A well-stocked classroom is as important to a teacher as a well thought-out lesson plan.
Educators say everything from technology to multiplication flashcards to song books to pre-packaged snacks like Goldfish crackers are needed in a classroom.
Grants, foundations and the school district pay for much of those supplies. Oftentimes, it’s up to the teacher to fill in the gaps.
Austun Savitski and Mike Theriault, who teach an Intro to Education class at Batavia High School, shared their insights into classroom supplies.
“Supply needs depend on the class level and subject area. But every teacher wants to give kids the ability to learn and be motivated to learn in their classroom,” Theriault said.
“To do this, teachers must have the proper supplies, especially when students’ supplies break or they forget them, and teachers must have the resources to make their classroom a welcoming and positive learning environment.”
Here are some of the items classrooms need, according to Theriault:
• Backup technology.
• Extra ChromeBook chargers.
• Flexible seating options. “Classrooms that have flexible seating options often get students more engaged and excited to be in that class,” he said.
• Positive reinforcement items/incentives. They’re not just rewards for students doing their work, “but things that could help motivate students to want to come to class and learn with their peers,” he said. “The rewards can be totally separate from the class or relate directly to the class, like Rubik’s cubes and puzzles in a math class, games like Scrabble and Bananagrams in an English class, or Legos in the science class.”
Teachers need students in their classrooms, Savitski said.
“No matter what age, subject or ability level, the magic happens when we can be with our students,” she said. “This includes everything from understanding the subject matter to the students’ social-emotional well being.”
Matt Birdsley, director of curriculum and instruction for Sterling Public Schools, asked teachers throughout his district what they need in the classrooms. Here’s a sampling of their answers.
• Colored pens and pencils.
• Lamination sheets.
• Storage containers.
• Dry erase markers.
• Disinfectant wipes.
• Sidewalk chalk.
• Indoor recess games.
• STEM activities.
• Prepackaged snacks like Goldfish crackers.
• Mini whiteboards.
• Multiplication flashcards.
• Keyboards for iPads.
• Spinal notebooks.
The Dixon Public School District Foundation asks Dixon teachers each year for a wishlist of educational tools for their classrooms.
“We evaluate those lists, make selections, and then purchase about $30,000 worth of educational tools requested by teachers,” said Tom Wadsworth, who is chairperson of the foundation’s board.
Here’s a short list of educational tools that were purchased for Dixon teachers for the 2022-23 school year:
• Song books and instruments for the K-1 music classroom.
• Eight document cameras (the modern version of overhead projectors) for first grade classrooms.
• Supplies for art projects and organizational items for the reading program for third grade classrooms.
• Presentation clickers, world wall maps, and calculators for fifth grade classrooms.
• BrainPOP learning supplements for sixth through eighth graders.
• Microscopes for high school science.
• Shop rulers for high school industrial arts.
• Lab equipment for high school physics.
Since the foundation’s founding in 1993, donations from the community and funds from the foundation’s annual Stupor Bowl fundraiser have allowed the foundation to build an endowment of almost $1.5 million.
Interest generated by the endowment is used annually to enrich the education of students by buying educational tools the district can’t afford. In the last two years, the foundation has purchased about $65,000 of educational tools.
So how do teachers get supplies they need in addition to foundations?
Theriault said many schools give teachers money to buy supplies or there may be department funds, “but that only goes so far. Usually, teachers end up spending some of their own money on supplies.
“And teachers write a lot of grants,” Theriault said.
Savitsky said a well-stocked classroom always has an “awesome educator” making sure students have what they need to succeed.
“To get the supplies and maintain a stockpile, teachers have to be willing to ask,” she said. “The worst thing that can happen is someone says no. Families are very giving to a class as a whole if they have the means.”