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"This is the most exciting day of my life...and I was pulled on stage once to dance at a Bruce Springsteen concert."
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Sunday, November 14, 2004

Making A List, Checking It Twice

I believe the children are our future.

I also believe that the children are damn expensive.

Every year, teachers all over the country have to sit down, take a deep breath and take on a very important task. They have to put the lesson planning and grading aside and decide...what they want to order for the next year. At my school, that time is now.

To be honest, there never really is a best time for the process. It's time consuming and frustrating. It's extra frustrating when you're new and you still don't know what you will need for this year, let alone the next. Should I order the translucent counters or the multi-colored ones? Do I really need that extra pocket chart? Regardless, I had take on the job of trying to pick and choose.

It needs to be said that at my district, the sky used to be the limit. We are something called an Abbott district, which in short means we get lots of money from the state. So there are stories of teachers ordering ridiculous amounts of stuff, just because they could. I'm sure there was some sort of hypothetical cutoff point, but let's just say, some teachers got greedy.

But, as all good things must come to an end, this bountiful of riches too had it's time. Of course, wouldn't you know the first year they set a limit is also the first year I am teaching there. Ahh, timing is everything.

So, the limit all teachers were given this year is $2,000. $2,000. It's a weird amount. It's a lot more than other teachers in some districts get, but still doesn't go a long way when you're new and need a lot.

2,000 is like what... 2 questions on Millionaire? It's funny how money is all relative. If I was to write this post about a weekend I had in AC and said I won $2,000, you'd no doubt congratulate me. But if I were to tell you I had $2,000 to renovate my kitchen, you'd probably tell me to cut some corners and get creative.

Regardless, I looked at what seems like zillions of catalogs and picked out things I thought were fairly decent (and somewhat necessary). Could I teach without these things? Certainly. I mean, I am now. Would it be nice to have them though? You betcha.

Then I get news last week that yours truly can go above the set $2,000 because a. I am new and b. the prinicpal apparently "knows my room was raided". Now I am in an awkward position of epic proportions. I can't tell the other new staffers I was given this green light, because as of now, I don't know of anyone else who was told this. The other awkward part comes in defining what is acceptably going over $2,000 at the risk of being indulgent. When I tried to bring the issue up I was simply told, "Well, put down what you think you need."

So, I sat down yet again and added some things to my list. I didn't even include all the big money items I kinda, sorta really need because then I really would be over. When all was said and done, I'm at roughly $3700, including shipping and handling.

I thought about trying to trim it down, but then I thought, why? I already put too much blood, tears and chalk dust into this process. If they want me to get rid of stuff, I gladly will, assuming they come back to me and say it. Of course, there is always the chance they will trim it down for me and then they might get rid of something I wanted more over something else. That would really suck. But in a way, it's out of my hands.

What would you do? Would you hand your purchase order in as is since you were given no specific guidelines, or would you get out the scissors and start cutting?

I look at it like this.

If I fail, or even if I least I ordered what I'd think I'd need.



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