The Worst Thing About Teaching (and How YOU Can Help)

Monday, August 1, 2016

When I went through my education program in college, we talked pedagogy. We talked philosophy. We talked big dreams and goals for changing lives.

But do you know what we didn't talk about?

Classroom budgets.

Or lack thereof.

It was a rude awakening for me to get my classroom budget my first year teaching and find out I had $100 to spend on every single thing I might need for 4 general music classes (2 per semester) and 4 choir classes. It wasn't even enough to cover music for one concert! Not to mention pencils, folders, replacement keyboards and headphones, etc... Over the years, I don't even want to think about how much of my personal money I spent on extra pencils, paper, and other general supplies. It was one of the worst things about teaching, the fact that I had to spend so much energy searching for good deals on school supplies and figuring out how to fundraise to cover the rest, when I should have been able to focus that energy on my students!

And I'm not the only teacher who's had that problem - I'm pretty sure it's a nationwide epidemic. There's just never enough money. And as annoying as it is for parents to get nickeled and dimed with activities fees, fundraisers, and supplementary expenses, it's often the only way to keep things from completely falling apart in underfunded schools.

Private and parochial schools aren't immune to these issues, either! They want to offer as much financial aide and scholarship money as possible so that more students who otherwise wouldn't be able to afford these opportunities can make them a possibility, and every penny that isn't dedicated to buying classroom supplies can go towards helping students in need afford tuition.

I noticed when I was recruiting elementary students for my middle school choral program that in every main office, there was a prominently displayed container for collecting Box Tops for Education. Students (and parents) just had to cut them off the lids of the foods they were already buying and they went towards vital supplies for the school at no cost to students! Then I noticed that our old parish had a collection box in the narthex so that parishioners could donate their Box Tops to help the school attached to the parish.

This summer Walmart is offering a special Box Top promotion for the purchase of the products listed on their website - I know Andrew and I (and the kids, if we're willing to share) love the Nature Valley granola bars, and I've always had a soft spot for Chex Mix... And while we homeschool, there are several local schools that our friends attend that collect Box Tops, so we'll be passing ours along to them!

We were headed to Walmart to run errands, and noticed that there were quite a few General Mills products that offered 5 Box Tops on each purchase, which gives $.50 to your school!  

Cookie dough...


Even my favorite granola bars!
We picked up a few items that looked good (those Nature Valley™ Sweet & Salty Nut Granola Bars are INCREDIBLE) and brought them home to share. Well, I wasn't planning on sharing the granola bars, but once the kids knew we had them, it was all over... 

I have a feeling we'll be stopping by for more very soon!

Although Peter was a bit dubious...

I'm not always great about remembering to save our Box Tops, but John Paul went right to work finding them on any products we already had in the pantry, and on the ones we had just bought! 
You'll find the 5-for-1 boxes (full list of participating products here) have two Box Tops to cut - one on the side flap, and one on the actual top of the box. He found them both!

And at a reader's suggestion, we stuck a bag to the side of the fridge with a magnet so that we can collect them and keep them up high so that little hands don't lose them! 

Classroom teachers have enough on their plates without having to worry about how much of their paycheck they're spending on pencils because their budget was exhausted before school even started. Do you have a local school you can help out with your Box Tops

I'd love to hear what your favorite participating products are! Check out the list here and let me know what's worth trying - is the Nature Valley™ cereal any good? Do your kids adore Annie's® Macaroni & Cheese?

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