1. Oh Penny. If only all teachers were like you, and there were a hundred million more. Our world would be a better place. Not only are you clearly SO passionate about instilling a love of literacy, you also deeply care for these little people through your card writing, SEEING them, rewarding them. You are thoughtful of others’ parenting desires in offering the information and choice of food or non-food reward. I can only pray that should I ever reproduce, my offspring will have more teachers like you than not in their lives. Thank you for all you do. I wish you a fruitful new school year, and many many more.

    • The good news is that I firmly believe there are vastly more amazing teachers than duds. And I’d like to take credit for being thoughtful, but we can’t feed kids without explicit permission.

      (I also have to get permission for the kinds of books they are allowed to read from my class library. This year, I got a permission slip back that said, “No magic.” And I was sad.)

      • 20 years ago, I was Drama co-ordinator and our year 7 course had a unit on witches and wizards. I still clearly remember the Exclusive Brethren couple who came to the school and prayed over me.
        I worked at a Government school. Religion isn’t taken into account. Why they’d choose to send their child there and then expect me to change the curriculum for them is astounding.
        Kids do very well with a bit of magic in their imaginations.

        • Religious ones. My dad was a minister (and in a fairly liberal church), and he still had people ask him “what? you let your kids play dungeons & dragons? and video games?”

          Um, yes. It’s make believe. But some people truly do believe in magic just as much as they do in God, and they believe that magic is a Devil’s tool. Not even kidding.

          I will say, re: HP, that I will totally let my kids read them. But I am concerned about ages, because there’s some heavy things as the books age up. Many of my friends have 6 year olds reading HP, but I’m going to have my eldest wait for sure due to the subject matter.

          • I try really hard to respect the wishes of all families! Even though I may not agree with them all the time, it isn’t my place to say. So I’ll always ask about books…and treats. 🙂

          • The first two books and movies are 100% ok for 6 year olds. The third one maybe not (DC1 got about halfway through and then gave up until older, DC2 hasn’t tried it). Plus you can stop after the first two books without feeling like there’s a cliff-hanger.

  2. Marie

    Your teacher posts always make me cry. I can’t handle the Scholastic orders and some kids getting books each month and some never getting one, and I know you go out of your way to care for your especially low income students year round and in a variety of ways. I ordered a megapack from Scholastic for my kinder’s teacher at the start of this year and asked her to pass them out as needed and let me know when she needs a refill. I picked up some giftcards and gave them to our teachers and told them to get whatever their classroom needs. We used to pay $11K/year for fulltime childcare for one kid and now that they are in public school I feel like a huge line item in our budget has been cleared for generosity instead of stretching us to our max. As many other goals as I have for those funds, I am also trying to take care of those who take care of mine all day and appreciate that I can finally do gifts. I’m not trying to humblebrag 😉 I just wanted you to know that you’ve inspired me to keep all of this in mind at the start of the year and although you are not my children’s teacher, I am always thinking of you when I do this. I’ve been reading for a long time and don’t think I’ve commented but I want to say thank you for writing, and I look forward to reading it every. single. time. Keep at it.

    • Oh, Marie. I wish there was a way that I could tell you how much this comment means to me. I just can’t. There aren’t words. I will say this: I don’t think I could ever earn enough money from blogging to feel better than I felt reading these words. Priceless! They were exactly what I needed when I needed them. Thank you!

      Also, thank you for being an advocate and an ally in your school. You should brag! I know that wasn’t your intent, but the support that you are giving is utterly amazing.

  3. My side hustle used to be selling jewelry via a home party plan. The ladies further up the line from me seemed like the popular girls at school – cheerleaders who had beauty, brains, and money. Deep down, I wanted to be like them, but I never could sell like they could. I think, like you, I realized that people really don’t need this stuff, and I always felt guilty peddling over-priced crap that tarnished and broke.

    When I discovered minimalism, I quit the jewelry gig and gave all my jewelry and supplies (yes, hundreds of dollars worth!) to the lady who ‘signed me up.’ It felt so good to be free of the stuff that was weighing me down.

    It’s not just teachers who don’t need this stuff – thanks for the perspective!

  4. I know this was more of a serious post Penny, but I did laugh there at the end! “I don’t need your norwex. I don’t need your essential oils.” It made me chuckle, especially because we have both in our house right now (although we DO NOT sell it). I am actually somewhat partial to Norwex which isn’t easy to admit…

    On to your topic, my parents and one grandfather were all in education. My mom retired after 34 years in elementary school, my Dad retired after about the same amount of time in administration, my stepmother retired after being a deputy superintendent at the school district she had been an administrator in for decades, and my grandfather was a high school principal. I FEEL YOUR PAIN. There are so many costs that teachers have to eat. I saw my mom struggle with trying to get my brother and I ready for a new school year and get her classroom ready (she was a single parent).

    My hat is off to you. Teachers are amazing human beings and deserve much more credit for the hard work and effort you put in!

  5. To be frank, I’m always astonished when I read of what American teachers are expected to supply for their classes. Our school supplies all of the teachers’ stationary supplies for free, “Just look at the catalogue and put your order in”… and tissues for the kids – the school nurse has a huge cupboard with hundreds of tissue boxes in it that teachers and kids can go to… if we want posters for the rooms, extra textbooks or other teaching tools our department orders them without batting an eye… we even buy a Chromebook for each of our 2,300 kids that they use for the 6 years they’re with us.

    An optional thing I buy – business cards from Vistaprint with stick figure drawings of kids jumping on a trampoline and the words” You did outstandingly well in English today. Ms Frogdancer is jumping for joy!” I hand them out for great results or when kids have surpassed themselves.
    Penny, you’re so right. With a little reward like that, you can change the world. I teach adolescents, and they LOVE getting a card.

  6. Penny, you have such a big heart (to match your keen mind) and those kids are so lucky to have you. All the teachers I know go out of their way to take care of their students, even when it means spending their own money. It’s just a shame that it has to be that way. P.S. We love Jolly Ranchers in our house. They’re not just for kids!

  7. Thanks for the reminder to check donorschoose. I hate that our tax dollars don’t provide for kids. I give to my kids’ schools (our principal also says gift cards are the way to go because with cash through the school they are limited to where they can purchase from), but there are so many schools which have less funding.

    • Right? Why does the States have so much money for the military but not enough to buy Kleenex for schoolkids?

      (Totally rhetorical question…but the priorities of government piss me off.)

  8. Totally with you on this one. I’d say we are on the high end of spending for my wife’s high school classes, but there are no alternatives. I’ll add a pet peeve to the list. I’m tired of having the school send things home for my child to sell the the same group of people all the other kids know. I’d like the school to tell me that they expect my child to bring in a certain amount of money over the course of the year and give me the option to donate that to the school. I don’t need any more cookie dough, chocolate bars, popcorn, or school themed gear. Let me just write a check, please.

    In reading that through, I totally sound like an Oldster. But, it is what it is.

    • It was revelatory when I realized I could just say no to the terrible chocolate bars and just give them a check instead. (If they tell you how much they expect your kids to sell, you can usually go to the website and figure out what small cut of that the school gets, but it’s easier just to call up or email the school and ask.)

      The year we lived in a super expensive school district in another state they did ask you suggested, but the suggested donation was $500/kid on top of the suggested/quasi-mandatory school supplies donation of $80, which seems out of reach for a lot of people. (Though that $80 is less than what we spend here on stuff from the school supplies list AND we didn’t have to deal with back to school shopping.)

  9. It makes me so sad that the US doesn’t invest in education and that you end up paying for these things out of your own pocket. But thank you for doing it!

    It’s amazing how much of a motivation a small prize can be. I still remember that in grade 2 we had weekly spelling tests, and we would get a sticker if we got 100% on the test. Do you know how much time I spent practicing my spelling? I recruited both of my parents to test me throughout the week. (Sadly, I’m not a great speller…but I probably get everything from my grade 2 spelling tests correct.)

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