Teachers are always looking for ways to save money for their classrooms. We all know how much teachers invest out of their own pockets for their students—and how much they get paid. So, if there's any way that they can save a few dollars here and there, they should take advantage.
There are two approaches to saving money in the classroom: the first is to stop spending money on some things, while the second is to spend less on the things that are truly needed. Some districts and administers may balk at the premise of this article. And while I hope that a teacher has everything that they need provided by the district, this is just not the reality in many places. Right or wrong, many teachers spend their own paychecks in their classrooms.
If there are ways that teachers can be more frugal, it is a good thing. Here are some money-savings methods teachers may not have thought about before:
- Donation tree: This can be a school-wide or a class-wide idea, and a great way to have parents and patrons support your classroom. The concept is pretty simple: write the name of an item on a clever display (leaves on a tree for fall, ornaments on a Christmas tree for winter, etc.). The items should vary in expense so that someone can take a smaller item while someone else can opt to take something a little bigger. This takes some setting up, but can be a great way to gather supplies for free. Keep in mind that it might take a while for these to come in, so if there is an urgency to getting certain items, this option might not be the best bet.
- GoFundMe and #CompleteTheList: Along those same lines, another idea is to ask others (even strangers) online to support your classroom. GoFundMe projects are super easy to get set up and can be funded by anyone around the world. The other trending tool this year is the completion of teacher wish lists on Amazon by others. This is similar to the donation tree, but on a much broader scale.
- Use technology if it's available: This doesn’t seem like an earth-shattering concept, but technology really can help teachers save money in their classroom. If printer labels are available, teachers could print their own stickers for free (it takes some knowhow, but is 100% customizable). Teachers can also use a scrolling PowerPoint presentation in the place of posters on the wall, use the classroom computer to stream music, or organize charts on the interactive flat panel display at the front of the room. All of these could save buying something here or there—and that can really add up in the end.
- Limit Teachers Pay Teachers: I know this is hard! There is such great stuff on there and it all matches and looks good. I have seen multiple teachers spend money on TPT only to change preps or grade levels soon after. Where do all the downloads go then? Keep in mind the investment that is taking place as you order things to make sure every dollar counts.
- Keep the walls clean: There is some current research that warns against cluttering walls in a classroom. As always, the research is more nuanced than just a simple conclusion, but it is something to consider. Maybe teachers can help students and save money by not covering their classroom walls from top to bottom. Keep in mind that only the most essential items need to be displayed on the walls. Classrooms should have walls that teach— displays on the walls that are used for instruction, not just for creative decoration.
In the end, these might be overly simplistic ideas depending on the classroom. Teachers have to live in their classrooms, spending more time there than at their own home many days. I completely understand the desire to have classroom space that's organized, functional, beautiful, and engaging. At the same time, it is easy to go overboard. Hopefully these ideas are enough for teachers to find a way to save a dollar or two. As educations, we all know that every penny counts!
Interested in taking school dollars even further? Browse through our funding guides to get the tech, software, and resources you need and want for your classroom.