#Clearthelist: Why Teachers Need Your Help

author/source: Becky Hoffman

Rebecca-becky-hoffman-clearthelistTeacher. Or in the big city, it’s more like: mom, nurse, mentor, coach, cheerleader, advocate, counselor, and friend. As teachers, we wear many hats, not just an educator. Then, in addition, teachers are obligated to fund their own classrooms. We are given one case of copy paper and textbooks (usually not enough for all the students). We send home supply lists to our wonderful families, but sometimes it’s just not enough, or worse the families just can’t afford school materials. Teachers aren’t looking for handouts, but help is welcome.

Over my 10-year teaching career, I’ve taught 2nd, 4th, 5th, 6th, 7th, and 8th grades, but 4th grade is my calling. They are just perfect. It’s hard to explain--these kids are mine for a full school year. I get to be a part of their family: we laugh, we cry, we argue, we struggle, and in the end, we have all learned a great deal.

Rebecca-HoffmanI teach at a Title 1 school with free breakfast and lunch. Some of these students have too much responsibility at their homes, think they are “grown,” and have other issues to worry about other than school, yet they still LOVE to learn. “We are going to do something fun today,” is all I have to say and they are hooked and ready to go. We create plant cell models from candy and cookies. We dress up as doctors and dissect chicken legs to explore bones and muscles. Our “Grandma” volunteer (my mom) teaches fractions while making cookie dough; then she bakes them for a yummy treat. We write. And write. And write. It’s hard work, and my kids will tell you they don’t want to work hard some days- but they do- because deep down they know they are growing and shhh, they feel good about that.

Now imagine trying to accomplish this with no notebook paper or notebooks. Pencils? No. Materials for hands-on projects? No. What about tissues when kids have a cold, but still came to school because they wanted to? No. Snacks because some of these kiddos come to school hungry. Or cleaning supplies when we need to sanitize or clean up a mess?  Same answer, no. Teachers are required to gather donations, buy these supplies or do without them. But you know teachers--they will always go that extra mile for “their kids.” Teachers teach because they love learning and want to inspire kids to be passionate. Passionate about…Well, we aren’t picky—passionate about what they are interested in. We treat each child like one of our own, no questions asked. So what does every teacher do when it’s time for back to school? We buy and buy and buy some more. “It’s for the kids,” I tell myself as I put one more pack of crayons into my cart.

Anyone who does not have a teacher in their life probably doesn’t realize the amount of money teachers spend on their classroom and students. Most years it’s well over $1,000. What other profession spends money to do their job? Doctors don’t bring scalpels and sutures to surgery. Sports figures don’t bring bats and balls to each game. Why do we expect teachers to?  Teachers want their students to feel welcome and ready to learn. That means making the room look, smell and feel nice- and that is important. I know I am one of many teachers that has a second job to help with these expenses.  Yes, these materials are important because our students are important. 

Teachers-spending-money-in-classroomsMy list includes a variety of items. Some small and simple, and other items that are a little on the expensive side. But mainly I am looking for some pencils, notebooks, construction paper, coloring utensils, paper, and tissues- everyday school items that are not just “given” to my classroom. I have a million classroom “wants” but that’s not what this is about. It’s what is needed on a daily basis in a 4th-grade classroom. We need supplies all year, and teachers can use almost anything.

Yes, the education system is broken. When I tell people about the money I spend on my classroom they usually scoff or roll their eyes. Just today, at my second job, a nurse asked, “Why don’t schools give you supplies? That’s why we pay taxes.” I replied, “It’s not up to the teachers how your tax money is used.” Trust me, if we did, education wouldn’t be failing some of our children; all children would be excelling. So when you see a teacher reaching out for some classroom love, they aren’t being greedy or needy, they really could just use a few books for their classroom library or pencils. Until there is education reform, please be understanding for educators. We are professionals and do not want to ask for help. This teacher movement, #clearthelist on Twitter, created by Courtney Jones and promoted by Kristen Johnston, has helped many teachers get supplies they need for a successful school year.  I know I am personally grateful for these wonderful people whom I have never met who have purchased supplies to start my school year!  An extra special thank you to these kind-hearted people, as well as the many people who have shared my wish list. My list still continues on, but I am in a much better place than most years!

Becky-HoffmanMy name is Becky Hoffman. I attended Kutztown University and received my B.S. in Elementary Education. I proudly can say I am a National Writing Project Fellow and earned a Writing Certificate through the NWP. I have had the opportunity to live my dream career by teaching elementary school for 10 years. I have taught every grade except Kindergarten and 3rd grade. Currently, I teach 4th grade in the inner city and absolutely love it. I have taken Social Justice courses in my graduate courses along with education courses because teachers are life long learners. I also am employed in Materials Management at a local hospital as my second job. I am sports enthusiast especially the New England Patriots and the Philadelphia Phillies! 


THIS IS THE LINK to my Amazon Wish list with LOTS of classroom supplies and science experiment supplies. Thank you for this opportunity.  If you’d like to reach out, learn more or make a teacher connection you can tweet me @misshteaches4.