Throughout my years of teaching I've purchased many things with my own money, for the benefit of my students or for the sake of maintaining a well-run, interesting and esthetically pleasing learning environment.

I've given the matter a lot of thought and I've decided to keep a list of all these purchases. I will probably not remember everything I've bought in the past, but from now on I'll try to be thorough in my record keeping.

I realize that a hypothetical reader might scoff at my list and counter with "well, you didn't need to get that, you just bought it because you wanted to".

True. I cannot claim that this website, for instance, was an absolute life-saving necessity. The reader might also add "we didn't have websites in our day, and we turned out all right!" True, again. The reality is that nothing of what we do in school is an absolute life-saving necessity. In hospitals, yes. In schools...not so much. It is an unsettling truth, leading to uncomfortable, but important questions: what is a necessity, where school is concerned? How much of this, and how much of that is contained in the magical recipe that yields well-adjusted, productive, happy citizens?  Who should bear the costs? Where, on the number line stretching from abject poverty to abundant luxury, do we want to position ourselves? Where is the Goldilocks interval of Just Right?

I fully accept that my Goldilocks interval is a bit further up than it would be for such a hypothetical reader. I will make no apologies for my "high"(really?) standards with respect to the running of a mathematics classroom. When I see holes, I feel an urge to plug them, even if it's with my own money, and despite requests to cease and desist from my exasperated family.

Voila.

 

  1. Website (including SSL certificate), started in 2009, 90$/year . Updating it in 2014 took about 25 hours. Daily maintenance time: who's counting?:-)
  2. Software: Personal license of Microsoft Office. A lot.
  3. Software (math): Geometer's Sketchpad, approx 70$
  4. Software (math): Autograph, approx 100$
  5. Games: reasoning, strategy, visualizing, logic, etc. A grand total of $524.64 at the last count.
  6.  Mini-whiteboards, first set bought in the US in 2009 and then a new classroom set bought approximately every two years (about 120$ every time)
  7.  Microfiber towels to erase aforementioned mini-whiteboards (approx 25$)
  8.  Posters, Escher (lots). Forgot the prices.
  9.  Various (and numerous) interesting books, forgot the prices.
  10.  Crescent Beach manuals, for grades 8,9 and 10, approx 90$.
  11. Microfiber towels to clean the classroom whiteboards: 10$. The surface of the whiteboards is deteriorating fast, is becoming difficult to clean, leading to time wasting during class while I valiantly fight marker residue, hence the need for...
  12. Solutions MB, the best whiteboard cleaner: 55$ for 4 bottles.  If this doesn't work, then the students should expect long wait times while the boards are cleaned between problems. Alternatively, they could learn to read between the lines (literally).
  13. Supplies for various projects: parchment paper (for transformations), rubber bands (for linear relations), straws, skewers, sculpey and string for creating/visualizing 3D objects, oranges for exploring spheres, etc.
  14. Marker pens from Staples. $5.96/4 markers, more times than I can rembember.
  15. More marker pens, November 2014: $12.70. But they didn't have black so I'll need to go to another Staples for them.
  16. Something I just remembered: Smarties (or whatever they colourful candy are called) for statistics (sampling). And naturally, once you buy Smarties for exploring sampling methods, it would be cruel not to allow the children to sample, if you understand what I mean. Double the fun, double the quantity:-) They were not cheap, that's all I remember. Which is why I never bought my children any candy at all ever. Math problems for desert. Always :-) And no complaining :-)

 

May, 2015: I haven't made any significant purchases in a while. This is not because we have everything we need in class, but because I felt pressure from my family to just leave things as they are. However, this summer I plan to buy a new set of whiteboards. I haven't done it yet, because of the high US dollar - I have to buy them in the States, otherwise the shipping charges are prohibitive. So if all goes well, and if the US dollar goes down a bit, expect new whiteboards next year.

My most sincere thanks to the students who are careful and respectful of the whiteboards and see their value for learning. I'm sorry I nag you at times about not drawing on them:-) I want you to know that I understand why you do it, yes, even when you feel the need to write your name on it in the beginning of the class. Naturally, it's in case you forget your name. Or in case somebody wants to take your whiteboard by force. Or in case we have to leave the whiteboards in a cupboard for a year, and you don't want yours to get mixed up with a foreign whiteboard. Or - worst of all - in case the whiteboard itself refuses to come back to you, after going WAWOL (=whiteboard awol). You never know, with whiteboards. Best to be prepared!

May 24th, 2015. The new whiteboards have arrived! I will start using them in September. I will nag everybody (AGAIN) about the importance of taking care of them. Most recently, the following message was scratched on one of them:

___________ WAS HERE. (the blank space contained a name)

Well, thank you very much, Person-Who-Mistakenly-Thinks-That-The-Fact-You-Were-There-Counts.

June 2015. This has not been an easy year, for students and teachers alike. If I could have bought something really useful this year, that would have been TIME. I heard it's rather expensive though.

September 2015. I've recently ordered three books in preparation for the changing of the curriculum. The Ministry has announced that new textbooks will not be forthcoming (and who can blame them? our current textbooks were purchased in 2008-2009, on the occasion of the adoption of the WNCP curriculum). However, the coming changes will be quite significant for high-school teachers, as lots of topics that were studied in grade 7 (for instance, the addition and subtraction of fractions) will henceforth be studied in grade 8.

And this is how it came to be that the books I ordered from a reputable publishing house in the UK are for YEAR 6.

November 2015. The SSL certificate for one year was 180$! No explanation was given for the outrageous price increase (of 100%, for those who want to practice percentages:-)).

December 2015. Poster about logical fallacies - 29$, at Staples. Logical fallacies ... nothing to do with mathematics, and yet everything to do with mathematics. Not everybody will need to solve equations and decompose polynomials in their adult life (hmmm...), but everybody will need to deploy their reasoning skills correctly. My dearest wish is that my students learn to think well - and mathematics is one way, but not the only way, to practice good thinking. 

June 2016. Smarties. About 20$. Weren't enough:-)

September 2016. More books about fractions. Fractions and proportional reasoning seem to be a bit of a sore spot for many students ...

October 2017 Two domain names! I snapped up mathery.ca and matherie.ca.