Money Saving Tips For Teachers

Do you find yourself spending loads of money on your classroom every year? I know I spend way more than I should. It's really hard not to... but I am trying! The Weekend Warriors are here this month with ideas to help you save your hard earned cash with some money saving tips and tricks! 

 I am here to share a few things that have helped me keep some money in my piggy bank! 

Things that are used by students on a daily basis like notebooks, crayons, pencils and dry erase markers are always included on my suggested supply list

At open house, I have an area set up with requests for donations for other items for projects, housekeeping and organization. Things like paper plates and napkins for celebrations are all donated by families.

When I know something will be needed for an upcoming activity or science experiment, donation requests are put in my classroom newsletter

 Some really wise person once told me this...

 Even places like Home Depot will donate free supplies for school projects.
I always ask!

Whether you are at the checkout counter, calling around for quotes or making reservations, a great question is...
Do you offer a teacher discount???

Often discounts are available for technology, travel, auto insurance, hotel stays, attractions and so on. MEA and NEA benefits are something I need to take a closer look at.

 More money in our pockets from other expenses means more that can be set aside for the classroom! 

 I used to be the queen of impulse buying. I have so many things that I purchased for my classroom because I wanted them so badly at the time and they ended up being rarely or never used.

 I'm pretty sure a lot of you can relate to this funny:

So true!!! Target is a dangerous place for me! If I want to save money, I steer clear of that store!
When it comes to spending money on the classroom I ask myself these questions:
  • Will this item make me a more effective or efficient teacher?
  • Will it help my students?
  • Will I use it often?
  • Do I REALLY need it or is there something else I can use instead?

 If the answer is no to one of these, I just don't buy it, or I say goodbye to the item and turn around to return it!

The rule of 24 hours is working for me too. When I do online shopping for instance, I add things to my cart and then I wait. If I want or need it badly enough, I go back THE NEXT DAY to place the order. Many times I abandon my cart, forget about it altogether and just do without. If impulse buying often gets the best of you too, give it a try. I swear it works!

Sales are the way to go! I always wait for the back to school sales ads and free shipping offers from Really Good Stuff, Creative Teaching Press and Lakeshore catalogs. 

I don't spend money on fancy lesson planners even though they make me swoon. The reality is that I'm sure they don't make planning any less of a chore!!! I use the freebie Lakeshore offers with purchase and add a cute cover of my own!

Any time I shop online for ANY purchase, I always search for PROMO CODES first. I recently found this one for my son's new cell phone case. I did a google search and typed the keywords Griffin phone case discount code.
 I saved five bucks!

Are you a garage saler? I never really shop them much, but I have participated in our annual neighborhood sale over the last few years. I'm telling you, the things I sold or have given away were like brand new! Garage sales do not necessarily mean old, used up junk. They are a great place to find some fun games and gently used toys for inside recess time too!

Do you print things and laminate at home? Do you buy your own paper, markers, etc. for home or classroom use? Consider saving money by using more of what is available to you during your work hours. Yes. School issued supplies... not Flair pens, Astrobright paper, Vera Bradley binder clips, colorful post-it notes and all of the other fun stuff we have grown to love so much. Did you gasp a little just now? I know it's hard to imagine what we teachers ever did without them!

 Well... I hope you got some good money saving tips here today. I am by no means an expert or role model on the subject, but I do give it a good effort! I am the first to admit that I spend a lot of money on my classroom. I can't say that I regret it. My classroom is my home away from home and I want it to be a happy place for my students. While I am trying, it is especially hard when temptations are everywhere. 

Doesn't everyone need a hedgehog pencil holder??? 

Hop on over to read more tips and tricks from the rest of the Warriors and link up your ideas too!

Must Have Monday Linky: Magnificent Magnets for Teachers!

Happy Monday everyone! Hope your weekend was super duper! Today I am linking up with the gals at Freebielicious to share one of my MUST HAVE school supplies! 

One thing I absolutely cannot live without are my magnets. Without a collection of magnetic items, my classroom would literally fall apart. Because nothing stays up on my cinder block walls, I use my whiteboards as display boards. These magnificent magnets are my favorite school supply!

 If you are doing some back to school shopping soon, you may want to add some mighty magnets to your list!

You can grab some magnificent magnets for your classroom here:

Magnetic Marker Cup
Magnetic Whiteboard Eraser
Magnet Men
Rare Earth Magnets
Painted Magnet Disks
Magnetic Sentence Strips
Sticky Back Round Magnets

What is your must-have supply for the classroom? Leave it in the comments below or head on over to Freebielicious to link up your post too! 

Seven Steps to Landing Your First Teaching Job

Hello teacher friends! Are you or someone you know looking for a teaching job? Can you believe that back in the early 90s it took a total of eight long years to finally land the public school teaching job I have now? Every summer, instead of relaxing, I was consumed in what I jokingly referred to as THE GREAT JOB SEARCH. But really, it was no laughing matter at all!!! 

Securing your future and finding your first teaching job is serious business. I am here today to share some words of wisdom and helpful tips that I give to my student teachers to help them land their first job. Some schools are beginning to hire NOW so I hope this will be a great starting place for new grads or those looking for a different teaching position.

It’s no secret that getting a teaching job can still be pretty tough, but great positions do exist and they are waiting for YOU!!! Here’s how to find them and make yourself stand out from the thousands that are actively applying!

Following these seven tips can help you secure the job you’ve always dreamed of!

Teaching is a profession unlike any other for the simple fact that you usually have one narrow window of opportunity each year to get a job or you are basically unemployed. You are beginning your great job search with realistic expectations but are hopeful anyway and you should be!

Even though the competition for teaching jobs is fierce, many districts are growing and many are hiring as a result of teacher retirements. Start your search looking in the district where you did your student teaching, but then move on by looking for school communities with new construction or in areas that have many veteran teachers employed. Most schools post their positions on their district website or via a portal so check them as often as you can. Apply EVERYWHERE for each position you find that you are qualified to teach, even if you think you don't stand a chance! Once you go through the application process- be ready!

When the time comes, it will be important to WOW interviewers with your experience, knowledge, positive personality, enthusiasm and your outstanding credentials. Create a fabulous resume and cover letter, gather up transcripts, certification documents, exam results, letters of recommendation, student work samples from your placements, a philosophy statement, creative lesson plans, photographs of your activities in action and anything else your university recommends that will help establish your qualifications.

Your portfolio can be your chance to SHINE so be sure it’s a masterpiece. Even though you may have spent countless hours putting it together, not every employer will ask for it or even care to see it. Consider a digital format or leave your portfolio behind for a few days so interviewers can browse through it at their leisure. Bring loose copies of your important papers and a few extra copies of your resume in a leather folder or a nice case. Often it is a team interview and they appreciate when you have enough copies for everyone present. 

Tip: Have your interview outfit planned and ready in advance if possible. When deciding what to wear, choose a professional looking outfit that makes you feel confident and fabulous! It should be something you can be comfortable in and be able to wear again. Think about what you might put on for an open house, conferences or an awards night and that would be perfectly acceptable interview attire. 

Good things are worth waiting for but that also means not waiting around for something to come your way. Starting each day with a “great job search” TO DO LIST is the best way to stay focused and be productive. Make a list of tasks you want to accomplish each day, whether it involves networking, viewing job postings, attending job fairs, or submitting applications.

Sometimes it is who you know that puts your application at the top of the stack. Keep in touch with teacher friends and administrators from your student teaching and field placements. When you get wind of a possible position, a good word on your behalf from a colleague might just open some doors. 

Tip: If you have a chance, hand-deliver your resume to administrators at schools nearby and introduce yourself. Some principals may discourage this, but others will appreciate your initiative. You may even be interviewed right on the spot!

Is it your dream job? Probably not…but substitute teaching enables you to stay connected with school administrators and fellow teachers, and offers perspective employers a glimpse of your teaching abilities. Being a guest teacher in a variety of classrooms will give you more insight as to how other teachers organize and structure their day and lessons. Adding subbing to your list of experiences also demonstrates that you are flexible, have a good handle on classroom management and that you are able to work with students of various ages.

If you do sub, leave a business card as a calling card. Many teachers have the ability to request their sub. Being a familiar face around a building is a great stepping stone to getting hired.

Tip: Collect ideas and activities you like from the classrooms you visit. Jot them down in a notebook or keep a hard copy for your files.

Teachers are lifelong learners so you will want to continue to develop your teaching skills and learn as much as possible about current best practices and successful strategies! While you wait to land that ideal job, attending professional development or seeking additional certifications will make you stand out as a candidate.

Tip: Learn all that you can (for free) from teachers you admire. Ask to sit in on a lesson every now and then. You can also read blogs and tutorials from teachers who share their experience and expertise.

You may have fallen in love with the district that is close to home or the one in which you did your student teaching, but try to be open to other options too. Certain states are aggressively recruiting teachers. Seek them out and be open and ready to relocate if necessary. 

Consider applying to a small private, religious or charter school. These positions typically pay less, but the experience you will gain is priceless! 

Tip: If you have the option to relocate, choose wisely because you may find yourself there for the length of your career.

The key to successful interviewing is to be confident and relaxed. Panel interviews are common so be mentally prepared to walk into a room with several teachers and administrators. Answer questions honestly and be genuine and sincere. If there is something you cannot answer, be truthful about it, but be sure to let interviewers know that you are resourceful and motivated to learn. When it comes down to choosing between equally qualified candidates, administrators often consider which person would be the best fit for their student population and staff. While speaking professionally, let your eyes sparkle and your personality shine!

Most school districts structure interview questions around specific topics—such as differentiated instruction, best practices, lesson planning, technology integration, and classroom management. Be ready to discuss them and be able to answer WHAT WOULD YOU DO IF…scenarios. Ask teacher friends who have interviewed recently which questions you might expect. Be prepared to demonstrate your teaching skills by presenting a lesson on the spot or at a follow-up interview. This practice has been growing in popularity with administrators.

Do your homework! Make sure you’re well-informed about the school and district where you’re interviewing. Research things like test scores, school ranking, per pupil funding, demographics, special needs programs, enrichment programs, extra-curricular activities, points of pride and level of parent involvement/support. It is also helpful to show familiarity with the local community and surrounding neighborhoods.

Tip: After each interview, get out a notebook and jot down the questions you were asked, especially those that may have been challenging to answer.  The next time you interview, you can reread them and think through your responses in advance. Yes! You may have several interviews if you are lucky! Always send a thank you letter. 

You didn’t get into teaching for the money of course—but having a job you enjoy that actually pays a decent wage would be nice. With the job market being somewhat saturated, often times, new graduates find themselves accepting positions that are a foot in the door so to speak. 

If you do not land your first teaching job right out of college, consider accepting a position as a substitute teacher, a paraprofessional, a tutor, a child care supervisor or the coach of one of the school’s teams or clubs. Volunteer in classrooms, at after school events or help out with special programs in your local school. Better yet, initiate the start of a NEW program!

 Out of sight sometimes means out of mind… so be visible as much as possible! Whatever you decide to do to make ends meet, be sure that you continue to work with children or young adults in some capacity. 

So... as you begin your job search for the upcoming school year, it is important to be prepared, be informed, be confident, be flexible, be focused, but be patient! Disappointments may happen along the way, but with determination, you will eventually land the job of your dreams!
Follow your heart and keep at it!

Take the Super Selfie Challenge!

 If you are at home reading this and feeling a little blue about missing the TPT conference in Vegas... or anything for that can join in the fun with all of us at-homers on the Primary Powers Facebook page. We're having a selfie challenge Wednesday through Friday. You can read more about it by clicking on the image below! 

Are you up for the challenge?
 I'd love to see your smiling face there!

Weekend Warriors:3-2-1 Teacher Bio {Linky}

Hey all my summer lovin' friends! Can you believe it's the end of June already? That means it's time for another Weekend Warrior linky party! This month we have a really great 3-2-1 theme planned! We hope you will read along and join in the fun! 

I've decided that I must be a REALLY complicated individual because I actually had to think hard to come up with things to list here! 

I wonder how much we have in common...
Here we go... 

1. After 25 years in the classroom, the teacher me still feels like a brand new teacher every year for lots of reasons. I like to try out new things. I reflect on what works (and what bombed out) and I make changes. Maybe too many sometimes! I also like to continue to learn through reading blogs, books on best practices and by searching for new ideas on Pinterest. 

2. I guess you could say that I'm a pretty serious teacher. In the classroom, I run a tight ship. I have very high expectations for work quality, behavior and attentive listening. I have perfected "the teacher look" and my students know that I mean business. But on the flip side, my students would say that I am funny and silly. During the day, we  have tons of fun while we learn! Browse around the blog here later and you can see for yourself!

3. I always say I think I've seen it all and then some surprise comes along! There's never a dull moment in the classroom. I LOVE that! Over the course of my teaching career, I have seen many things change in the field of education. I don't worry too much about things. I just teach on...solid teaching strategies are timeless. 

1. Although I am a teacher "celebrity", I have a hard time when boundaries blur between work and home life, you know?

 You won't find many specific details about my life on the internet. I choose not to show tons of pictures of my family and I cringe at most every picture of myself, so that is a no-brainer!!! 

   I am also a closet blogger. Only a few of my closest friends at work know that I blog and I'm pretty sure they NEVER read it. Ha! 

2. I am always searching for more... It's hard to describe because I'm not sure what MORE is exactly. This may be the reason why I have three walk-ins full of clothes! 

1. Even though the thought of being out on the wide ocean and getting hit with a rogue wave or falling OVERBOARD scares me to death :), I think it would be amazing to take a Mediterranean cruise. Some of my relatives came from Croatia. I would love to go there someday. 

 Wouldn't that be the trip of a lifetime? 

  Well, thanks for stopping by today for my 3-2-1 bio! Feel free to tell us a bit about you in the comments section or add your blog post to the link up too! Just grab the images below. When you link up with us, be sure to link back to this post and use the Weekend Warriors button!

 Now, head on over to see what the rest of these amazing teacher bloggers have to say about themselves!

Teachers LOVE Summer {Link Up}

Teachers LOVE our summer vacations! It's a chance to regroup, have some fun and get caught up on things that we just don't have time for during the school year. I always have big plans for my vacation time to make the most of every day. How about you? I'm linking up with my sweet friend Aimee at Primarily Speaking to tell you what I love most about summer!

There are so many reasons why I love summer vacation time. 
 I've narrowed it down to my top 5.

Summertime: I'm a sunshine gal for sure.  A sunny warm day just makes my heart happy.  I feel way more energetic in the summer than during the gray winter months.  I love to hang out at the pool, water park or the beach.  Don't you love this graphic from Life is Good?  It sums it up perfectly!

I love to look out of the window and see flowers.  This mandarin lights azalea is so pretty when it blooms! 

Me time: Me time = a summer full of hair, doctor, vision and dental appointments.  It's just too hard to take a day off of teaching for those things.

It is nice to be able to just slow down the pace enough to leisurely sip a cup of coffee and check emails, read Facebook posts and blogs.  It's a time to reconnect with the world in general!

Mom time: Both of us are so busy during the school year (my son with homework and myself with school work) that we need this bonding time together.  Now that he's going to be a senior, our focus has shifted from a field trip experience a day to independent living 101 and college/career exploration!  We always take a vacation of some sort too.  Last year we visited the Smokey Mountains.  This year, we are headed to an out of town wedding and then it's off to climb the beautiful Sleeping Bear Sand Dunes and splash at the Michigan's Adventure water park.

Project time: I'm not talking about crafts here.  I only wish.  My summers as a homeowner are devoted to things like window replacements, landscaping, contractors, organizing closets, fixing drippy faucets, cleaning the garage and all of that.  Teachers really have two homes to maintain. During the school year, I am focused on keeping my classroom clean and organized and then certain things at home get pushed to the back burner.  This is how I have spent my first few weeks off.  I'm moving and building a new place to call home! :) 

Treat time: Summer is a great time to go out to eat, swing by Dairy Queen, stop at Orange Leaf, grab a frappuccino, go to barbecues and do a whole lot of EATING!  I don't know what it is about summer and food...
I try to get outside for a daily power walk and burn some of those extra calories! 

This to die for crispy honey chicken is from PF Changs at our outdoor mall. The mall (dangerously close to home) is really happening in the summer with live music and all sorts of action.  I LOVE to shop there.  I am watching my spending this year, but I often save up all of the moolah I can during the winter so I can give myself permission to do some shopping in the summer!

See the winter coat and boots on the little one in the photo?  The bare trees?  Much of the year in Michigan is cold and down right bone-chilling frigid, so I LOVE SUMMER and appreciate every day! 

What do you love most about summer? 
Link up here and let us know! :)

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