Sam Hall’s Budget Tips for New Teachers
As a newly hired teacher, walking into my classroom for the first time made quite an impression on me. The previous teacher left me one thing: a handwritten poster with the classroom rules. At the time, I was transitioning from restaurant management into teaching (talk about a career change).
Essentially, I was broke and had a classroom with nothing.
Luckily, with a little research and a whole lot of help, I was able to pull my classroom together before my students walked through the door. I made it through the year with some clever ideas and wanted to share these tips with other new teachers to help them get off to a good start!
Tip #1: Hit up other teachers
Some teachers have been teaching and stocking up on supplies for an eternity. I had a teacher who handed over boxes of pencils and paper, while begging me to take 3 stacks of transparencies (yes, from those old overhead projectors). Not only can you get some supplies, it’s a good time to meet your colleagues! Go visit the classrooms around you, or even send out an email to the other teachers and admin (they can point you in the right direction). My first year, I had a teacher give me an entire binder of resources and lesson plans for my subject. It was a lifesaver and trust me, seasoned teachers know the struggle and they love giving help and budget tips for new teachers.
Tip #2: Get creative
Remember those transparencies? I found a use for them – they were great for dry erase graphing! Don’t be scared to think outside the box with supplies. You wouldn’t believe the amount of science projects that can be done with gallon jugs, 2-liter bottles and paper-towel rolls. Check out sources like Pinterest or Instagram for ideas. There’s nothing like the ingenuity of a new teacher on a budget!
Tip #3: Don’t be scared to ask for donations
Donations can come in the most unlikely of places. Local businesses are a good starting point as they may want to offload some overstocked or old inventory. Or, perhaps they also have a child in the local public school system and want to help out for their sake. Either way, it never hurts to ask! Also, restaurants love helping students in any way they can – I know from experience (previous restaurant manager, remember?). If the local area isn’t a good place to start, don’t forget about organizations like donorschoose or adoptaclassroom.
Tip #4: Go thrifting
One of my favorite budget tips for new teachers – repurposing things that others no longer want or need. We all know that classroom libraries and flexible seating are popular in classrooms. Don’t be scared to go to a thrift store or even check out Facebook Marketplace or Craigslist to get this started! I have a robust classroom library thanks to my local “Friends of the Library” book sale. I know many teachers with fluffy, comfortable couches and chairs from a nearby Goodwill. Sometimes a person’s cast-offs can be your classroom’s treasure.
Tip #5: Let’s get digital
This is where ClassTag was a lifesaver. With a limited printing budget, it was easier just to send announcements, sign-ups, class newsletters and photos, digitally. Not only did going digital help my print budget and save time, it also let me feel good about going green.
Tip #6: Use those teacher discounts
Many national retailers offer teachers discounts. For example, both Michael’s and JoAnn Fabric offer a 15% off teacher discount. Barnes & Noble offers 20% off books purchased for the classroom and during the month of August, and on Saturdays and Sundays, they offer additional discounts for those with the Educator Card. Check out your state and local Department of Education websites for even more discounts! Also, don’t forget about money saving apps! Ibotta, Shopkick, Walmart Savings Catcher, and Target’s Cartwheel quickly made their way onto my phone.
Tip #7: Don’t be scared of parents
I cannot give this advice enough. Parents like to be asked for help. You can always send a list of needed supplies by creating an event sign-up in ClassTag. Follow up with a personal thank you in the private messaging channel! This is one of the most important budget tips for new teachers.
Hopefully my tips and tricks will help you build up your classroom. The first year of teaching can be tough, but rewarding. Don’t forget to step back and ask for help. It takes a village to raise a child. Collaborating with teachers and the community is a surefire way to help make your classroom a place of love and learning.
Want to find even more free supplies for your classroom? ClassTag is an easy-to-use collaborative platform that lets teachers effortlessly engage with parents and earn ClassTag Coins while doing so! Sign up for ClassTag and start earning Rewards today!