Making it Back to School: Shopping and Preparation Tips for Teachers

It’s like clock work; every year the sales on supplies and clothing consumes just about everyone within ear shot. These sales never lack variety either. Sales range from 1 cent pencil cases to 25 cent mini staplers and more. However, the sales for furniture and practical, organization items often seem to linger behind the Back to School haze. Thus, teachers are left wondering how to build that welcoming classroom on a tight budget. With so many options available, knowing what to choose and- more importantly- how to choose can mean the difference between shopping smarter and simply shopping harder.

If you have been to a classroom in the last 5 years, one thing seems common; there simply isn’t enough space for everything and everyone in a classroom. Therefore, it is imperative that space is used effectively and efficiently. The best way to conquer this feat is to prepare before you shop. Most school campuses will allow teachers to view their rooms, even before you set the room up. What many teachers fail to do is creating a plan for the room, before setting anything up. A great way of avoiding this pitfall is to bring a disposable or digital camera with you, when you view your room. Take photos of every wall and the entire space. Doing so allows you to see your space and have a visual shop from.

Another creative way of obtaining the same kind of visual is to draw a map of your room. Drawing a map has many valuable benefits. For example, the drawing creates a visual shopping aid that can also double as a tool for students in the room. A lot of what teachers do during the first weeks of school, centers around making students accustomed to their new school homes. Having a layout of your room to hand to students, aids in teaching them how to find things within the class and helps in learning procedures for the room too! When creating your layout, remember to pay special attention to the location of socket plus, light fixtures and data ports. Once you have obtained your visual- either by photographing, drawing or some combination of both- you are more able to shop.

Unfortunately, the most well intentioned teacher can still have shopping pitfalls without further investigation. So, more research about your needs is needed. Talk with your principal and/ or school staff about what the school typically gives its teachers. Secretaries are the most helpful during this time, as they are normally the people in charge of issuing supplies. Once you have a list of things that your school will provide, think to yourself about what you will need for your room. If you are stuck, look up the article, “The Teacher’s Checklist” on Associated Content. This list will help you to narrow down things that should definitely be in your room. Finally, view other teachers’ room and notice what they use and how they use different items. Once all of the above steps are completed, you are ready to shop.

First thing’s first, don’t go Sales Ad crazy! As a matter of fact, ignore the sales papers for a little while and start within your building. There are almost always teachers who are leaving your school, leaving the profession or changing rooms, who will want to unload some of their furniture. Take it! This is the best place to get book shelves, cabinets and seating for your room. After all, why buy more than you have to?

Also, check the local paper for garage sale ads. Back to School time is the best time to look for garage sales, as many college students are going to school and their parents need extra money, or they are graduating from school, and want to unload their old furniture. Either way, a garage sale offers a plethora of savings and a wealth of great buys!

After scrimmaging around garage sales, the sales ads are a safe bet. However, shop mostly from the dorm essentials and college furniture sections. These places offer the cheapest and most efficient furniture. Dorm Essentials generally focus on furniture that is foldable and space effective. Likewise, this is the best place to shop for organizers too. Dorm organizers are cheaper and they tend to be wall mountable or stackable on the floor. The benefit in this- though somewhat self- explanatory- is again effective and efficient use of space. Using your walls for storage eliminates the need to decorate incessantly and gives you added space for a more comfortable and roomy room. Moreover, organizers that stack on the floor, don’t take up must space and add surfaces that can be used for additional desk/ table areas.

Last, but certainly not least, shop with a purpose and goal in mind. Don’t shop without a budget in place. Shopping blindly only creates more of a hassle because you use more money and you end up with far too much stuff in your room. Use your plan to build your class from the walls inward. Set a monetary boundary on all necessary items and stick to it. Trust me, your kids and you will be much happier in the long run!

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