It is Teacher Appreciation Week! Teachers are arguably the hardest-working, most underpaid professionals in America. Not only are they responsible for educating your children, they even help shape their characters by building confidence, teaching good morals, helping them learn to share with others, providing leadership roles, and teachers find ways to let kids express their feelings. Even if they have a classroom of 30 4th graders, educators try to give each student enough individual attention to make sure their emotional and academic needs are being met. It is a tough job.
According to ‘Business Insider’, the average salary of an elementary school teacher in America is around 55K, before taxes. Other industries that pay around 55K a year include flatbed truck drivers, phone sales, and retail—all positions that require zero college. Now consider a teacher who had to invest multiple thousands to get a Bachelor’s degree, a Master’s degree, and spend hundreds of hours shadowing veteran teachers in classrooms only so they can earn little money by partially raising your child, tip-toeing around turbulent politics, educating your children for their future, and (sadly) deal with kids who are abused and neglected. Simple fact: they should be paid more.
Most teachers have to provide for their own teaching supplies. In an article by ‘The Journal’, teacher verification provider SheerID and Agile Education Marketing conducted a survey in which K-12 teachers were asked to report their classroom spending habits, and they found the average teacher spent $500 a year of their own money to pay for things ranging from writing supplies, educational materials, printing supplies, and fun items to reward kids for good performance.
Use Remanufactured Ink Cartridges
Ink cartridges are expensive, and teachers go through them like bottled water. By using an online discount ink cartridge company like 1ink.com, people can save up to 85 percent off ink and toner cartridges (depending on the product), with an average savings of 60 percent per customer. Make sure the company you use for your printer ink offers the following:
- An additional discount to teachers
- Free shipping (terms may apply)
- A money-back guarantee
- A full year warranty with a minimum of one year
- Is well established in the industry
- Offers only high quality cartridges designed to perform like the big brands
Making the switch over to remanufactured ink cartridges can save the average teacher around $500 a year—a savings that already makes up for the average amount teachers spend on supplies across the country. While some school districts cover things like printer ink and paper, others do not, which makes this one of the best cost-saving practices a teacher can adopt.
Finding donors to help fund your classroom can pay off big. There are a few ways you can go about doing this:
- Adoptaclassroom.org – This is a resource where teachers can register their classroom through a user-profile in which they highlight their challenges and demonstrate a real need for support. According to the website, Adopt a Classroom gets 10,000 weekly visitors.
- Use Kickstarter. Kickstarter is a website where people can donate money to individuals trying to raise funds to accomplish a certain task, be it to pay for a family member’s funeral costs or to send a sick child to Disneyland. In 2014 a user earned over 55K (what the average teacher salary in America is) on Kickstarter because he wanted to make potato salad. Simply register an account, set a goal target you hope to raise, explain how the funds will be used, and promote it on Social Media.
- Create a Website. Build a website focused on your classroom and use it as a platform to write teaching blogs to be shared with other, more popular sites with thousands of visitors a day. In your author bio state you are trying to raise funds for your classroom, and create a donation page. WordPress is free and by far the best platform for building a website because it is pre-indexed to be crawled by Google bots. It will cost about $50 to buy and register your domain, another $40 (average) to buy a website theme (the way the site responds) and if you are too busy to watch YouTube tutorials to learn how to build the site yourself, look for an inexpensive web developer and SEO professional who gives generous discounts to teachers.
Tell a Story to Gain Sponsors
Now you need to go above and beyond what everyone else is doing in their quest to gain sponsorship. You will need create content that allows readers to have an emotional response to what they are reading. Start be getting the reader’s attention. Then use the narrative approach to tell a story about your classroom. This will bring it, and your students to life. Tell a story about how one of the kids was able to succeed due support from a previous donation. You can also showcase a struggling child. What is life like for these kids? Why do they love you as their teacher? What do they love about school? What are their dreams? Here is an example of something you could write that would make you stand out:
I am going to be the first man on Mars. These were the first words I was greeted with when I arrived at my 2nd grade classroom an hour before school started, but for me it was starting now. Jason is the youngest of three kids in a home run by a single mother working two jobs. On some days when his grandmother is unable to watch him, Jason’s mother drops him off at school on her way to work. Jason comes from a loving home, but one that struggles to put food on the table every day. In the mornings he escapes into books about space, NASA, and rocket ships. He has successfully memorized all the planets, the components and parts of a space shuttle, and the types of space vehicles used today. I unlocked the door and we went inside where Jason collapsed onto his favorite red bean bag and started flipping through a large picture book on the planets. “Miss Walker”, he said with large sincere eyes, “one day I am going to go to the Air Force, and train to become a test pilot, and get into NASA, and go to Mars”. I want nothing more than to see kids like Jason achieve their dreams. But Jason has a hard time with math—a subject he will need to master is he ever wants to be an astronaut. Jason is currently a good four months behind the other kids, and I can only spend so much time after school to help him, as I have a 3-year-old daughter in daycare. I am confident that if I worked with Jason one hour every other day after school, he could catch up and understand the subjects. But the books I need come in a set that is very expensive. There are many more kids like Jason in my class who have special needs, and I rely on support from donors just like you to help make their dreams reach the stars.
Here we have content that is informative, introduces the teacher’s and student’s needs, catches the reader’s attention, isn’t too long, and most of all it has emotional human elements that people can relate to or empathize with. All content you write aimed at gaining sponsorship should strive to be like this, versus your cookie-cutter advert that pleads “please give”.
Hold a Fundraiser
Hold a fundraiser to raise money for classroom supplies. The best way to do this is to get the kids involved and make the event a part of their learning experience. You can hold it on a school-day where kids from other classes and their parents visit, but this would require consent from administrators. Holding the event on a Saturday is also an option, so long as enough parents are on board.
You can divide your students into teams and have them create a game that other kids can play to win candy or other inexpensive prizes. Not only will this directly involve your students in the nurturing of their classroom, they will be able to get creative, enhance their teamwork skills, learn introductory marketing skills, and they will have a lot of fun! Other activities your students can do is read to younger children, perform face-painting, and you can ask parents to donate home-baked goods to help reach your fundraising goal.
You can also hold a raffle and sell a limitless number of tickets. Do a little online research to see which companies support educational charities. For example, Microsoft is notorious for donating millions a year to help advance education. By submitting a well-written proposal to companies like Microsoft outlining what it is you do in the classroom that supports their mission statement, and by detailing the fine points of your fundraiser, you could ask them to donate a tablet or two to raffle off. If you can find a journalist willing to cover a story on a successful donation, companies might be more motivated to select your project because they will get the PR in return.
A Penny Saved is a Penny Earned?
In this case, absolutely! If you can keep $500 a year from being spent on classroom supplies, you can use that cash to pay for your airfare on your next, much-needed vacation. You encourage your students to think outside the box and get creative; now it’s your turn!