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How I Found Classroom Resources Without Dipping Into My Bank Account

opinion

Furnishing a classroom with supplies and resources is often a tedious and expensive task for teachers, but it doesn't have to be. Keep reading to learn how I am able to supply my classroom without ever touching my personal bank account.

Classroom Resources are Expensive!

Teachers definitely have their work cut out for them; between instructing a large group of students to grading papers to managing problems, their job can sometimes be a tough one. When you factor in the task of providing classroom resources, that tough job can get even tougher. According to one report, teachers spend an average of $500 on classroom supplies each school year. That's a considerable amount of money!

As a third-grade teacher myself, I was spending approximately $400 - $500 on necessary supplies (e.g., paper, pencils, tissues, hand sanitizer, dry erase markers, bulletin board supplies, etc.) before school began each fall. I started getting tired of paying that much of my own money every year and knew there had to be a better way, or at least a cheaper way. I looked around on the internet for pointers on how to frugally supply my classroom and found some great ideas that I decided to try. Thankfully, a few of them actually worked, and now I pay next to nothing for classroom necessities!

Do you happen to be a teacher in the same predicament I was in? Read on for a closer look at the methods I use to help supply my classroom for next to nothing.

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How to Save on Supplies

School Supply Drive

Although hosting a school supply drive takes some planning, preparation and time on my part, I have seen great results. Each summer when I start getting things ready for the upcoming school year, I pick a couple days in mid-to-late August to host a school supply drive for my classroom. When I send out the traditional welcome letters to parents, which usually also include a long list of school supplies they need to purchase for their children, I instead send a flyer for the school supply drive. I also create an event for the drive on Facebook to reach out to parents there.

The flyer and Facebook event contain everything parents need to know regarding types of supplies and numbers. Instead of parents purchasing 20 different items for their children, they are encouraged to contribute a bulk number of one type of supply (e.g., 25 notebooks, 10 boxes of tissues, 15 packages of crayons, etc.). For some reason, parents have really stepped up and seem to enjoy this type of event, and my classroom ends up getting tons of resources and supplies! The students also love to help out, and it seems to get them excited about the school year. And last but not least, it's much cheaper for me!

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Classroom Adoption

Another method that has allowed me to get free classroom resources involves putting my classroom up for adoption through the Adopt A Classroom program. With this program, I register my classroom online and describe the items that will be purchased with any funds that are raised. Then, I reach out to local businesses, organizations and parents to inform them of the program and ask for donations. I can then purchase the supplies I need through online retailers that participate in the program. Although the school supply drive is a more fun, hands-on method, this method is effective as well. You might be surprised to see how many people are willing to help out a teacher in need!

Recycling

Just because a school year is over doesn't mean everything should be tossed in the trash! Near the end of each school year, I set up 'recycling' bins near the back of my classroom where students can put used, unwanted school supplies that normally might get thrown away.

Over the summer, I go through the bins and salvage everything I can. This includes notebook paper (I tear out all unused sheets) and used pencils--two of the most commonly needed supplies. Then, at the beginning of the following school year, I set up freebie bins in the same place. Anytime a student needs something, they can go check the bins in the back of the room. This has really been a great way to save money on supplies and cut down on trash as well.

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Be Proactive

The final thing I want to stress here is that you must be proactive if you really want to save money on things for your classroom. Yes, it might be quicker to just shell out hundreds of dollars on resources and supplies, but over time, those hundreds begin to add up. I personally couldn't afford to do that anymore! Once I realized I could use the methods I discussed here to supply my classroom with more than enough items, I never looked back.

By Erin Riskey
March 2017
opinion classroom resources

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