Spending Money on your Classroom

Discussion in 'General Education' started by Ms.Holyoke, Jun 3, 2018.

  1. Ms.Holyoke

    Ms.Holyoke Connoisseur

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    How much do you spend on classroom supplies every year?

    I personally find it unfair that so many teachers spend their own money on their classrooms. (I'm already annoyed that I have to pay to get fingerprinted!) I am a first year teacher next year and I am hoping that my district has a classroom budget but I am still not sure.

    I have watched teacher videos on YouTube and I was shocked at how much some teachers spent on their classrooms. I am personally happy to buy my own planner, sticky notes, pens, etc. since I like certain types/colors. But I definitely don't want to end up paying for my students' supplies, whiteboard markers, a stapler, hole puncher, tape, glue, etc. I'm working in a low income school so I'm not sure how many supplies my kids will bring. As a first year teacher, I know there are probably organizational things I will have to buy like trays for organizing my supplies, trays for organizing copies, turn in bins, etc. I also see decorating the classroom as an expense because I need bulletin board borders, posters, letters, etc. I would also like to laminate things that I put up, but I would likely have to buy a laminator! I know that middle school teachers don't have to buy as many things as elementary teachers but it's still overwhelming!

    It also seems like my school doesn't have a curriculum for teachers. As a new teacher, I don't want to be making my own resources every day. That's what I did for my student teaching and it wasn't sustainable. My mentor teacher suggested that I start with Engage NY, but in my student teaching I found that I really didn't like Engage NY. I'm worried that I'll end up having to spend $$ on teacherspayteachers and other curricular resources. I would be annoyed if I had to buy my own textbook but I really don't think I can make my own materials all year.

    I am lucky because my scholarship program gives us about $150 to spend so I might buy mini whiteboards or a math manipulatives for my students. (Or maybe I'll invest in a curriculum.) I am obviously not spending any of my money or my scholarship money until I see my classroom. I'm going to use some organizing supplies that I already have at home too. Does anyone have any tips for saving money as a first year teacher?
     
    Last edited: Jun 3, 2018
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  3. shoreline02

    shoreline02 Cohort

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    Low income school as well. We are given 0 stipend, no supplies except for textbooks. I have bought all my baskets, children's books, decorations, personal supplies, copy paper, chalk, whiteboard markers, pencils, erasers, glue, scissors, notebooks, etc. Students who come in without supplies, I provide them with what they need as well. We've been out of glue for ages so I bought 8 cheap bottles from Walmart and 4 of them have disappeared. We've also been out of pencils so I bought a huge box of them from Costco and put little tape flags on them so the students know they are mine. Within a few weeks all are gone, sigh. But when can you do, I've just accepted that this is how my school environment is. We're doing the best we can to provide our students with what they need. Not all schools are like this but our school just doesn't have the $$ to provide teachers with everything they need and neither do our parents.
     
  4. Ms.Holyoke

    Ms.Holyoke Connoisseur

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    Wow...you have to buy your own copy paper? :( I have never heard of that.
     
  5. Janlee70

    Janlee70 Rookie

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    As a retired teacher of 32years my advise would be to find out exactly what your school provides you before buying supplies. If you find you need to buy a lot I would definitely check out the following ways to outfit your room on a budget...library book sales, garage sales, rummage sales at churches (my church is currently setting up our 3 day sale and I can say you can find tons of things for a classroom that are cheap and many times brand new). There are organizations that provide filled backpacks for needy students at the beginning of school. Are these available to your students? If so this will save you money. Many teachers try to outdo each other in their decorating. This was never the case at my school. Student work became the “decorations” most of the time. Also ask friends and family for items they no longer need.
     
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  6. Ima Teacher

    Ima Teacher Maven

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    I've spent a lot of money over the years, but because I wanted to more than because I had to. Every year I turn in a supply list, and I've always gotten what I needed. (Usually $200 range.) I buy a few things on my own, just because I find what I need and grab it.
     
  7. MsAbeja

    MsAbeja Companion

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    DonorsChoose.org!
     
  8. teacherintexas

    teacherintexas Maven

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    Join Naeir. Google it. It’s much cheaper than buying at a store, but you have to plan well in advance as it takes a while to come in.
     
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  9. whizkid

    whizkid Groupie

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    Not even a low income, federal funds card?
     
  10. Teacher234

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    The Special Education department is given $10,000 for activities and field trips. This is for the special classes, resource rooms, and consultant teacher rooms.
    In addition, every classroom in the building is requested to do inventory at the end of the school year for school supplies and classroom items. We turn in a list of essential supplies, new curriculum materials, bonus supplies, and classroom other. The District Supplies (shipping and ordering) Department and Budget Department see what they can do to fully provide for each classroom.
    For some reason, every year......they give my classroom 100 pencil packs. I, literally, need 1 pack of pencil for the entire year.
    Currently, the district is looking into getting laptops for each student (not just a few computer carts) and 1 or 2 classroom computers.

    The Budget has changed a little.
     
  11. Been There

    Been There Habitué

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    As a former teacher and administrator, I know that there are always enough school funds despite what you are told. At least in the past, low-income and Title 1 schools always had plenty of money for supplies and equipment. The problem is that in many cases that money is purposely not always made readily available to teachers. New teachers seem all too quick to accept the unwritten "requirement" that they must commit a percentage of their paychecks for classroom supplies and equipment. So, many administrators have learned to simply hold back the funds long enough until teachers complete their shopping sprees. I have no idea what they do with all the money saved.

    If I were entering the workforce, I would meet with the principal and confess to not having the money to outfit my classroom. Then present your administrator with a basic list of the things you will need and request his/her help in acquiring them. This worked for me and may work for you too! As a contrarian, I refused to spend my own money on work-related stuff for many years - it's not impossible.
     
  12. rpan

    rpan Cohort

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    When you are a first year you tend to spend more initially to set yourself up but can reuse many things for subsequent years. Before you go to teacherspayteachers, try Pinterest. I buy the lowest quality and cheapest stationery if it’s for students on the basis that I’ll never get it back. If it’s for myself I buy the best quality I can afford because I think the quality helps it to last longer.
     
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  13. MissScrimmage

    MissScrimmage Aficionado

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    I work in a province that has curricular standards I must teach, but there is no packaged curriculum that I must use to teach the standards. I can do whatever I want to cover those standards. So, I make a lot of my own stuff. It's not impossible, but once it's made, it's made and it suits my needs to a tee. Occasionally I go onto Teachers Pay Teachers, but often the materials don't align with my standards.

    One thing that really reduced the pressure was accepting that we don't need a different activity or cute worksheet for every standard. Spend some time researching some tried and true strategies - Kagan comes to mind, and learn how to mix and match. It's amazing what a good read aloud, think-pair-share, discussion can cover. It doesn't always have to involve a lot of materials.
     
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  14. Ms.Holyoke

    Ms.Holyoke Connoisseur

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    Thanks everyone for the advice!! I'm feeling a lot better because I have been spending my morning organizing supplies I already have and I realized I have a TON! I was really into crafting a few years ago and I have a ton of supplies that have been sitting in my house unused like tons of colored cardstock, lots of new markers/colored pencils, painted vases I can use for decor, popsicle sticks, painters tape and washi tape I can use for my whiteboard, etc. I was thinking of printing some free posters on the cardstock and also printing a free number line on it for my classroom. Then I was looking through old school supplies that my sister and I had and I found about 15 binders in good condition. I also have tons of plastic page protector sheets. So I will not have to purchase binders for curriculum materials, a sub binder, etc. I also have several baskets and bins for storage and I have a desk set and a tray I can use to have kids turn in papers in my apartment. I was thinking of also asking my friends/my parents' friends if they have any supplies they are not using.
     
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  15. Ms.Holyoke

    Ms.Holyoke Connoisseur

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    This is so reassuring!! Thank you.
     
  16. YoungTeacherGuy

    YoungTeacherGuy Phenom

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    I must confess, I am a shopaholic. I absolutely loved beautifying my classroom. I spent such a huge amount of time there that I wanted it to be aesthetically pleasing--while also being as functional as possible for the kids, too. Nowadays, as an administrator, my office is outfitted with nice pieces. I'm here 12 hours a day many days, so I want to be comfortable and happy.

    Here at my Title I school, students show up with nothing in terms of supplies. We provide everything: paper, glue, pencils--you name it. We even have several companies and churches that provide backpacks for our kids. We provide the basics for our teachers, too: ink cartridges, reams of paper, all stationery supplies, etc. We don't, however, provide things such as bulletin board border or things to make the room pretty (other than a wide assortment of flame retardant butcher paper in various colors).

    Also, we like for every classroom within the grade-level to have the same things--that way, it's not the haves vs. the have nots. For example, if one classroom has a huge Lakeshore rug and a bunch of flexible seating, the other rooms will have the same thing. That is, unless the teacher has purchased extras with his/her own funds.
     
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  17. LittleShakespeare

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    Me too. I tend to spend a lot of money on my classroom, as well as supplies for the students. To be honest, on the first day of school, I always provide my students with goody bags. Inside, there are headphones, pencils, highlighters, red pens, and candy. I come from a high-needs school, and our budget is quite low, so I want to ensure the kids have everything they need.
     
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  18. a2z

    a2z Virtuoso

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    These are useless without dry erase markers, and when dealing with a population of students who have little money asking them to buy dry erase markers which are expensive is a bit much in my opinion especially since they dry out with the cap off, get lost, or get the tip squished by those who don't know how to use writing tools properly.

    Think carefully about your ideas in terms of funds and what you want to spend money on. Don't expect your students to be buying a lot of items.
     
  19. Been There

    Been There Habitué

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    Ms. Holyoke,
    Just thought of a fantastic idea for you to try tomorrow! Write up a list of everything you absolutely NEED, including the amount (number of items or boxes, etc.). Make copies and distribute them into teachers' mailboxes along with a friendly note asking if anyone can spare any of the listed supplies. If you like, you can tell them to exclude anything that was purchased with their own money!
     
  20. YoungTeacherGuy

    YoungTeacherGuy Phenom

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    Personally, this isn't the first impression I'd want to make.
     
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  21. Been There

    Been There Habitué

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    If you were hired to work at a dysfunctional school with incompetent administrators, where basic supplies and equipment were not readily available, you might not be overly concerned about making a good "first impression". A new teacher's primary concern is basic survival and fortunately veteran teachers are often more than happy to share their hoarded supplies with newbies.
     
  22. waterfall

    waterfall Virtuoso

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    Definitely wait and see what you have in the room and wait at least several weeks into the school year to figure out what you really need prior to purchasing anything. My first year, I was so excited to have a job right out of college (the job market was AWFUL at the time and that was very unexpected) that I ran out and bought things right away. Some of what I bought ended up already being in my classroom, my school did give me a small budget and basic supplies, and other stuff that I bought ended up being totally unnecessary. In my head I'd kind of based my supplies off of how my student teaching placement looked, and my first "real" job ended up being totally different and I didn't need the same materials.

    I gradually spent less and less every year and have been at the point where I haven't spent a dime of my own money over the past 5 years or so. Education funding is abysmal in my state and we've experienced many salary freezes, even though COL in my city has risen exponentially since I moved here. I refuse to spend what little money I have on doing my job. If my school doesn't provide it, I don't use it. For example, we're moving buildings and they quit buying office supplies halfway through the year because the secretary didn't want to have to pack them up/move them. I use dry erase markers constantly in my room, but when we ran out I simply switched to pencil and paper instead.

    I wish all teachers would have an attitude more like mine, honestly. There is no motivation for school/district admins to provide supplies when teachers willingly (in some cases, even happily) go out and buy their own. Nothing will change unless a significant number of teachers stop doing this.

    Just a tip, on some of our desks and tables you can write right on the desk with a dry erase marker and it will easily erase off, just like a white board. I've found it works really well with medium and dark colored desks/tables...NOT on the light colored ones because it doesn't come off all of the way. You can test it out first on whatever is in your room. If you have the right kind of tables/desks you can skip the mini white boards and the kids tend to think writing on the desk is "more fun."
     
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  23. Ms.Holyoke

    Ms.Holyoke Connoisseur

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    I agree that I don't want this to be my first impression!

    I also don't know much about my administration but they seemed great from the interview. Out of all of my interviews, I got the best feel from this school and the principal walked me out saying what a good job I did. Each classroom in this school has a Smartboard and a doc cam. So I do not think my school will provide nothing but I'm of course not sure.
     
    Last edited: Jun 5, 2018
  24. TeacherNY

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    I'm assuming that if the school doesn't provide the items then you're supposed to ask the students to bring them in? Of course, there's the excuse that the parents can't afford anything so by default the teacher has to buy the items. What a load of %)@#$&*@)&)
     
  25. Backroads

    Backroads Aficionado

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    I've never really ran into this problem, but I like to imagine myself (honestly or dishonestly as it may be) just rolling into teaching without such-n-such supplies and just shrugging my shoulders were my principal to demand where such-n-such was. Maybe a cute response such as "You never gave them to me."
     
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  26. Ms.Holyoke

    Ms.Holyoke Connoisseur

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    I completely agree! I don't know any other job where you are expected to purchase the things that you need. I've had a lot of free time on my hands and I've been addicted to watching teacher YouTube videos. But it seriously shocks me how much they're spending on their classrooms. Everything in their classrooms looks beautiful and is color coordinated but I imagine it costs over $1000. I definitely want to decorate my room but I'm going to use a lot of what I already have. I know I'll probably purchase some organizational stuff that I can keep with me from the Dollar Tree if my school doesn't have any but I don't want to spend over $50 and I want to spend $$ on things I can use throughout my career.
     
  27. mathmagic

    mathmagic Enthusiast

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    Ask yourself: what will the students remember? They'll remember your interactions with them. The engaging learning experiences.

    Also ask yourself: what's best for kids? Not having too much "noise" around the classroom: an organized classroom with specifically-planned out walls. I doubt a paper owl has driven more success in a classroom or cause a child to like a teacher more than another teacher who doesn't have that same paper owl in their classroom.
     
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  28. mathmagic

    mathmagic Enthusiast

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    Ask yourself: what will the students remember? They'll remember your interactions with them. The engaging learning experiences.

    Also ask yourself: what's best for kids? Not having too much "noise" around the classroom: an organized classroom with specifically-planned out walls. I doubt a paper owl has driven more success in a classroom or cause a child to like a teacher more than another teacher who doesn't have that same paper owl in their classroom.
     
  29. monkeyrun

    monkeyrun Rookie

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    I have learned less is more! One of my favorite things in my room is my wall of pictures. The kids love it, visitors love it. I'm just adding to it each year (and moving the pictures with me to each new classroom I move to :anguished:). I just print the pictures cheap from Walgreens. There are so many activities you can do with so little, as well!
     
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  30. scholarteacher

    scholarteacher Connoisseur

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    We buy our own copy paper, stuff for learning centers, most student supplies, classroom decor, almost everything except the curriculum. I spend about $3000 a year on my classroom.
     
  31. Janlee70

    Janlee70 Rookie

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    In my 32 years of teaching I didn’t even come close to spending this amount of money nor would I. I taught in a small district in Orange County, NY where the school district felt if it was needed for the students you got it. Plus there was a supply closet if you ran out of something. My union played a big part in helping secure this, too. My money was spent on making small gifts at holidays for family members and goodie bags at the beginning and end of school. Even though it was a middle class district the majority of parents had their children come to school with the necessary supplies.
     
  32. Backroads

    Backroads Aficionado

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    So, is this like a contracted thing? You walk into the job knowing you are expected to pay all that?
     
  33. Ms.Holyoke

    Ms.Holyoke Connoisseur

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    I'm seriously shocked that some teachers have to purchase their own copy paper.
     
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  34. miss-m

    miss-m Devotee

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    We don't have to buy our own, but our supply is somewhat limited in my district. When I student taught, reams of paper were actually on the STUDENT'S supply lists, in a high-poverty district! That rubbed me the wrong way.
    My current school (same district), we get a case of paper each semester. For teachers like me who minimize printing or print multiple pages per sheet, that's fine. For a lot of my coworkers though, they're out in a couple months.
     
  35. bella84

    bella84 Aficionado

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    I worked at a charter school where we were given one ream of paper for month. It was kept under lock and key. The assistant principal had to accompany you into the storage room for fear that you might take more than one ream. I often bought my own paper when I worked there.

    Now I work in a district that freely allows us to use as much paper as we need, and I use a whole lot less.
     
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  36. YoungTeacherGuy

    YoungTeacherGuy Phenom

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    Our teachers get one case/semester.

    However, our district has a Print Shop. Teachers have the option of sending large orders to the Print Shop. Takes a few days for the item to be delivered back to the site once it's ordered, but it's great for bulk printing (decodable readers, fluency packets, posters/banners, etc.).
     
  37. Backroads

    Backroads Aficionado

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    I have no problem with copy limits, or perhaps a budget that you can use to buy copy paper or trained seals as you see fit. Or the Print Shop thing. As long as the school has a procedure of reasonably providing what you might need.

    Either way, it's terribly unprofessional to have teachers pay out of pocket for necessary school supplies.
     
  38. whizkid

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    It's pretty much the standard here, even with a supplemental federal spending card.
     
  39. whizkid

    whizkid Groupie

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    I can't think of too many more occupations where one literally has to spend their own money to be able to operate on the job!
     
  40. Been There

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    Over many decades, our collective willingness to shell out our own money for supplies and equipment has made it the norm. We have ourselves to blame for this unusual expectation in the teaching profession. Even when ample school funds are available, not all administrators are as supportive as Janlee's.
     
  41. Ms.Holyoke

    Ms.Holyoke Connoisseur

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    I am really hoping that my district does not have paper limits/copying limits. My student teaching district had teachers enter a code when they had to copy but there were no limits. I think this is the best way to do it because admin can reach out to teachers who are copying too much. I feel like the amount that you copy often depends on the subject you teach. For math, we did not have any textbooks or a curriculum. So we had to copy a Do Now, a Reference, a Classwork, and an Exit Ticket for students every single day. This was a lot of paper, which I didn't like, but I also didn't see any way around it.
     

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