I shared an article to my blog today from the Irish Independent online, which was titled ‘Student Teachers Spending Own Cash on Classes’.
So firstly this isn’t news, this has always been the case, and secondly it is unfortunately not only student teachers doing this, but qualified teachers too. If the comments under the article are anything to go by it looks like teachers in Ireland are spending an absolute fortune on school supplies. Even if you teach in the best resourced school in the country, I would wager that you still end up spending some of your own money on school supplies.
My school is really fair because if you hand in your receipt for whatever you purchased for school you will be reimbursed, and I am sure most schools do this as a matter of course. There are however always the items which you don’t strictly need for school but you need to enhance your lessons, like jelly for teaching about procedural writing, or items for a science experiment. These may not cost much at the time but imagine how much it would add up to over forty years of a teaching career?
During teaching practice and in my first two years out, I spent a fortune on teaching supplies. All you need to do is read over old posts to see this! I was always good at finding a bargain but it still all adds up. Getting a mortgage and planning a wedding has put a stop to that reckless spending however! I have cut back massively but I would still say not a week goes by without me buying something for school and I really need to stop this!
One way I have cut back is by having less of an emphasis on a prize box and more ‘time based’ rewards for students who win student of the week or table of the week. The prize box is still there but since introducing the time based rewards the majority of the children choose these instead of a prize. Time based rewards in my room include IPAD time, extra play time, sit with a friend, sit at teacher’s desk, use a pen instead of pencil and so on. I can choose more students of the week this way too!
I would really advise trying to cut down on your spending in the classroom. It has taken me a couple of years to realise this but it just isn’t always necessary. I think we will always need to spend some money if we want to have a classroom party, or a treat of hot chocolate for the class, or ingredients for baking or for a science lesson,and that is fine, but others things we can do without.
Do you really need that Twinkl subscription? If your school has an account that’s great but otherwise it is a hefty subscription when there is SO much free material available online. Buy yourself something nice instead or put it towards a holiday! As I mentioned there are so many ways of rewarding hard work which don’t involve a prize box full of toys too. I would also say do all your printing at school. Ink is so expensive, I never print school stuff at home. Story books are another big expense, sometimes you just need that certain book to tie in with your theme. It would be worth visiting your local library if you have time instead of buying it, or find a free online version and read it from the whiteboard!
Art supplies are another expense, if I had all the money I have spent in Dealz and Mr Price over the years on art supplies, I think it would actually pay for a small holiday. Instead of parting with your hard earned money, work around what the school has and use recyclable and found materials instead, they are often the most fun and creative lessons anyway. It doesn’t apply to me but I would imagine infant teachers spend a fortune on Aistear supplies too!
We really are probably the only profession who need to spend our own wages on work, so lets all try to minimise the costs as much as possible! I suggest you scribble down anything you spend on school between now and June as a matter of interest, I bet you will be surprised at the figure!