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Teachers: Save your money for you!!
Old 05-26-2020, 07:02 PM
 
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I am nearing retirement and have some wisdom based on hard knocks and experience. I have spent a fortune over the years on my classroom: projects, decor, books, science lessons, you name it. Looking back, I bet that half of that money in no way contributed to my student's learning or success in life.

I was a single mom and often used a credit card for some of this. I paid high interest rates out of my meager teacher's salary to just finance daily happenings in my classroom. Many of you may be considering going into debt to gift your students at the end of the school year. I am here on this vent board to remind you that the last day of school is exciting enough as it is. Gifts don't make it noticeably better. Even books. I doubt 1 in 5 of my students read the books they already got for free this year.

Spending personal grocery money to fill prize boxes is expensive. Some would say it is worthwhile if it helps provide an incentive for better behavior. I get it. I once thought so.

But now there is a new trend. Teachers are expected to shower their students with gifts for every holiday and occasion. It is almost alarming. Think back on your childhood. Did your teachers have a specially decorated candy bar waiting for you on Meet the Teacher night, a Halloween treat, Christmas gifts, Valentines bag of goodies, end of the school "movie night" bucket with cute sayings? Mine didn't. I didn't miss it. Nobody thought it was their job to do so.

You've taught the kids all year. The parents should be thanking you with a small card or gift, not the other way around. Pay off your credit cards and save your money for your retirement. Buy something special for yourself or do something fun with your own children or parents. Choose a child in need and help them anonymously.

I do mail out a postcard during the summer and gear it toward the child. Ex. "Are you having a nice summer with your dog Brownie?" Inexpensive. When I run into kids and their parents they practically glow telling how surprised they were.

I love kids and teaching. I'm not a Scrooge. And if you just spent your grocery money and hours gluing wrappers that say "Have a sweet summer!" onto candy bars, I hope you aren't offended. I was once you. But if this post saves one teacher from not going further into debt, this post is worth it. Teachers, you do enough. You are enough. Have a great summer.


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Old 05-26-2020, 07:23 PM
 
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Yes! Exactly what heart4kids said. There is no need to buy end-of-year gifts for your students (or holiday gifts or Ö).

The teacher's responsibility is to teach. To plan engaging, effective lessons. To encourage, to guide, to sometimes be incredibly patient and sometimes very firm--and to know which is needed; to care about each and every student and to be sure that the students know. But not because of gifts.

Gift giving is for their families and close friends. You are the teacher.

I think that many of us have boundary issues and don't know where to draw a line between being a teacher and being family. Our hearts are in the right place, but we need to remember that teaching is, in the end, a job.

And, for sure, please don't use the money that your own children need to pay for things for your classroom.
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Old 05-26-2020, 07:35 PM
 
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I was once you- am now retired and married. One year when I went to do my taxes I found that I had spent two thousand dollars on the children or fun things for the classroom. When I saw that number, it hit home. I totally agree with you.
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Old 05-26-2020, 07:54 PM
 
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I was never truly aware how many teachers gave their students gifts until this year. Itís their prerogative to give gifts.

I spent a lot of money on my classroom and students when I first began teaching. Then one Valentines Day I forgot to give out my Valentines to my students. They never noticed. From then on I never gave my students gifts unless I truly felt moved to do so. Releasing myself from what I thought was an obligation to give was freeing.

I wrote notes and send cards. That is enough.
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Save your money
Old 05-26-2020, 08:21 PM
 
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Amen to this!!!!! In the beginning I bought tons of stuff: furniture, fancy art materials, room decor, etc. then I just stopped because I realized half of what I bought should have been supplied by district, but it wasnít.

And all the gift gifting makes my teeth itch. They got a Valentine card from me (store bought) and candy cane at Christmas and maybe a mug from Dollar Store. End of year they got a hug.

Save your money.


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Old 05-26-2020, 09:13 PM
 
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I stopped spending my own money completely around my 5th year of teaching (I'd slowed down on what I bought around year 3, but hadn't stopped). That was right around when we were facing year after year of freezes or tiny raises- we never recovered from the previous recession- and they also cut summer school, which meant I needed to take a hard look at my budget. I haven't spent a dime since and definitely do not regret it. And I can't think of a single instance where I really needed something and didn't get it either. I teach with the materials I have and I've gotten much better at advocating for getting school bought materials.

I only wish other teachers felt the same. Because teachers continue to fund their own classrooms, school districts don't bother to budget for that expense. Not only will the teachers do it for them, they'll often do so happily. I've been at more than one work happy hour or other event where teachers were gushing about how they get so excited to see school supplies come out in the fall and how much they love shopping for them.

People look at me like I have 3 heads when I say I won't spend money on my classroom. We do thankfully have a small supply closet at my school. However, one year when we were moving buildings, the secretary decided to stop purchasing halfway through the year because she didn't want to have to pack extra things up. We ran out of dry erase markers and of course everyone else ran right out and bought their own. I use dry erase boards constantly in my classroom, but I said that year if we ran out we'd just switch to paper/pencil. You would have thought I suggested the kids walk through fire . I had other teachers offering to buy me some and I could "pay them back later." It was just unfathomable to them to refuse to buy your own supplies. Why do we just accept this as the norm?
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Old 05-26-2020, 09:20 PM
 
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I donít plan on ever spending my own money if I get a classroom. Iíll build a reading library through donated books or through grants, but Iím not going to build it with my own money.
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Good to remember...
Old 05-26-2020, 09:36 PM
 
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I once worked for a principal who allowed the secretaries to come into my room and take my supplies over the summer. She thought they were the schoolís, but they were things I had purchased. She apologized, but I felt violated.

After that, I took a good look at my classroom spending. If it was not appreciated, it was not necessary. I later had a principal who hated clutter. Less was definitely more where she was concerned. If I gave my students a gift, it was something free with bonus points or something simple like a grocery store water bottle with a crazy straw and a printable card.

I never was in debt due to classroom spending or student gifts. And the biggest gift your students will have is being in your classroom.
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Old 05-26-2020, 10:31 PM
 
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I was never truly aware how many teachers gave their students gifts until this year.
The same, with a bit of an edit. I was never aware how many teachers spent so much of their own money on classroom stuff (and SO much money!) until I joined PT. I almost never spent anything on classroom stuff. We didn't have a ton, but I figured out what I could do with what I had. It never occurred to me to spend money to work until I started meeting teachers here on PT who did. I know not all classrooms are equal and I've learned that many schools apparently don't even provide enough basics. The one thing I did do was invest a lot of time in translating and creating my own materials because we didn't have many materials in the target language and we had no structured curriculum beyond the basic standards. They got enough of my blood, sweat, and tears. They didn't need my meager salary, too.

I do wonder sometimes when people are unhappy with their low rate of pay how much of it has gone back out to supplement their classroom.
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Old 05-26-2020, 11:08 PM
 
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I agree with this so much. I know many of you want to baby these students, especially these hard times. You know what? It's not your fault and these are not your kids. They have real families. Hard times build character. To know when you fall down, or get pushed down, you can pick yourself up. To know when times are lean, you can dig down and survive.


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Old 05-26-2020, 11:24 PM
 
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i'm curious to know whether your experience as a sub led you to this conclusion or if you already felt that way?

as for me, i have no intention of becoming a regular teacher, but if i did, i would certainly not spend money on my room. i have watched too many kids of all ages inadvertently or intentionally destroy materials, and disrespect and damage classrooms to ever think i would want to give them more to tear up. i also think being a sub makes you realize what you can do with almost nothing.
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Old 05-27-2020, 02:35 AM
 
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Cross- it was really grad school when I was student teaching. My cooperating teacher had spent years building up a library. It was huge, but she had put thousands into it and the kids would check out books and never bring them back and she couldnít do anything about it really. The wear and tear was really rough on them, so she had to keep rebuying titles. Sometimes she would have a book for a week and it would get checked out and never get brought back. Just didnít seem worth it.
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Teaching is the only job ...
Old 05-27-2020, 02:39 AM
 
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... that I know of where an employee is expected to buy their own supplies.

My husband doesnít need to purchase his own copy paper. He doesnít need to buy pens, pencils, markers, etc. Of course, if thereís something he wants that isnít typically provided, he does spend the money. To be honest, though, I canít think of what that might be.

Nurses donít need to buy bandaids if they run out of the meager stash given to them at the start of the year. Police officers donít have to purchase bullets. Bus drivers donít have to spend their own money on gasoline. Chefs donít have to buy ingredients.

Why, then, is there an expectation for teachers to use their own money?
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I agree
Old 05-27-2020, 03:57 AM
 
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Donít waste your money. I would give Christmas gifts of personalized pencils. I now give pencils from the dollar store and thatís it. I stopped spending when I realized in my 20th year of teaching I could have saved a year of college tuition for ds instead of buying things for my classroom and kids. I get money for supplies and thatís what I spend. I will only buy something if itís for me. No more pencils, books, stickers, prizes, and gifts. The kids will are fine. I see many young teachers making Pinterest classrooms and spending a fortune. I tell them out the money towards you and your family. If you are a young teacher, take that $1,000 and put it in a retirement savings every year.
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Old 05-27-2020, 04:03 AM
 
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The psychology of this teacher shopping ranges from "I don't want the kids to do without" to "let me have the best looking classroom.". In between is the rationale of " it makes my job easier." That was me. I did not buy myself things on credit but I did have an easier time with management by supplying myself with white boards and chair pockets. After a few years the money was provided by the district. I can foresee teachers falling into this debt trap again with the budget cuts coming. I encourage anyone reading this to check online marketplaces for used materials from teachers. This was my first go to for classroom supplies.. and I did it because some years I had an absolutely empty classroom to start the year. That is not how kindergarten and first grade rooms should look but this is what is done to beginning teachers in many schools.
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gifts
Old 05-27-2020, 05:30 AM
 
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Interesting thread.. I do agree with you all. So, here's another take. During this remote learning I have 2 kids (how sad, only 2) that ALWAYS come to my live meets. Other's come here and there, but these 2 come every single day. Their moms and dads tell me how much they appreciate me and compliment me (which is really all I ever want from a parent) Anyway, I want to buy these 2 a gift and mail it to them along with a nice card to family for being so supportive during this remote teaching. I actually might do this even though the parent should be the one sending me a card or gift!! (I actually felt like I got a gift when parents complimented me)
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Old 05-27-2020, 06:54 AM
 
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I think there can be a middle ground.

Iím single and do buy things for my students or for my classroom, when I want to, not due to pressure from other teachers. I have never racked up debt to do this (I donít even have a credit card) or gone without things for myself.

Iím in a Title I school and while students bring in items on the supply list itís not always everything. We get $200 from the state every year and I donít spend a lot beyond that anymore. My school provides one rest of copy paper a month and no other supplies, no other copy paper. So, yes having supplies I want or need is on me or my students families.
But, I have also purchased shoes or a coat for my kids... again because I want to.

But, my classroom library is something Iíll always spend money on because I choose to. I get books cheaply a variety of ways and my kids arenít allowed to take them home or even keep them in their desks. I lose maybe 3-5 books a year due to use.
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Old 05-27-2020, 07:05 AM
 
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This is such good advice. When I look back I see how my own family did without because of the $$ spent on my classroom.

We need to act like professionals in order to be treated as professionals.

I woke up about this issue mid way through my career when my school became an IB school. It was very expensive and required lots of stuff for hands on projects.. Our district chose to do this and told the teachers there was no money for supplies - we would have to figure it out. I am proud to say that all 45 teachers banded together and refused to purchase anything out of their own pocket - not even a pencil. And amazingly our school budget grew to accomodate all the needed supplies.
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Old 05-27-2020, 07:44 AM
 
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I admit that I have fallen into the trap of spending my own money on supplies. In my case it was because I sometimes encountered such absurd restrictions on spending money that I had budgeted for that it was just a lot easier to buy it myself if it was a fairly low cost item.

For instance, we had a rule for a while that anything that qualified as "media" had to go through our extremely controlling librarian and then had to kept in the library. So, as a music teacher, I wasn't allowed to buy CD's, books or videos/DVD's and keep them in my room - if I could even get them approved. It was easier to buy them myself.

And then when we went to a system where we had to request everything through a laborious Skyward process, even when it had been budgeted and approved, it was often easier to just buy it. Same thing with the few office supplies that I needed: find it in a huge catalog or just go to the store and buy it? Hmm.

And, I also resent this notion that a truly dedicated teacher will spend hours of her own time writing a grant to get what she needs. That's after appearing before the school board to get permission to write the grant. I don't think so.

Ultimately, for me, it ended up being a simple matter of balancing time against personal expenditures. Sometimes it was worth the money even though I knew, even at the time, that it was all a strategy to make teachers spend their own money.

I very much appreciate that, in my current position, I don't have to spend my own money and I don't have to jump through a bazillion hoops to spend $25.
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Old 05-27-2020, 09:52 AM
 
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I definitely did spend money on my classroom when I was teaching. Mostly books, but also other things. Mostly things that were organizers or the like that came home with me when I finished teaching. I rarely lost books and when I left teaching when my kids were born, I kept my favorites and sold the rest.

I didn't do gifts that cost money except maybe once or twice in my 4 years teaching. I did do No HW passes for certain holidays. Kids loved that. We had free time on Fridays for about 20 mins and kids who did their homework all week got to do free time. Kids who didn't had to work on their missing homework. If they had a HW pass and forgot or lost or didn't do their HW, they could use that instead. They weren't even very cute HW passes! I'd just make it in Word with text and maybe a clipart image, print, and cut.
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Old 05-27-2020, 02:58 PM
 
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I do buy things for my classroom. I buy things to make my teaching life easier. I don't, however, spend money for work while I don't meet my own needs at home.

I know people who do choose to spend money on their classrooms when they really struggle to make ends meet. It would be really tempting to tell them that they don't need to do that, but in the end people will spend their money however they feel led to spend it.
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money for the classroom
Old 05-27-2020, 03:34 PM
 
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Over the years I spent a certain amount of money on my classroom. When our district went to guided reading, insisting that children have new, never seen print in front of them every day, most teachers used their own money to buy subscriptions for books to run off and construct on their own time to build up libraries. Our shopping in thrift stores was more like a raid than a shopping outing. If I were back in the classroom I would always insist that the curriculum be 100% provided. I didn't spend much on prize box stuff and I know the kids weren't super excited, but that was my decision. I never spent much for gifts. Pencils and erasers. I used Scholastic points for books for Christmas and an end of year gift. At times there were paper shortages, so I supplemented that too. Toward the end of my career there was a big push to limit candy and sweets so that made it easier for all. Thank you, Michelle Obama! I always shake my head when I hear of teachers who feel the need to "change the theme" in their classroom. I can't imagine what that must cost.
You will never regret putting you, your family and your retirement first.
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Old 05-27-2020, 08:34 PM
 
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Candy is actually an inexpensive gift and the kids always liked it, so I think it is too bad it's no longer an option. Let's face it, for $5 or so, you could give the kids a dollar store pencil tied with curled ribbon from a big (cheap) roll to a candy cane or lollipop which looked very appealing and the kids were happy!
Last year, I found mini bottles of bubbles in the bargain bin at Target for the last day of school, which was an inexpensive option. I don't spend tons, but I do like to do a little something for the kids.
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Old 05-27-2020, 08:59 PM
 
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Teachers are expected to shower their students with gifts for every holiday and occasion. It is almost alarming.
This is what I most object to. I used to like buying a little gift for students - a pencil here, a $1 book there. I never went into debt over it, and I could still afford it now. When it became an expectation, that's when I started to object. The students are also far less grateful these days than just a decade ago.
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Old 05-28-2020, 04:37 AM
 
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I agree that teachers should not be spending their own money on classroom supplies and decor. I am a parent and substitute teacher. I have no idea why teachers spend their own money. Like was noted, no other workers have to supply their office with paper, pencils, printer ink, etc. The taxpayers have no idea you are doing this, and wouldn't understand if they did.

As far as gifts, please don't think that is required at all. I know some teachers make a huge deal about this, but the kids do not care about trinkets the teacher gives them. The gifts probably end up on the floor of the car on the way home. No one has to say that kids just aren't grateful anymore, just stop bothering with gifts of any kind.

During this shutdown, my kids are not sitting at home pining for their teachers and hoping they get a gift. They are happy to be out of school! Except for missing their friends during this time. I have a middle school and high school student. If there was any kind of parade and teacher whatever saying how much they miss the students, we weren't interested. We are here taking care of ourselves as a family.

I as a fellow parent, hope the teachers in my area are taking care of their families first, not only during this shutdown, but always.
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Spending money
Old 05-28-2020, 01:10 PM
 
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If I had a family or was limited in budget, I would have found other ways, but it was never an issue for me.
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well put FBMidwest
Old 05-28-2020, 03:55 PM
 
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I had long term assignments in first grade. One class I really got attached to 14 boys and 8 girls. They were also a bilingual class and I'm not bilingual. I had so much fun with them. They were not an easy class. I did a lot of in class projects, not really be part of first grade curriculum,but for me it was important and they seemed to look forward to this hour and half to do some art or project with them. They loved it. Christmas I took pictures and put them in an ornament we made in class. I tried not to spend money. I know that it is easy to want to make them happy, but we are their teachers. These kids are now 3rd grade, and have moved on. So, spending money if you have the extra cash, but the schools really provide bare bones. I read that 85 to 90 percent of our district budget goes to salary's, as tax payer that is wrong.
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I had no idea that so many teachers
Old 05-29-2020, 06:18 AM
 
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Spent so much money on gifts for their students. I admire that, but it’s another way that public schools have set a precedent of giving too much (beyond education) to kids and parents and have now created a monster of unrealistic, ever-increasing expectations.

Speaking only from my experience, the more the public are given by schools, the more they expect and feel entitled to, and the more they treat teachers like common rubes meant to accommodate their every desire. Giving more doesn’t lead to gratitude from the public.
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Old 05-29-2020, 01:07 PM
 
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Too many teachers are "show boating" each other. I too spent too much through the years.
We had a "teacher store" some 35-40 miles from us. Many teacher bragged about how much they spent like the largest amount told who was the more delicated, who was the better, teacher. Some teachers donated personal time to prove their dedication on top of that.

It was EXPECTED. I even had the words in my first evaluation that I lacked personal committment in terms of spending my personal money to purchase items in my classroom - therefore I did not meet district standards. I grieved that. The words were covered with the brush of 'white out, " but the marks on the evaluation that I did not meet district's standards stayed as is, but without an explanation to why or how I could improve. And I never took or saw evaluations as tools to improve my craft in my career after that.

But I learned to SPEND MONEY. The next year I spent money on my room and I met district standards. Shoot, I excelled meeting all district standards the very next year and every year after.

I was selective in terms of what I purchased. It had to have a very long life, made of wood. I retired this year and so far, I have sold quite a few of the items, and I think - of what I have sold, I am ahead of what I originally spent on the items 25 years ago. I have not sold my loft, that one item might put me in the hole or I might have a loft set up in my basement until I die and it's becomes someone else's problem.

Today was my official last day. I have entered "retirement."

I do regret playing the game, just to get glowing evaluations and praises from the administration, the parents, and the kids. My garage is full - waiting for me to organize a "teacher garage sale." I think of all the money spent and me sacrificing my own personal wants for my own home & family, and the "TIME" put into it.

Somehow be sure to find a balance. Years after you've spent that, those kids/parents don't remember it any how. And a few kids can not even remember who their early childhood teachers were, don't even recognize their teachers' names.
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Old 05-29-2020, 11:35 PM
 
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Twenty years in. You are spot on. I try to buy less and less each year. For the most part, students and parents don't appreciate it anyway.
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Old 06-14-2020, 06:02 PM
 
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I am a future teacher and I just want to thank you for this advice. I am 100% a people pleaser, and there is no doubt that I have great plans to deck out my classroom and reward my students as much as possible to make them feel good. Although, this sounds exciting and worth the money, you are so right. For how little teachers make, there is no way that one can afford showering their students with gifts out of their own pocket! Thank you so much for this advice.
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