For those of us who have children of elementary school age, we’ve all been privy to the never-ending-supply list. As a prior teacher, I have the benefit of seeing both sides of often debated topic of what should and shouldn’t be on this list. It seems like each year, it only gets lengthier and we wonder if our tax dollars are truly at work, or if the superintendent of schools is vacationing in Fiji while our kids go without pencils.
Here’s the truth. Your tax dollars don’t cover everything. They don’t cover pencils, gluesticks, tissues for your child’s snotty nose or hand sanitizer for when they decide to forgo said tissue and pick their nose. And so, teachers ask you to help them out.
When I was an elementary school teacher, I carefully considered what I would ask my parents for on a “required list” of supplies. I would consider many factors like what kind of supply budget I was being given by my district, what I had already in my classroom, and what instructional strategies I planned to implement that year.
For example, my last couple of years teaching fifth grade, I used a concept called Interactive Notebooks where my students would keep all of their notes for science and social studies in a composition notebook. Part of this process included cutting, pasting, highlighting, circling concepts, drawing images, and more. It was a varied way to have children engage with content and it kept it all in one place. But, it also used a TON of glue.
And, so, I always asked for more glue sticks than some of my counterparts. Parents likely scoffed and complained, and then eventually realized over time what they were for. My point in telling you this?
Give the teacher the benefit of the doubt. They aren’t trying to hoard supplies, we are actually thinking about your child’s education and how we can ensure they have what they need for the majority of the year. And, quite frankly, most parents don’t follow through with the “replenish as-needed through the year” statement. Let’s be real. You’re busy, your kids forget to tell you they’re running low – the reasons run the gamut. Add in the fact that supplies are always marked down significantly at the start of the year, and stocking up is just budget smart for all involved.
And yes, there may also be a little bit of sharing going on with those students who really can’t afford to get the required number of glue sticks or paper. Most teachers take that into account somehow. Either by asking for a bit more, or simply dipping into their own pockets.
It’s usually both. Don’t even get me started with how much we dip into our own pockets to supply our students with a quality educational experience.
I simply ask you to understand that we consider many, many things when we put together our list. For me, I do consider those less fortunate because I was one of those kids. I remember distinctly how ashamed I felt coming in without the basic items that I needed and in clothes from last school year. It was no fault of my own, and yet, I had to endure the knowing that I didn’t have what everyone else did because my family could not afford to provide it. It is humiliating as a child.
Sure, we can certainly argue that it’s not our responsibility, I get it, but if it’s not a budget buster, then consider it an investment in your future. Hopefully education will lift these kids out of poverty and they will somehow contribute to the greater good in some way. I know the generosity of others certainly worked out for me.
If you are able to provide for your own kid the required supply list, then do it and do so with the faith that your teacher has your child, and their classmate’s best interest at heart. If you add a few extras in the mix, awesome. Whatever works for you.
I swear we aren’t gluing their mouths shut with those glue sticks. Only on those days when they are ridiculously chatty and we need a nap.