Being a teacher is hard. Being a teacher to 96 high school students who think that Chemistry is just something they "have to get through" is daunting but very, very rewarding. I can't even imagine being a teacher to 25-35 elementary aged students! I find teaching my 19 month old daunting - so I think those teachers are amazing and fantastic. I lurk in the online moms groups of which I am a part, sometimes posting questions, sometimes answering questions in light of my experience and I am always surprised to see the threads in the following vein: I love my child's teacher, but why do they send home such a large list? It isn't like my student is going to use 3 boxes of kleenex or really needs paper towels? Why don't they just use their budget to pay for these things? If you love your child's teacher and the experience they are creating within the classroom, why are you surprised when teachers request that you purchase supplies to help continue that experience?
Now, I can't speak for every teacher, but I can say that most teachers put out lists at the beginning of the school year (or semester in high school) of items that your child needs to be successful within that class. Oftentimes the list will look something like this:
My current school is very generous with their supplies, each teacher gets unlimited copies on white paper (I've worked at schools where each teacher can only make 500 copies a week), a department budget to buy big ticket or department items and $200 per teacher, per year for all disposable supplies. I teach Chemistry, so the department budget is used for Chemicals, microscopes, specialty lenses for astronomy, laminated periodic tables and element samples, so there is rarely any budget left over for daily classroom use. That means, for the approximately 180 students I have every year, I have $200 ($1.11 per student) to buy colored paper, any edible lab supplies, markers, glue sticks, composition books, scissors and calculators. Its a stretch every year and we depend on the kindness of parents who look at our requested supply list and send their students prepared to learn. I can imagine the budget stretches even less in an elementary school where kids might spill paint, leave caps off markers, break pencils or crayons or use lots of paper learning to write or complete art projects.
Therefore, parents, I ask you this Valentine's season, to show your kid's teacher some love. Instead of buying chocolate or heart shaped mugs, but that same money into school supplies. Talk to him/her about what they need in the classroom or what projects are coming up and help them with supplies. Its February here in my classroom and we are almost out of glue sticks and many of my scissors are missing....I imagine the situation in other classrooms is similar, if not worse! I know that I will be adopting this practice when William goes to preschool and I always ask his daycare provider what supplies they need....and then purchase what I can!
I hope everyone has a great Valentine's Day! Any teacher's reading this ... I feel you with the students who have gone crazy on chocolate, but enjoy it, as today is for creating good (if crazy) memories!