How Much Money Do Teachers REALLY Spend?

I remember my very first year teaching.  I didn't have a lot of money and I had inherited a classroom full of stuff.  However, it didn't have a rug, and I didn't have the money to buy one.  I somehow managed to convince the manager at the local Walmart to donate some money towards the rug.  I'm not sure if it came from the store or out of his own pocket.  I'm thinking he felt sorry for me. It was Memorial Day and there I was with my 3 year old and my 5 week old baby trying to gather a few things for my classroom.  His generosity helped to provide my 33 students a warm and soft place to sit. Without that carpet, we would have been sitting on the hard, cold tile.

Years later I still find that I am spending a lot of money.   Over the years I have had thousands of dollars either donated by myself, our local Education Foundation or Donor's Choose.  When I sat down to do my taxes this year, I looked at what I was buying, where I was shopping and what was it all for.  This is just a partial list of everything I have bought.

I depend on places like The Dollar Tree, The .99¢ Store, Walmart, Costco and Target for most of my supplies.  You might wonder why would someone need so many things.  I'm here to tell you why.

I teach kindergarten and lets face it, their fingers are EVERYWHERE!!!  Having hand soap and hand sanitizer is a must.  Kleenex is always needed, it helps keep their fingers our of their nose.  I could ask the custodian for a large industrial roll of toilet paper, but kleenex is just easier.  We are usually given 1 box a year but let's be real 1 box lasts about a week.  Paper towels are on my list- yes, we have the big rolls in the machines, but are the absorbent?  No, they are not.  Baby Wipes, we use them to clean our hands after art projects, to clean tables, to clean dry erase boards and sometimes to wipe faces.  Clorox Wipes are a necessity; tables get dirty on a daily basis.  We only have custodial services every other night.  Classroom tables need to be cleaned daily and during cold and flu season even more.

Lets look at some of the other things I buy, I choose to buy Teacher Resources.  We are working on Common Core with outdated text books.  If I can't find what I want, I make them.  For this I need Cardstock and Printer Ink.  I wrote several grants for iPads, but I needed Kindergarten friendly iPad cases and headphones.  I use batteries for various classroom items.  My stapler broke as did the pencil sharpener that I had, so I needed those.  I could walk to our office every time I needed to sharpen pencils or staple something, but let's be real, I don't have that kind of time.  I do a lot of work with white boards.  There just aren't enough whiteboard markers for every teacher to have a class set, so I needed to by my own.

Copy Paper is always an issue. We never seem to have enough.  I don't feel that I copy a ton of stuff, but I am big on making books for my kids to read.  This is why I buy copy paper.  I also want my kids to be proficient writers and want them to love writing, so I buy Journal Notebooks.  We have a ton of newsprint, but most teachers will tell you they hate newsprint.  This explains why our supply closet has shelves of it.  You can't erase it because it tears easily.

Looking at that list you might think, how can all that add up to over $1000.00.  Trust me it does, it adds up quickly.  It is easy to toss in a box of kleenex or a pack of lunch sacks into your cart and think, oh it's only a few dollars.  Well, those few dollars add up over time.

As a tax payer you might be thinking why aren't the schools buying what the teachers need.  Trust me, they buy us crayons, construction paper, staples, paper clips, pencils, erasers and glue.  These are the basics that we need, we can't function without the basics, but we have been known to do so on occasion.   There just isn't money to buy the extras like art supplies, storage containers or basic classroom items such as a carpet, pocket charts and calendars.

What about the PTA?  Our PTA does what they can, but we are a Title 1 school, We can't ask our families for money; they really don't have it to give.  I depend on our local Education Foundation and Donor's Choose for items like iPads, a learning carpet, cubbies, listening centers and literacy and math manipulatives.  Without donations, my classroom would be barren.  I'd have tables, chairs and the adopted curriculum.  I am very grateful for all the donations I have received over the years.  They truly help to make my classroom a wonderful learning environment.

Continuing Education:
There was a time when conferences were a yearly option.  Each teacher would have the opportunity to attend a big conference sometimes even two.  Now, If I want to learn I must pay for it myself.  For the past two years I have attended The I Teach Kindergarten Conference.  Did I have to go, No, but I wanted to learn from the professionals, meet other teachers and bring back new ideas to implement in my classroom.  Conferences aren't cheap and unfortunately to attend a good conference I must travel.
Some people might look about my classroom and think, well you do have extras, like decorations, fabric covers for tables and counters and bulletin boards, matching stools and tables in the library.  Yes, I choose to buy the fluff stuff too.  I spend a lot of time in my classroom and I want it to look nice.  I want my students to want to spend time at school too.  My classroom is my home away from home.

Speaking off home, how many of you take things from home because you need it in your classroom?  Yep, that's me. I've been known to take cleaning supplies, an old computer and a few bookcases.

I am officially on Spring break and just sent out volume 1 of my Time 4 Kindergarten Newsletter.  You can sign-up to receive it too.  The sign-up is at the top right of my page.  For those of you who have already joined, I hope you enjoyed your free emergent reader about butterflies.  Have a great week.

2 comments:

Karyn said...

Great post Tiffini! We really spend so much money on our classrooms and our own professional development! Thanks for sharing this with others!

Thanks for always sharing your great ideas too!

Jennifer @ Simply Kinder said...

So true!!! We need to really keep ourselves in check so we don't go overboard!

Thanks for linking up to
Great Summer Blog Posts for Kindergarten Teachers!

Jennifer with Simply Kinder

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