Fourth in a series on what teachers do during the summer: While the 20% by 2020 plan has increased salaries for many Arizona teachers, most teachers still spend more than $500 a year out of their own pocket for classroom supplies, learning materials and snacks for their students.
A week before school starts, teachers, instructional coaches and assistant principals were buying classroom supplies, learning tools, storage, bulletin board and student reward items at Teaching & Learning Stuff in Glendale.
Paul Blakely, who teaches sixth grade science and social studies at Alta Loma Elementary School in Peoria Unified School District, said he was looking for materials that tie in with the units he teaches on ancient civilizations as well as life and physical science.
Video by Mary Irish/AZEdNews: What Mr. Blakely would get for his classroom with a grant
Some teachers have used crowdfunding to obtain technology for their classrooms, add flexible or adaptive student furniture, and provide learning tools that engage students and help them achieve.
Resources like Treasures4Teachers and Maricopa County Education Service Agency’s STEM Resource Center help many educators.
Many teachers have found that applying for grants is another way to help meet their students’ needs.
AZEdNews is celebrating its fifth anniversary by giving back to teachers with $200 classroom grants to enhance classroom learning that will be given out in September, December, February and April of this year.
AZEdNews Teacher Series:
Part 1: Film: Challenges of raising a family on a teacher’s salary continue
Part 2: Teacher training: Ways to help students
Part 3: School’s not out for teachers leading student learning activities
Part 4: What classroom supplies teachers buy and what they’d like for students
Part 5: Schools welcome back staff with rallies, learning opportunities
Apply for an AZEdNews classroom grant
When asked what a $200 classroom grant would allow him to do, Blakely said “It would be like a shopping spree for me here. I’d be like a kid in a candy store.”
Blakely said he’d use a grant to get more reading materials students could use in his social studies class.
“I’d look for books that can expand or even tier the levels of education for the students,” said Blakely, who has taught for 25 years.
Lianne Beard, who has taught geometry for 20 years and will be teaching College Algebra this year, said she was buying some algebra posters for her classroom.
“I’d probably buy some technology for my classroom,” Beard said. “More graphing calculators for my students to use.”
Video by Mary Irish/AZEdNews: What Ms. Beard would do with a classroom grant
Melissa Champey, PTA president and librarian at Copper King Elementary School in the Pendergast School District, said she was buying road, car and van bulletin board items that tie in with the school’s theme Road Trip to Success 2020.
“If I had a $200 classroom grant, I would purchase things for our maker space that we’re incorporating in the library,” Champey said.
Video by Mary Irish/AZEdNews: What Ms. Champey would buy for students with a grant
Megan O’Connell, a sixth grade teacher, said she was “buying some things to decorate the classroom to make it look really nice for the kids,”
“If I had a $200 grant, I’d buy things that could help to keep the classroom running procedure wise, because that’s the most important part to have all those procedures down so the kids can run the class without you,” O’Connell said.
Video by Mary Irish/AZEdNews: What Ms. O’Connell would get for students with a grant
Elizabeth Scott, a second grade teacher, said she bought some name and desk tags for her students and magnetic tape to put things on the classroom white board.
“I would definitely purchase things I don’t normally purchase, which would be things like those desk dividers that allow students to work independently,” Scott said. “I would purchase some of these totes for my classroom library, because I was at the dollar store buying some, but they don’t last very long.”
Video by Mary Irish/AZEdNews: What a grant would help Ms. Scott buy for her class
Scott said she’d like to find a door bell with different tones to use as a reminder as students transition to a new activity, and that she’d buy more pencils and markers than she usually does.
“I would buy extra supplies for students who can’t afford them. I do that anyway, but it would be nice to have that supplemented,” Scott said.
It would also be a big help to buy “some extra online or file folder games that I don’t have to create or make myself that I could use with my class,” Scott said.
Another priority would be “flexible seating pieces so students can have choices throughout the week where they’d like to do their work,” Scott said.