Friday, 18 July 2014

The Financial Cost of Being a Teacher

During my career I have always used my own money to support my teaching in some way. At first it was buying pens. I could fight and argue with students, I could pick discarded pens up off the floor, but in the end I bought them from ASDA or Tesco every Sunday and gave them out to students, about 30 per week. Praise stickers and stamps were bought and and other prizes like chocolate for use in class.

Towards the end of my second year of teaching I also bought myself an Apple PowerBook, this was a serious investment in my own teaching. Even in 2005 it wasn't common to be permanently connected to the internet so this computer was bought for making presentations and worksheets on as well as storing all my electronic information.

At my second school things got a little more serious. We weren't allowed more than £10 per year of photocopying. That was one set of sheets per class per year. This was because all the photocopying was done the summer before and therefore we wouldn't need anything that wasn't in the scheme of work. But I did. I wasn't going to give my students hand written sheets that were photocopied on an angle so you couldn't see the bottom corner of the sheet. So I bought a printer, laminator, coloured paper, paper cutter etc and set about making my own worksheets and paying for them myself. They were mine, no one got to share them and I took them all away when I left.

As a science teacher I have spent considerable amounts of my own money on things for experiments. We have petty cash in the department and you can get expenses, but it seems trivial to ask for 59p for a pack of strawberry laces or 40p for two packs of spaghetti. If I am honest I don't mind about this. I once bought a class set of hand-held fans for a lesson on air pressure and I did claim for them. I would always expect my technicians to claim for shopping as they do earn significantly less and I would never judge someone who wanted the 20p for spaghetti back.

I also care about my own CPD, I have hundreds (if it doesn't run into thousands) of pounds worth of teaching books, revision gudies and textbooks that I have bought with my own money. I was once told by an SMT member that I should claim this back too, but I didn't because I want to own the books not the department. I spend my own money going to the ASE conference, the ticket as well as the travel and accommodation. I don't think anything of it.

I bought myself an iPad, I use my own camera, I have my own leads for connecting the iPad and my macbook air to the projector. When my partner is challenged by his management about why he leaves school within half an hour of the end of the school day his response is that we have better equipment at home to work on that at school and it is true. We've spent money ensuring that we have the necessary equipment to allow us to do our job.

I pay a membership to the ASE, my union and the IoP. I will probably have to add the college of teaching to that in the future.

I have always just got on with spending my own money. It is part of the teaching culture.

Until now. The next step down this line is into the world of IT. I have bought myself a new iPad mini (as my original iPad doesn't run iOS 7) and I have started buying apps. I didn't really think about this either, I find playing with the apps fun and don't begrudge £2.99 here or £0.69 there. I have a dropbox account with 100GB of storage that costs me $9.99 per month via paypal. I don't even think about the cost of that, I use it to store things for work, but I also use it to back up my photos.

I am considering upgrading to evernote premium (£35 per year), if you want to embed videos into a wordpress account it is $60 per year, and edublogs account which can embed video and manage student accounts is $39.95 per year. Nearpod is $120/year. I can pay a subscription to pocket (sounds really useful actually), I can pay a subscription to feedly. I can pay twitter to remove the adds, I can buy more add-ons in apps like moldiv. Popplet is $30 per year. You can up grade Prezi for $59 per year. Picktochart upgrades are $24 per month.

Where does it stop? How many lots of $9.99 per month can I pay, how much equipment should I be supplying that will allow me to do my job? And why don't I claim it back?

1 comment:

  1. It’s all very well being in a school that offers to pay back for textbooks etc. A previous school I was at, had a yearly Science budget of £400. I asked for a textbook/revision guide for the BRAND new Science course for each of the members of my staff. This was flatly refused. As you say, I spend lots of my own money on School and always have done. It’s an excellent question to ask. Where do we stop?