When the coronavirus pandemic hit, most people assumed that it was temporary and we would be back to school in a matter of weeks. As it became clearer that would not be the case, schools began to scramble for a way to make e-learning work. For a lot of places that looked like busy work. There were countless pre-assigned assignments that reviewed content students already knew. Some schools and teachers had the audacity to continue providing instruction. Teachers in those schools came out of pocket for a lot.
It is no secret that teachers have to spend a lot of their own money … and that is in a normal year. This year was anything but. This was the year of digital learning, and teachers had to become equipped literally and figuratively. Teaching online effectively requires many purchases. In some cases, schools pay for them but most schools are already tapped out financially from having to fix an internet infrastructure gap the government should have closed a long time ago. Meaning teachers were left on their own. Here is a sample of my expenses during e-learning:
- Dock to connect my computer to additional monitors and the monitors themselves. You can’t monitor students and teach and appear via video effectively on one screen. This ran me a few hundred.
- Wacom pen tablet to give me the ability to write and draw by hand digitally. It is hard to demonstrate math operations via keyboard … another hundred.
- Memberships to a few different sites. I found lots of cool sites that facilitated online learning. My school ended up buying memberships to a few.
By the way, students are still coming back this year in person which means I will still have the usual expenses of putting together and decorating a classroom.
There is a tax deduction for teachers. It wasn’t enough before, and it definitely won’t be enough now. It is too late to change the tax-code for next year, but teachers’ out of pocket expenses needs to be addressed. This year, it is more noticeable because of remote learning, but teachers have always been the bridge for the financial gap within schools. When kids show up without supplies chances are a teacher got them what they needed. I have purchased food, supplies, field trips, winter coats, shoes, even Christmas gifts when parents inevitably sign up too-late for holiday assistance. I’m not going to say I don’t mind, because I do, but I know it comes with the territory. However, I do want you to be aware.
Teachers know schools are lacking money and are under no false impression that a big reimbursement is coming their way, but the public should know that teachers may be coming out of pocket to help their students learn.