The list of school supplies are lengthier for teachers and students this year
No matter how your community schools are responding to COVID-19, learning will look different this year — and so will the list of needed school supplies.
Some schools are inviting students to come back to the classroom full time, while others are taking 100 percent of their lessons online. But both models will require more supplies than previous years, from personal-protective gear to more digital devices. Now, there’s a nationwide push to help equip educators and students with what they need to stay safe and create a viable learning environment.
Teachers are creating wish lists on sites like Amazon and Donors Choose with items they need for the classroom. The wish lists include personal-protective supplies like masks, gloves and hand sanitizer. But teachers are also requesting classroom basics like markers, crayons, scissors and other items that would typically be shared among several students. But, amid a global pandemic, sharing supplies among students is discouraged.
Emily Torgerson, who teaches special education for 3-5-year-olds near Minneapolis, said she and other teachers typically dedicate $500 to $600 of their paycheck to classroom supplies.
“Every year, teachers pay for their own stuff to help out families in need who can’t or don’t bring school supplies. And many teachers pool their supplies so we can all share it between classrooms. But this year, we can’t share supplies. So we’re looking at needing much more.”
Preparing for a new (different) school year
Torgerson’s Amazon wish list reflects just how different she expects this school year to be. It includes 30 “Line ‘Em Up Spots,” that she plans to stick to students’ tables to indicate each student’s spot at least 6 feet apart.
“I included those to help spread kids out, but I am under the assumption that it probably won’t work. For kids this young, 3, 4, and 5 years old, we don’t have expectations that our students are going to social distance.”
A generous donor already fulfilled one of Torgerson’s most needed wish list items: a clear mask. “That meant a lot because it keeps me safe and keeps the learning going,” Torgerson said. “Students can see me smile and see how my lips move when I’m talking to them. Since I’m teaching special education to young kids, communication is a big thing. If students can’t see how the lips are forming on the lips they’re not going to learn.”
Her wish list also includes several books for her classroom library that celebrate diversity and teach social emotional skills. Her school library is stocked with books that cover such topics, but they’re geared toward older kids.
“With everything that’s happened across the nation, I’m really trying to be intentional about teaching my students inclusiveness, and how our differences are actually good and we should be celebrating them,” she said. “But my school district, especially this year, just doesn’t have the funding for that. They are spending more money on cleaning supplies and hiring extra teachers. And that’s really good. But we still need to be looking at what we need to teach kids in 2020. These lessons need to start young or the cycle continues.”
Let’s all chip in to ‘ClearTheList’
People around the nation are answering educators’ calls for help — and we at Artistic Fuel are joining them.
Courtney Jones, an elementary school teacher based in Houston, Texas, founded the ClearTheList Foundation to help funnel donation dollars to cover educators’ supply lists. On the site, she says, “The educating of young minds deserves the best that we have to offer. I created the #ClearTheList movement to encourage people to pay it forward, impact the learning of students, and make tomorrow a better future.”
DonorsChoose is another resource for educators in need of supplies, and those looking to help. The site, founded in 2000, allows interested donors to search specific projects, teachers or schools — say their neighborhood school — to support.
Through social media, people are also nominating celebrities and influencers to use their platform to shine a spotlight on the need and encourage people to fulfill teachers’ wish lists.
Sean O’Donnell, co-founder of Artistic Fuel, said several people reached out to him requesting he share educators’ wish lists with his 1 million followers on Instagram. “I think this is a great thing — it’s fantastic. But I wanted to take it a step further,” he said.
So today, Aug. 5, he and the rest of the team at Artistic Fuel are fulfilling several teachers’ wish lists.
“If we can make it possible for some students to be able to finger paint that otherwise wouldn’t be able to due to the current situation, then it’s a good day,” O’Donnell said. “We want you to get involved as well. If you can, buy a box of crayons for a classroom to make life a little bit easier for some of these teachers and educators. Let’s alleviate some of their stress.”
Find the right avenue for you to give:
- TeacherLists.com – Donors can find and fulfill school supply lists; educators can upload their wish lists.
- Amazon.com – Educators can create a wish list; interested donors can search and find a specific list.
- AdoptAClassroom.org – The site connects interested donors with specific teachers’ and schools’ supply lists.
- DonorsChoose.org – Teachers can upload wish lists and proposed projects that need funding; donors can find and support specific teachers, projects, or schools.
- ClearTheListFoundation.org – The site offers a quick, easy way to donate; donations are funneled to teachers requesting supplies.
- There are other ways to give. Find the right one for you to help students wherever you live.
Journalist and author Danielle Nadler grew up in South Dakota, where a patient writing teacher fostered in her a love for stories told well. She's worked for newspapers in the Midwest, on the West Coast and the East Coast, and recently launched a storytelling company called Tales and Ales.