I know, I know. We are supposed to. It is part of the martyrdom intrinsic in the teaching profession. We work 70-hour weeks, we give students our lunch money, we buy them supplies…it is just what is done, right?

Not this year. Not in my class. I teach high school English. Each year until now, my school has provided me with a case of copy paper, 12 ink pens, 12 pencils, a box of chalk, a box of paper clips, a box of staples (no stapler, though), and a chalkboard eraser. Until now, I have spent upwards of $600/year on my classroom ($1100 year before last). I have ensured that there were tissues and hand sanitizer readily available. I have cleaned desks daily. I have maintained two computers and an electric pencil sharpener. I have purchased items to make learning fun in my English classroom…reference posters, a classroom library, beanbags to get the kids moving during discussions, balls to be used during learning drills, a spinner for the chalkboard to determine student groups, activity centers full of supplies. Every year, I have had to repurchase all of these items.

Why? Because students don’t appreciate them. I take money from my family’s budget to ensure my students are well-taught, and they jam paperclips into pencil sharpeners, steal keys from the computer keyboards, rip books apart, write on posters, cut open beanbags, steal the spinner, and throw activity center supplies around the classroom. They draw lewd pictures on the desks I clean, use hand sanitizer as a weapon, and make spit balls with the tissues.

In short, they are jerks, and I am no longer supplying them with materials they can use in their competition to be the jerkiest.

So, please, ensure that your student arrives to my class with a fully-stocked backpack. Because while I am willing to help polite, well-behaved students on an individual basis (and will maintain a small supply of materials for them), you need to do your part, too.