In response to the COVID-19 outbreak, schools closed nationwide and teachers had to switch their classroom lesson plans to distance learning overnight. These abrupt changes created new challenges for teachers and their students, and they require unique distance learning resources to overcome them. Teachers are doing all they can to support their students from afar, and while many classrooms are now virtual, the need for physical learning supplies is greater than ever, so all students can continue to learn and succeed.
The need for school supplies was prevalent long before the pandemic occurred. In 2018, AdoptAClassroom.org surveyed more than 4,400 U.S. teachers on their classroom spending habits. The results showed that teachers are spending an average of $740 out of pocket on classroom supplies each year to provide their students with the materials they need. Now that students are no longer in the classroom, the supply gap has only widened for children in low-income households who don’t have adequate access to distance learning resources.
Teachers are in desperate need of materials to equip all of their students with distance learning resources so they can continue to participate in school from their homes. During our recent AdoptAClassroom.org #DistanceLearningChat Twitter discussion, we asked teachers across the country which supplies they need now that they’re teaching remotely.
These are the seven most common distance learning materials teachers say they need most:
1. Basic School Supplies
“My students don’t have things like pencils, paper, crayons, or books to read at home. My students need basic school supplies.”
Lessons may be virtual, but students still need basic school supplies like writing utensils, paper, books, and other classroom staples to complete assignments at home. Eighty-percent of the top five school materials surveyed teachers said they need are basic school supplies.
Unfortunately, 92% of teachers have students whose families cannot afford these supplies, so teachers fill the gap to level the playing field for all of their students.
“I have been teaching online and have been missing three students because they don’t have laptops. I need three laptops.”
A Pew Research Center study found that one in four teens in low-income households don’t have access to a home computer. As a result, many students are struggling to complete homework and participate in virtual classrooms.
Computers are an essential distance learning resource for all students while schools are closed. The digital divide will cause students to fall behind their peers if they don’t have access to the technology needed to participate remotely.
3. Art Supplies
“My kids need a packet of art supplies like a box of crayons, markers, colored pencils, a watercolor pan and brush, and pastels to name a few.”
Before the COVID-19 outbreak, art materials were the most common classroom supplies purchased by teachers using their own money. Eighty-two percent of surveyed teachers said they purchase art materials for their students.
Teachers still need art supplies so their students can continue to express themselves through the arts during these difficult times.
4. Printing and Scanning Materials
“Printer ink, paper, and a better scanner.”
Many teachers are supporting students who don’t have computers by printing assignment packets and sending them to those who don’t have access to the same distance learning resources as their peers. These packets can also be scanned and sent to students who can receive them virtually.
To ensure every student can participate in the same assignments and continue learning, teachers need technology, along with a large supply of printer ink and paper so they don’t run out of the consumable materials needed to ensure learning doesn’t stop.
5. Audio/Video Technology
“I need a webcam! My 3 year old iPhone 6s is not cutting it!”
“[A] Microphone to cut down on external noise.”– @MsSubiasClass
As teachers stay connected with students via remote conferencing services to continue their instruction from afar, they need video and audio technology like microphones and webcams. When students are able to see and hear their teacher, it gives them a sense of normalcy as they recreate the classroom within a virtual space.
Students also require technology like headsets so they can continue to communicate with their teachers and peers.
“I would love to have a whiteboard easel and a way to videotape myself demonstrating lessons.”
As teachers host virtual lessons, they still require a whiteboard to give students a visual demonstration. Subjects like math, at every grade-level, are often taught using step-by-step visuals, so students learn how to solve a problem from start to finish.
One teacher thought visual instruction was so important that he brought a whiteboard to a student’s house who was struggling with math, to teach her from outside.
“Food and snacks, believe it or not. I worry if our meal distribution shuts down like some of our surrounding cities have done, will my kiddos be okay.”
Food plays an important role in a child’s learning. Students struggle in school when they have to learn on an empty stomach. Nearly 20% of U.S. children under the age of 18 live in food-insecure households. With schools closed, many students who qualify for free or reduced-priced lunch are missing meals they would normally receive.
Some schools are able to continue providing students in need with meals, while others are struggling during this difficult transition period. Teachers are doing all they can to help. Seventy-four percent of teachers purchase food or snacks to help their students meet basic nutritional needs.
You can help educators provide their students with the distance learning resources they need to continue learning while schools remain closed. Find and fund a teacher or school with a tax-deductible donation here.