It’s common knowledge that most public school teachers in America are underpaid and under-appreciated. But fewer people realize just how much extra time, money, and effort teachers pour into each classroom and each school year — especially those who teach elementary school.
As summer nears its end, one viral TikTok video captured just exactly what’s expected of new teachers when they enter a new classroom.
The post, which went up in July, shows user @progressivemama surveying her new kindergarten classroom, which is completely bare except for furniture.
“So frustrated going into my classroom today,” she captions the video. “No shelves for a classroom library. The desks are weird for a Kindergarten class. No cabinets. No rug. No left over supplies or books. How much of my own money am i expected to spend?”
"This does not feel like a kindergarten classroom," she narrates in the video. "There's nothing. There's not even a teacher desk."
Over 2,000 people have commented on the video.
“Yup!! That’s all you get. Desks, chairs, and textbooks. That’s what people don’t realize. We buy EVERYTHING,” one fellow teacher shared.
“isn’t it crazy politicians get an allowance to furnish their offices, but teachers can not. Please vote,” another urged.
While most of the comments are from people who are either supportive of her struggle or shocked at the lack of supplies, some teachers pointed out that they’ve seen much worse.
“I’ve moved 5 times in 16 years and NEVER had such a clean, quality space to work with. That furniture is amazing! I guess everything is relative,” a teacher shared.
“That room is clean w/ nice desks, tables, & storage. Count your blessings. I have been in rooms w/ holes in the wall & floor w/ mice, insects, mold,” another said.
Luckily, this specific story has a happy ending. The new teacher says that friends and family reached out and helped her purchase supplies to get her classroom ready for the year, and an updated video shows what a real learning space for kids should look like.
“Feeling so much better after having TONS of donations,” she writes, while giving the same video tour of her now-filled classroom.
And then last week, she updated again, showing her cheery and book-filled room ready for the school’s meet and greet.
While this one teacher found a way to solve her problem, many, many more teachers are still struggling to buy the tools they need to educate our kids. Don’t hesitate to reach out to your kids’ teachers (past and present) to ask if you can help. Also, know that there are classroom funding websites like DonorsChoose, where anyone can reach out and help a teacher buy supplies.
Our public school teachers should have a budget from their district for classroom supplies — and this is a systemic issue that needs to be addressed on a national level. But until that happens, parents and community members can reach out and help our teachers.