How is it already August?! Many of us are buzzing with visions of the perfect learning environments for our classrooms this year. Others might be desperate for crucial supplies. And some teachers are thinking, “Um, I could use both!”
On one hand, we know our classrooms need student essentials to operate smoothly and efficiently. But does that mean we can’t ask for colorful rugs or fun touches for a room we’ll spend over 1,440 hours in this school year alone?
A teacher on Reddit explores just that with this question:
“Just be careful what you put on there. Our profession is in the toilet and some of these lists aren’t focused as much on school needs as they are on decor. It’s just not practical to have a bunch of unwashable, furry white throw pillows in a room full of 6-year-olds. And salt lamps and wax melts and lawn chairs and literal wallpaper and a bunch of plastic plants and painted wood signs. I have a cousin who just started teaching. My wealthy aunt said she’d happily pick up supplies at Walmart for the whole class, but she will not buy her a $120 zebra rug to match the zoo theme! My principal said the district prefers we not post lists on any socials connected to the school.
“Ask for what you want. I don’t really care, but you should know we might get nothing pretty soon if people keep asking for Homegoods crap.”
Wow! Where I’m from, we might say, “Them’s fightin’ words.” Not surprisingly, we saw all kinds of responses populate on the thread. Let’s dive in!
Yes, it’s OK to ask for non-essentials because …
My district blocks other options
“Don’t use Donors Choose! Then people will know how criminally we underfund our schools!”
My students’ parents can afford it
This teacher makes a good point!
Room parents can get the non-essentials
“Usually the room mom will just buy the stuff.” We are envious!
Student deodorant is ESSENTIAL
I mean, I can sniff out a few students who need the luxurious deodorant, am I right?
We will use it!
We wouldn’t be asking for the items unless they were going to be used, right?
Learning environments are EXPENSIVE!
Yikes! Do you see that dollar amount?
Other teachers understand
If anyone is going to empathize with us on the fun items, it’s going to be a veteran teacher wanting to pay it forward.
It wouldn’t be on the list unless we needed it
I think this is a great example of a non-essential that is essential!
No, wish lists should be used for essentials only because …
We can approach companies for direct donations for their tax write-offs
Maybe we don’t have to put fun items on our wish lists if we reach out to companies to make donations?
We can find the items much cheaper at a thrift store!
Yeah, this is a pretty great idea to do instead!
There are Buy Nothing groups happy to help
Head to your local Facebook Buy Nothing group to get some fun games and toys for your classroom!
Fun decor could be an asthma trigger
This teacher makes the point that maybe we shouldn’t have too many fun decor items because they could affect kids’ asthma.
Will administration replace expensive decor that’s lost or ruined?
It happened in this case, but do they always?
It’s inconsiderate toward families
This U.K. teacher has this U.S. phrase exactly right in this instance!
Some of it isn’t conducive to learning
This Reddit teacher mentioned “studies,” so of course my ears perked up. This study in a reputable journal found young children become distracted by highly stimulating environments. Huh!
Trendy classrooms are not sustainable
“Pinterest teaching” and teaching to classroom walls? Maybe kiddos don’t need anything fancy to learn in the classroom. That makes sense!
Decor doesn’t belong on wish lists. Period.
This kindergarten teacher summarizes the fine line between the two nicely!
Considering these opposing views, the question still lingers: Does fun decor truly belong on teacher wish lists? For those that struggle with funding, the support from colleagues, companies, or veteran teachers becomes a lifeline for their dream learning environments. However, some teachers believe only sticking to the necessities is the way to go.
As always in education, there is no one-size-fits-all answer to this divide. But our ultimate goal remains the same: to provide a safe, engaging, and nurturing space where our students can flourish.