by Kathleen Carpenter, Contributing Editor
Survey Says Teachers Feel Compelled to Hoard Supplies
"We don't hoard because we're greedy or wasteful, but because we want to be prepared."
"It frustrates me to no end. I am responsible for teaching my kids but do not always have what I need to do the job."
"When it causes me stress because I can't get a 99 cent marker, something is wrong with the picture."
They're often accused of it, but how common it is for teachers to hoard materials, and when they hoard, why do they do so? In a recent Teachers.Net survey teachers were asked: Do you feel it necessary to hoard classroom supplies? Why or why not? Dozens of responses flowed in, many in the form of "venting." Some related having to justify to office or custodial staff requests for basic supplies. Many teachers reported that they buy necessary supplies because they are in short supply or denied to them. In some schools, teachers reportedly have to cultivate relationships to "get on the good side" of the person in control of access to the supply closet.
Following is a representative sample of teachers' posts and comments:
Call me a pack rat! Posted by JUM
Yes, everyone in my building hoards. Our central supply is located in the high school and none of us have ever seen it. Once a month we are allowed to requisition items. However, the Scrooge who controls it always crosses out what we need and sends us less. This is why we must hoard. One year I ordered 24 pencils and erasers...one for each student...he actually crossed out 24 and wrote 12!! Did he really expect my students to share a pencil and eraser? I had to call him and argue for the remaining 12 pencils.
Each month I request 5 glue bottles until I get 25...this way I will have enough for next year...because I would never get 25 all at once
I had to request 5 pairs of scissors per month to get scissors for all my kids...he wouldn't send me enough for all (I already had scissors, but they didn't even cut paper they were those old metal ones....word had it that supply had the really nice Fiskars scissors...so this is how I got enough for my class)
Each month I request 2 boxes of 12 pencils (I do get them now)...this means I have 24 pencils each month, but only 18 students
I wanted to have 2 staplers and 2 tape dispensers...one for me and one for the kids in the Art Center....he wouldn't send me any since I had one each already....so each month I asked for a different one and said mine were broken...he asked for the broken ones back, but I said I threw each away. It worked! Yes, I lied, but I was told by the others to beg, borrow and steal when you could!
I guess you get the idea....I just request extra or only a few of the whole lot of what I need at a time.
What supplies??? I teach in a parochial school LOL! Posted by anon.
At the end of the year we request all the supplies we need for the next year. This includes writing paper and art paper. Most of the time we get what we've ordered but if we figured wrong, chances are you won't get any more. I have several different cabinets that my wonderful hubby has built for me to store these things in.
I don't hoard - for these reasons. Posted by Mary
I don't hoard for several reasons:
- Lack of storage space
- Fear of getting caught
- Difficult to do because we have to fill out a form requesting everything we need
- The stuff is all locked up in a place nobody knows about
- When requesting supplies, I am allotted about $10.00 per student per year, how much room does that make for hoarding?
- Many of the items I need I buy out of my own pocket and I can't afford to buy things that I don't need right now.
I have tried to keep one step ahead on essentials like crayons, markers, and drawing paper because I need them on the first day of school and our orders often don't come in until after school has been in session for a few weeks or more.
Why are supplies so closely guarded? I think that some principals are believers in the old saying. "The one who dies with the most stuff, wins!" Not really, I think that it's a fear that the next budget will be severely cut and there will not be enough to supply classrooms in even a most meager manner.
Our closet is locked. A year's supply of toilet paper missing. Posted by sue
We have no access to the supply closet at all. At the beginning of the year each teachers are given their own ziploc bags. We are issued paper clips, a stapler, staples, several boxes of chalk, an eraser, a roll book, a few black and red pens, push pins for bulletin boards, and a box of bandaids. Sentence strips and chart paper are given to us as needed by the A.P.. We are given 1 case of xerox paper per semester. The rest is up to us to supply.
I would not recommend allowing free access to the supply closet at our school. We have a problem with the custodial staff. Last year all the toilet paper for the year and a vcr from my room was stolen! Having the supplies locked up makes sure the teachers who really need the materials can get them.
Happy to hear I'm not the only one! posted by Cynthia
It's refreshing to know that other people have a supply problem too. Last year, among the paltry supplies given out, my school issued 1 ream of paper and 3 white board markers to each teacher, and we were not allowed to get more until the end of the semester. Boy did we hoard! Oh yes, and only elementary teachers could request colored paper! This year supplies are a lot better, but the school does not replenish its supplies until they've completely run out of an item. We fill out a form at the beginning of the semester, and after that, stocks of most things will be sketchy. You can request more during the year, but if they happen to be out of the item, you may never get it. When new stocks are in you must resubmit a request. We all keep our ears and eyes open so we can learn when new stocks come in and get what we've been waiting for before they run out again.
This year paper clips seem to be the item that is always in short supply. To compound the problem, every time I send materials to the Xerox room, (which is the same office that handles supplies!) I have them neatly paper-clipped together, but they always come back without the paper clip!
At my previous school we calculated a department budget and ordered and stored our own supplies. We used an open supply room policy among the 10 people in our department, and no one hoarded, everyone got all the supplies they requested and we never went over the budget. We don't hoard because we're greedy or wasteful, but because we want to be prepared.
There's nothing to hoard. I spent $2000 out of pocket last year. Posted by Syrena
I do not hoard supplies because there is nothing to hoard. Each year we are allowed approx. $300 to buy EVERYTHING we need for the following year, from paper clips and copy paper to manipulatives, writing paper, readers and workbooks if needed. Last year I spent $2000 out of my own pocket because I was new to the building and they added 2 new 1st grade classes, I had nothing (I think I have come close to that amount this year too). We have to count every sheet of paper we use and when our allotment is gone we get no more, same with paper clips, pencils, glue, anything we need. There is no supply closet, no refills, no nothing, if your $300 doesn't cover it too bad! It frustrates me to no end. I am responsible for teaching my kids but do not always have what I need to do the job. I feel that teachers are professionals, we put a lot of time and effort into our profession. I would like to be given the tools necessary to do my job and given the same trust, respect, and courtesy afforded any professional. Unlock the doors and trust!
If we do favors for the office clerk, we get "extras" thrown in. Posted by Celeste
We have a "supply closet" for basic teacher and office-type supplies (permanent markers, index cards, staples, paper clips, etc.), but we must fill out a request for what we want and the office clerk will get the items together. I have found out that if you are on her good side, or have done favors for her, she throws in a few "extras" when you request supplies. I don't complain! We have a copy limit of 1500 sheets of paper a month (per teacher), which sounds like a lot, but we do run close to that number often. I have bought my own case of paper to use when I reach my limit. Running off class newsletters, daily homework, make-and-take booklets, reading logs, etc. really eats up the paper. Any other supplies (glue, construction paper, crayons, games, resource books, Weekly Readers, etc.) that are not textbooks are bought by each classroom teacher out of instructional money. This year, each teacher in our school lost $150 of instructional money due to budget cuts, so we had only $100 per classroom to spend. I do keep a good supply of construction paper, glue, etc. on hand for just that reason. At the end of the year, if there is instructional money left over, our bookkeeper will order scissors, construction paper, glue, and crayons and divide it up throughout the school. When we return in late July, there is a little supply "present" waiting for us in our room!
The "Book Nazi" guards our supply closet, known as "Fort Knox." Posted by Paula
We have a closet that is "affectionately" known as "FORT KNOX". We teachers cannot go into it. It holds curriculum books, toner for the copier, and other "precious" items.
The "Book Nazi" as we call her, and she knows we call her this... is in "control" of dry erase markers, overhead markers and dry erase board cleaner. We have to ask very kindly to have even one... And then, we sometimes are told, "Didn't you just get one from me a month ago?" It is a shame that we have to explain ourselves to a secretary about what we are teaching and why we need a specific item or items. We are professionals. It is not like I have this closet full of dry erase markers that are never used. I won't even get into the situation that arose when I asked for ONE felt tip pen! (After 2 weeks of run-around, I still never got one!)
We do have open access to tape, staples, chalk, paper clips, construction paper, copy paper. Although, I do hoard the transparent tape, because we tend to run out of that by April.
Oh, I could go on. It is so interesting that the problem is so wide spread. I realize that supplies cost money and it is done to help cut costs, but I am sorry, when it causes me stress because I can't get a 99 cent marker, something is wrong with the picture.
I have solved a bit of my problem by having my sisters, who work for a large corporation, bring home supplies for me. It is amazing what they throw away! They sent our school 500 reams of paper, because the company logo changed and they were going to toss the paper... (The one side was blank and the other only had a small logo on the foot of the page.) They also got rid of tons of pens, markers, binders, and other things that had the "old logo" and they sent it to us.
The moral of this story: Beg businesses for their "garbage", because we have gotten a lot of great stuff! (There are some wonderful parents who bring in boxes of supplies about once a month. It is like "Christmas" for the teachers.)
Not yet, but I'm learning. Posted by Melissa
Oh, I know there are teachers who do this in our school. Everything from construction paper, thermals, report cards and crayons. I am a slow-learner...but think that I too shall start doing this. We have limited access to our supply room...it is locked and only the office people have the key.
When you ask for supplies you are to fill out a list and place it in a basket and you later pick them up when your request has been filled. Sometimes this is not sufficient as I get requested supplies after I needed them in class. :P The one item that I NEED and am obnoxiously limited to is crayons. We only get crayons twice a year (at the beginning and when we return from Christmas break). Anyone who teaches 1st knows this is insane. I end up paying out of my pocket for crayons. This is a bad topic, I could really go off on . ;) My biggest pet peeve is the copy machine. We have one in the office for teachers...but you cannot make class sets on it...you may only make 3 copies of each original. If you want copies you have to turn it into a basket and even then sometimes you are denied...though they do seem to run off my homework. We are encouraged to use the duplicator machine (which I absolutely despise) (they had these back when I was in elementary school!) so I have a copy-key account at MBE (which again I pay for out of my own pocket). Another teacher at my school has purchased a used copy machine which she put in her classroom and uses during the day.
I am so tired of hearing about teacher accountability when teachers cannot even have access to supplies, copy machines and other necessary items that enable us to do our jobs. Thanks for letting me vent!