Teachers spending their own money on classroom supplies is practically a given. Always been this way ever since I entered the field of education and for most every teacher I know, it’s the same for them as well.
From toner to dry erase makers, from paper to books, from cords for the gadgets to the gadgets themselves – and the dang batteries – teachers spend their own money on “stuff” for the classroom.
So here’s a tip: make a wish list of things you want your school or district to purchase for you.
And have it at the ready.
And chunk it into $100 dollar intervals, too. (More on that in a moment.)
For the uninitiated, here’s how a lot of people in schools who control budget money work.
- First, they tell everyone they have no money.
- Second, they repeat all school year long that they have no money.
- Third, they apologize profusely for not having any money.
- Fourth, they get salty with you as they re-explain that they have no money.
- Fifth, the end of the budget cycle comes and they realize if they do not drain all the money that they do have, they’ll get even less of it next year because the people that filled their coffers in the first place will figure, “If I gave you X last year and you didn’t spend all of it, then next year I am only going to give you Y.”
And people are loathe to get Y… so they very, very frequently, spend the rest of X in a hasty and almost thoughtless manner – because all they really need to do is entirely drain their budget and that’s when all sorts of rationalizations starts to fly through the purchasing system.
It’s how I once ended up with the most tremendous 3 hole punch in the history of 3 hole punches. I mean this thing didn’t just punch, it had a hydraulic lift to escort my paper along every inch of its perilous paper punctuating journey. Musta cost $65.
Now, did I need a $65 hole punch? Of course not. But the English Department Chair at the time realized she still had funds in the budget on the last Thursday of school and knew that if she had even a nickel left over, she wouldn’t get her full allotment of funds the following year.
And so she started shopping. In a panic. By Friday at noon the cash had to be GONE! I got a hole punch. Some other folks got hand-carved pointers from lost Inca civilizations. I think a coupla folks even ended up with adjustable weight paperweights so they could alter the measurement of the kilo keeping the student homework safely on their desk from gusting classroom winds.
Point is, have a wish list. Funds pop up. Out of nowhere. And when they do, you will be ready.
Besides, you can also show your wish list to others and squawk. I mean if you show your principal your wish list at the start of every new quarter, you probably won’t get squat your first year as a teacher. Or your second year. Maybe even your third. But by year five, you gotta assume someone is going to get sick and tired of you asking for the same darn thing 4 times a year every year and Poof! you’re gonna get a document camera.
Or a wireless modem.
Or a class subscription to Newsweek. Whatever.
Of course, you can also post your wish list on Donorschoose.org (If you are not familiar with Donors Choose, take a moment right now to go check it out. It’s a site that grant wishes.) I just got an email the other day from a teacher that scored two class sets of my books – Homeboyz and The Secret Story of Sonia Rodriguez purchased for her through Donors Choose. Her email was filled with a sense of her clicking her heels. Point is, it works!)
Have a $100 wish list.
Have a $250 wish list.
Have a $500 wish list.
Have a $1,000 wish list.
Be at the ready.
I always sensed that my 3 hole punch with the hydraulic lift was more than a 3 hole punch; it was a teachable metaphor.
And now it is. Have a wish list and start naggin’. By 2014 chances are pretty good you’re gonna get something. (Besides, by 2014 all students in the United States of America will be proficient under the NCLB mandate so you’ll deserve a bonus for all your hard work anyway! 🙂