It’s spring… and springtime means spring cleaning! This year, my family decided to really get rid of things we haven’t used in over a year. My 3 year old and 7 year old were right with us on this! So we assembled boxes and tables for a yard sale this past weekend. We had several little boxes with kids odds and ends (Buzz Light Year missing his wing, A Woody Hat with no Woody…) you know.. the things the kids were willing to part with. Then there were random household things, loads of baby things (even though my “baby” is three now, it was so sad to say goodbye to that infant stroller), and then… an entire table full of teacher junk.

I realized as I set up the table that I had been hoarding teacher materials long before I was a teacher. I always knew I wanted to teach, and it seemed like high school and college were taking forever. So,what did I do? I made my biggest “aspiring teacher” mistake- I stocked up on junk I thought a teacher might be able to use for when I someday had a classroom. This was a bad idea for several reasons:

1. You don’t know what you need until you have your class sitting in front of you. I had no idea what grade I would teach, so I just bought anything I saw that was cheap/on sale that I thought I might need. In addition, if you are fortunate, your district may actually provide crayons- Wait, you mean that stack of 20 boxes of crayons I bought 5 years ago was unnecessary? Those posters and banners still in their packages that I was planning to someday hang on the walls? My walls are actually covered with my students’ work, I don’t need the posters anyway!

2. Times change- many of the things I bought were outdated 8 years later. One prime example of this is all of the calendar pieces I purchased. I use my SmartBoard for calendar each day now.

3. Things get ruined. Did I really expect those “smelly stickers” to keep their “smell”? They didn’t even keep their “stick”!

4. There is a reason those items were on clearance-None of the teachers wanted them. This is the same reason I caution against taking a huge stack (filling the entire back of my little civic) of boxes of books and old resources from veteran teachers. If you aren’t sure that you’ll use it, or don’t know how you’d use it… pass. I have taken so many things that other teachers didn’t want. Once in a while I picked up a good read.. but largely, those same stacks of books in those same boxes emerged from my attic untouched and are now sitting out in my yard with a “Free” sign. And.. here I am starting the cycle all over again.

So I guess my lesson was that I was so in love with the idea of teaching that I thought spending my hard earned minimum wage high school dollars on posters and old books was a good idea- and it wasn’t.

My suggestions-

*Save the money- Trust me, you’ll have plenty of years ahead of you where you will spend PLENTY of your money on things you know your students need.

* If you want a “gift” from a veteran teacher, spend a few hours in his/her classroom. You’ll learn more there than from any book.

Moral of the story- My attic is thankfully a little emptier, my back is a little sore from all that lifting, and I still love my job more than I ever imagined I would.