It’s August which means teachers and students are soaking in the last long days of summer sunshine and preparing for what we know is around the corner.
I have actually been so excited for this upcoming school year, and I have spent much of the summer brainstorming, revising, planning, and working. Next year, I will be teaching tenth graders and continuing to be a literacy coach. This means I get to partner with content area teachers at the secondary level and infuse reading strategies and support for our students.
I have seen a couple of blog posts circulating recently, now that it is August, about school supplies. Here is one in particular: “Why I Won’t Buy One Extra Box of Kleenex for My Kid’s School Supplies.” At first, I reacted in horror before the whole click bait knowledge caught up with my brain. By the end, you realize this is a blog written by a wealthy/middle-class white mother who realizes she can afford more than just one tissue box, so she will contribute more than what is being asked of her. And that she reaches a realization that many teachers end up spending their own paychecks on providing these supplies for her kids throughout the year.
My equity coach, Dr. Lee-Ann Stephens posted a quote that whirled me back into the reality of school beginning for many of my students. It’s a poem by Joshua T. Dickerson.
“I woke myself up
Because we ain’t got an alarm clock
Dug in the dirty clothes basket,
Cause ain’t nobody washed my uniform
Brushed my hair and teeth in the dark,
Cause the lights ain’t on
Even got my baby sister ready,
Cause my mama wasn’t home.
Got us both to school on time,
To eat us a good breakfast.
Then when I got to class the teacher fussed
Cause I ain’t got a pencil.”
Joshua T. Dickerson
I don’t share this to exploit poverty or make it seem like students, especially students of color, have parents who don’t value their education- so please don’t go there.
Two years ago, I was able to order a brand new class set of the text Citizen: An American Lyric by Claudia Rankine, and my students cared for them like they were phones whose screens hadn’t been cracked yet. Having beautiful, new learning materials really made a difference. I believe it contributed to more meaningful conversations, stronger effort, and a sense of recognized worth among them.
All this to say, if you are like me, and you make sporadic and frequent trips to Target, would you consider moseying down the school supply aisles and spending $5 or $10 on supplies to give to a teacher you know. Or, even just grab a gift card at checkout. I guarantee you us teachers will be shopping between now and Labor Day.
Here’s a list of what I plan to buy for my own classroom & classrooms I will be supporting this school year:
- Tissue Boxes – there are never enough.
- Construction paper
- Glue sticks
- 2 Pocket Folders
- Colored Pencils
- Pencil Pouches or Boxes
- Binders and dividers
- Headphones and headphone splitters
- Gift cards in small amounts ($5) to give as prizes and gifts throughout the year to both students and colleagues to coffee, Target, anywhere!
- Books that can be added to my classroom library that broaden student perspective and showcase characters who look like my students
Do you have some of these supplies sitting in drawers in your house? Do you have $10 you could give to a teacher you know to make the classroom a better learning environment? Please consider.