Saturday, June 3, 2017

Community Supplies vs. Individual Supplies


Community Supplies vs. Individual Supplies.  A very hot topic on the Facebook teacher boards and it's one that I don't think there is a right or wrong answer to.

So let's see.  How do you decide?  What are the pros and cons of them both?  What grade level do you teach?  What are the socio-economic status of the area in which you teach?...These are just a few questions that you can think of as a teacher that can lead your towards supplies, handling them and *replinishing them*.

So let's dicuss:  Pros vs. Cons.

Community Supplies
Pros:

  • Everyone always has access to supplies that are needed.
  • Students are asked to practice sharing.
Cons:
  • Germy?  LOL...It is though
  • You are responsible for replacing them.
  • They fight over them.
  • They steal them.  (Could just be my class, EVERY YEAR)
Personal Supplies
Pro:
  • They keep up with them.
  • Their parent's replace them.
  • It teaches them responsibility.
  • No stealing
Cons:
  • Don't really have any personal cons.
So here's my opinion (even though you didn't ask), I think it's both to have best.  In the K-1 classroom it may be easier to have community supplies.  They students aren't really responsible enough yet to keep up with their own supplies.  It's easier to keep them in one place and students at this age aren't typically territorial yet over their things.

But come on down the hall to 2nd - 3rd grade.  They are absolutely getting to that territorial age.  They want to use the mechanical pencil their mother bought and they don't want to share it.  As a mother, I also don't mind purchasing for the class but I do mind when my daughters things are taken from her to be shared with other students.  Students at this age are old enough to keep up with their own things.

Let's turn the corner and go down the other hall to 4th and 5th grade.  They are just too old for community supplies.  They don't want to share.  They can absolutely keep their own things.  Other than scissors, markers and pencils I can't seem to find a reason for community supplies.

So here is what I do and have always done, even when I was a 1st grade teacher.  I typically do both.  Every summer, I purchase crayons, glue sticks, paper, dry erase markers, more scissors, etc for my classroom.  I place them in cute buckets with labels and I have a student supply shelf where I place them.  My students are aware that they are there and they are allowed to use them anytime that they want to but there is an understanding that I WANT THEM BACK!  They are for the class NOT the individual. I will replenish my own classroom supplies and if I need donations from parents, I'll send out a letter explaining we are short on ___, can you please donate to the classroom.

I, however, allow them to keep their own supplies.  I take nothing from them but dry erase markers and glue sticks.  Everything else (notebooks, folders, pencils, crayons, etc).  It's for them to keep.  I don't want it, I don't collect it, I don't store it.  Keep it in your desk.  I provide them with pencil pouches if they don't bring one and they keep their own things.  If they run out of room in their desk, I have one empty cabinet that they are allowed to use to store their things but that's it.  Their parents are responsible for replacing their personal supplies.

I allow all students to use community supplies but I do not make them share their own supplies.  I teach 3rd grade and I have a 3rd grader at home, so it's very evident in how she feels about the same thing.  If my students offer to let someone borrow their pencil, then I make sure the other student gives it back. But I've personally never been a big fan of students sharing supplies that were bought specifically for them.  

What are your thoughts?