choose whether to stray or not.
     
  22. kimrandy1

    kimrandy1 Enthusiast

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    I have to tell you, there are some parents who really, really balk at community supplies. They feel like they are paying for someone else's kid to use stuff that they bought. I do community supplies, but I get complaints like that EVERY year. I think the management of it is just so much easier, though....I teach PreK and we don't have individual storage areas for the kids. If I had them keep their pencils/crayons/etc in their lockers and go to the locker each time they had to write their names, we'd be in the hallway for way too much of our day.

    I think it depends on what you have the kids bring. I buy the pencils (we only go through 2 doz or so primary pencils a year) and the school buys crayons, scissors, etc. The parents each bring a bottle of glue, a bottle of hand soap, 2 plain red or blue folders and a box of ziplock bags (they choose the size). Then, I have a bottom part of my form that says, "of the following, please bring the item that is checked" and I list paper towels, plastic spoons, paper plates, baby wipes, hand sanitizer, 4-pack of playdough, 10 pack of washable markers and dishwashing detergent. Each family is assigned 2 things from that list.

    So, as you can see, most of what I request is not for individual use, anyway (yet, I still get complaints!). But I do make sure I note on the supply list that all supplies are communal so that they know upfront.

    It never once crossed my mind about spreading germs via crayons, pencils and scissors, however, and now that has me thinking....
     
  23. JaimeMarie

    JaimeMarie Moderator

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    We aren't allowed to have lysol or any cleaning product in our room. It actually didn't take my kids long to get their things out. They would have their pencil boxes out before I finished heading out their handwriting books, or what ever we were doing.
     
  24. WaterfallLady

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    I have communal supplies but since I am an "extra" teacher and the kids leave their stuff in their homeroom its all stuff I've purchased.

    I occasionally spray it down with Lysol when there is something going around, but not with kids in the room. If there is something especially yucky, I try to avoid using the communal supplies.
     
  25. MissScrimmage

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    See, that would make a big difference. If the parent knows up front that supplies are communal, they will likely stick to the list. However, I can see some parents not providing supplies at ALL because they know others will.
     
  26. swansong1

    swansong1 Virtuoso

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    You're right. Many parents don't provide supplies if they know others will, but that happens regardless of whether the supplies are communal or not. These are the same parents that don't send in field trip money, don't pay book fines, etc. If the parents truly can't afford it, I'm happy to help them out. But don't tell me you can't supply things and then send your student to school with the latest in cell phones, clothing, shoes, etc. And then say you can't come to school for open house because you have a salon appointment.
     
  27. Teacher Chele

    Teacher Chele Habitué

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    I also have to disagree here, in my experience most parents are very willing to get the supplies for their child and don't mind helping to donate extras for those who don't have what they need. I think most parents are willing to help especially when we communicate what we need and how it will help their child. I could see a few parents complaining about communal supplies, but not many of them. The germ issue is what gets me that most.
     
  28. Teacher Chele

    Teacher Chele Habitué

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    Well said, Swan Song!!!! These types are usually on free lunch somehow, too.:eek:
     
  29. shouldbeasleep

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    This past year was the first year I made them all communal supplies. And yes, I had to struggle all year to get more supplies in. So the concern about parents being more careful with their own child's supplies being kept up is valid from my experience.

    This year, I'm going to make it optional. If they want to keep their own supplies, they can keep things in their own box and keep it in their bookbag. (We don't have desks--just tables.) If I notice that the kid is using communal supplies when they've always kept their own, I'll send a note home via e-mail.
     
  30. terptoteacher

    terptoteacher Connoisseur

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    We are no longer allowed to specifiy brand names for supplies. That's another reason that I am going to have individual supplies.
     
  31. Lynnnn725

    Lynnnn725 Connoisseur

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    I used community supplies. With the H1N1 and everything else going on this year, this is the first time I had a parent email me saying she is so pleased with the cleanliness and to keep doing whatever we are doing because her son isn't getting sick this year like he was in Kinder.
    I do wipe the tables every afternoon with clorox wipes. And then the janitors do their job (supposedly). We do a huge lesson on germs in the beginning of the year with a very graphic video and they love to get up and wash their hands anyway. Between germ gel and soap and water, I try to keep them clean.
    As far as community - part of our class promise (that any child of mine can recite and explain all parts) says "we share what we have." In the beginning of the year we look at each component of our class promise (including the sharing part) and list or make a web of all the things we share. It was never an issue.
    I also live in an area where the parents try to out-do each other. I'm sure one parent would buy all the kids supplies if I said we needed them.
     
  32. Jem

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    Communal all the way, here. As a kid, we had individual. Someone took my pair of scissors, and for some reason I didn't tell my mom. I got in trouble EVERY TIME in art for not having scissors. It's damaged me so much that as an adult, I hoard scissors. I have five pairs on my desk in front of me now.

    I want to make sure every child has access to every supply they could possibly need at any time. If they lost their pencil, they have access to 40 sharpened ones. If they can't find their blue marker, all they have to do is walk over to the basket and get another one. I've never had any trouble with kids destroying or stealing supplies-they've been super good about putting them back and taking care of them. Plus, they are there for me to use as well. I put them all in clear plastic shoeboxes with labels and stack them-scissors, markers, crayons, colored pencils, table, staplers, etc. I've also never had a single complaint from parents.
     
  33. teacherheath

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    I will say that I shop the sales in August and stock up on markers, crayons, pencils, glue, you name it. If there's any kid who doesn't have any part of their supplies, I give it to them. It's rare (a few kids usually), and the parents have been appreciative! Last year I supplied the pencil boxes, but this year we put them on the supply list--I will be sure to get some extras of those too.
     
  34. TeacherShelly

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    My room uses communal supplies, too. The school provides everything. I also have a fund in case I want something special. Last year, though, I sent a note home about the Bermuda Triangle for pink erasers, which located itself right in my classroom! I could not keep erasers, for some reason, and the lonely ones in the eraser tub were poked beyond recognition. Sad. The parents brought in erasers, the P came in and lectured everyone on respect, and the problem was more or less solved.
     
  35. MissScrimmage

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    I see the benefits of communal supplies, as long as the school is providing them. At my school this is not a practice that is encouraged, so I do invidual supplies. Also, I was the type of child that protected my supplies. I would have been devastated if I would have been told to dump all of my new supplies in a bucket on the first day and then have them belong to the class.

    I am more than willing to help students out with classroom supplies and stock up on the August sales to supplement for those who don't bring the supplies they need.
     
  36. UVAgrl928

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    I invested in a class supply of scissors last year out of my own pocket, and then bought the other supplies with my budget money. We have the highest poverty level in the county out of about 60 elementary schools. Most of our classrooms only get a handful of kids that bring in supplies (and even when they do, it's not the whole list... just a couple items here and there). I had a lot of problems with individual supplies. Kids were jealous of other kids, and were stealing from each other. I also refuse to let students use a pencil box, because when they are stealing from another student (or me), their pencil box was one place they were hiding these things. Last year I had one student that refused to do communal supplies, so he kept his own things in his desk.

    This year, my students loved it, and I didn't have anyone with individual supplies! Next year I am going to turn their desks around and not let them use their desks. I like communal supplies for organization too... there is normally at least one student at each table that helps some of the more unorganized students keep things organized. It is also easier for me to see what tables need supplies replenished, so that I am not interupted a million times a day about what supplies that they need. My next project for donorschoose.org is a class set of tables so that I can get rid of my desks!
     
  37. Missy99

    Missy99 Connoisseur

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    :lol: That should have been the least of her worries as to how kids spread germs :lol:
     
  38. msmullenjr

    msmullenjr Devotee

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    I am such a nerd that I could literally fill my own Christmas stocking with supplies from Staples (pens, pencils, markers, erasers, scissors, etc) and I would die if you made me share. DIE...

    Okay, exaggeration over. Seriously though I love my stuff and I always have. I know there are some kids the same way, so most of it is individual supplies. At the beginning of the year I buy each student a pencil box to keep all of their supplies in. I send out a note to parents asking them to bring in the needed supplies (pens, pencils, erasers) and the school supplies some stuff (highlighter, extra pencils, dry erase markers).

    If the students have their own scissors or glue stick great they can keep it in their box. Otherwise I have a small tub full of those items. In 6th grade, we don't use them that often so they don't need to be readily available all of the time.
     
    Last edited: Jun 20, 2010
  39. Pencil Monkey

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    I dislike community supplies. I have never had a good experience with it. I find that kids are more likely to abuse the supplies and not take good care of them if they do not have any "ownership." I also find that the same kids who come to school with expensive designer bags and shoes are the same ones that mysteriously do not bring paper, pencil, and so on. Plus, when I run out of something and need more it is harder to get parents to provide more because their logic is that they provided to the community in August. Why do they need to provide more now in January?

    I will never do community supplies again if I can help it. I do think taking up scissors and glue sticks is a good idea. I will also never ever buy those penny pencils at staples again. I still have a few hundred penny pencils and I am thinking they may find their way to the trash because that is what they are. :2cents:
     
  40. queenie

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    I teach second grade and I got those little pencil pouches that zip. In each pouch there is a glue stick, a box of crayons, and a pair of scissors. Kids who brought their own put them in their pouches. Kids who didn't bring anything had them provided. I numbered the pouches so everyone used their own pouches. I also kept extra supplies on hand in case a glue stick ran out, etc. I do have a giant crayon bucket, though, that anyone can use if they choose to. In our county, we aren't allowed to send home a list of supplies for parents to purchase, but if they send things in, I'll let them use their own items. If tissues or a whole pack of erasers/pencils are sent in, though- it's community property.
     
  41. Lynnnn725

    Lynnnn725 Connoisseur

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    Which ever you choose, I think you'll be fine as long as you explain your reasoning at parent night or "meet the teacher" or whatever.
     
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