The Typical Elementary Teacher's Classroom
Wednesday, August 05, 2015
Teachers are a wise and crafty bunch. We are continuously told that we need to have a wide variety of books and materials for the children to work with, and yet we are never provided with these materials. I cherish a walk through observation form written up by my then vice principal. Under the heading variety of materials she wrote "WOW!".
I go to yard sales, garage sales, dollar stores, thrift stores. I beg for materials from friends whose children have out grown things like blocks, Legos, and Mr. Potato Heads. There is a private school in my area that continuously collects gently used books, and then offers them to other teachers for free. But when push comes to shove, I spend my own money.
My brother and his family live in central VA. I love visiting with them, and try to do so at least once or twice a year. When I go around the 4th of July, it's primarily to see them, of course. Secondarily, it's so I can go to Wal-Mart, which is about 10 minutes down the road from their house, versus a 30-40 minute drive for me here in NJ. The first time I went, my SIL was with me, and she asked the question that most everyone asks a teacher:
"Doesn't the school/school board/school district give you this stuff??"
Simple answer is NO.
Now, those of you with children will know that yes, you can spend $1.00 and get crayons for a dollar at the Dollar store, but do they really last as long as Crayola? Do they color as nicely as Crayola crayons do? Nope. So when Wal-Mart has 24 count Crayola crayons on sale for 25 cents a box, I stock up on them! I buy 30 my first trip to start the school year out with, and every trip afterwards, I get more to give away at Christmas and at Easter. If we want children to produce quality work, we need to give them quality materials to work with.
One of my pet peeves is newsprint paper. I HATE it. I do not allow it in my classroom. I buy beautiful heavy duty, white, lined paper for my students to write on. I make my own writing journals out of Hammermill copy paper and card stock for the covers. I buy copy paper by the case.
We send home a letter to parents on the first day of school, asking parents to provide certain materials for their children to use: crayons, pencils, colored pencils, composition notebooks, 2 pocket folders, and Kleenex!! In all of my years of teaching (36), no school has EVER provided the classroom with Kleenex. I buy it in bulk from Costco.
And this is just the basic supplies.
I asked my SIL, "When the girls (my nieces) were in grade school and you went to Back to School Night and Report Card Conferences, did you notice the classrooms? Were they colorful and decorated? Were bulletin boards put up, and was there a nice reading center with maybe pillows or stuffed animals around?" She said, "Yes, of course!" I asked her, "Do you really think the school gives each teacher those things? Each teacher bought those things because, 1. They want their classroom to be as nice as possible for their students, and 2. Each teacher is judged by how their classroom looks, regardless of whether or not materials are given to them by the school.
Last year I was given a 12" x 12" x 12" box that had 1 box of staples, 1 box of paper clips, 1 roll of scotch tape, 1 roll of masking tape, 1 blue pen, 1 red pen, 1 box of broad tip dry erase markers, and a variety of other miscellaneous "office supplies". Each thing eventually came in handy, but was it what I needed? No.
I went to Lakeshore on Monday. Lakeshore is to Teachers as Toys R Us is to Kids. It's a teacher supply store. If you know a teacher, and there is a Lakeshore store near you, TRUST ME, get them a gift card for Back To School, Christmas, their birthday, or as an end of the year thank you. You'll make their day!!
I bought: glue sticks, chart tablets, hall passes, pencils, fine point dry erase markers, sticky wall fasteners (best thing to use to put up displays with!), bulletin board paper, bulletin board borders, bulletin board displays, calendars, lesson plan and record book, birthday display, new sight word display, birthday stickers, birthday awards, note cards, computer paper, and knowing me by now, everything had a theme. You'll never guess what it is! OWLS!! Hoot! So, I'm poorer now, but happy that my classroom will be clean, neat, and well decorated for my new group of First Graders.
Every teacher that I know does the same thing. It's what we do.