Today I spent my morning at another building in our District. My purpose? To curate books for the teachers in my building. Here's the thing, teachers have stuff. We don't really need more. We may need daily consumable items like folders, pencils, and paper; but, for the most part we have books, games, and posters. More than we know what to do with most of the time. Problem is these things aren't always our's. They are owned by our district or other teachers, but that doesn't mean they are being used.
We all have those teachers in our buildings who never throw anything away. They still have the materials they used in 1999 somewhere in a file folder. In today's education system, when everything is online, there's even more stuff being collected by teachers. The problem is we don't know who has what or what is being stored where, and so we end up buying new stuff. (Kind of like I do at home, and then find that I have two of something!)
So this morning I was at another building taking some of their stuff! The teachers in my building want to do small group guided reading next year. Our problem is that our building was a middle school at one point and then was redistricted into an intermediate building (grades 5-6). In the beginning they tried to still do a middle school model but quickly found that didn't work for the new grouping of grade levels. It has been several years and we are still trying to find our best fit. We are now being considered an upper elementary and as such want to teach more like upper elementary. For us this means more small group reading in our classrooms, but we didn't have any small group sets of leveled text for teachers to use.
Logic says buy some, right? No - Wait - Stop! Just from what I have seen in my building with materials that are being stored and not used I knew that other schools had to have the same. Sure enough, they do. I was able to get everything we were looking for in one place. Hundreds of books that were just sitting there waiting for someone to read them. Several copies of each title so they can be used in small group. All I have to do is box them up and have them shipped to my building.
Here's my point, we need to share. Teachers need to start asking around for what they need or want. Looking for books for your classroom library? Ask family and friends for their children's books they were going to donate or pass on. Need small group book at a different reading level than what you currently have? Send an email to the instructional coaches or mentor teachers at other schools and ask if they have any that aren't being used? Maybe your building has a room like mine that seems to have boxes of stuff not being used. Take some time and inventory what's there, then send an email to other schools asking if they could use any of it. Not only does it free up some of your space, it also gets materials used that were forgotten about. Keep in mind, books that were once meant to be used for a specific program could be used for an entirely new purpose somewhere else.
I talked a lot about books here, I know. That's because I was looking for books. However, that's the cool thing about teachers and sharing. There's a lot of stuff out there that could be used somewhere else. While I was visiting the other school today I was asked if we could use math hands-on materials. There was an entire book shelf full of unused materials for math, just sitting there waiting for a child to learn with them.
The site Share My Lesson allows teachers to find lesson plans and to share their lesson plans. Another is Teachers Give Teachers, which is a give one take one site. You upload your own digital lesson / hyper doc and can take one from someone else.
Do you have things you could share? Are you looking for "stuff"? You don't need to look at your whole school. Start with you. Make a list. Share!