Teacher Hoarding Disease is a real and dread condition. It starts slow: an impressive sale on multifix cubes, a box of golf pencils, a couple of extra homework packets. Over time it takes over, until one is left with a closet so overloaded with broken crayons, irregular paper samples and lightly chewed teddy bear counters. Cursed are those who open the closet, for they shall be buried alive.
As I've said before, Teacher Hoarding Disease is an acquired syndrome, and an understandable one at that. School funding often oscillates wildly from year to year. In California, education budgets may be more predictable these days, but this is because the pendulum swings only from "Catastrophic" to "Evacuate to Fallout Shelter". When you don't know what will be available or can predict that nothing will be, the difference between laying in for winter and compulsive hoarding blurs.
Teachers generally are resourceful: scavengers nonpareil with the flexibility of impromptu theater actors. This disposition potentiates the disease's severity: you may never have the opportunity to buy one thousand watch gears for fifty cents again, after all, and they will be nifty collage materials. Teacher turnover also complicates the course of the illness: retiring and laid-off teachers always have plenty of lovely, well-made and effective teaching resources that you will never use but cannot bear to throw away. Some of this deitrus molders in dark cupboards, stealing valuable storage space and every year becoming less useful.
I have been in my current classroom for four years and I still haven't fully excavated what the teachers who came before me left behind. Every winter break, I put at least ten hours into clearing out textbooks retired in the early 1990s, mostly empty bottles of separated tempera paint and the like.
This year I'm fighting the system. My particular weaknesses:
*Teaching Manuals, Blackline Master Collections and Education Books
I've found a few incredibly useful guides, which has encouraged me to collect anything that might possibly be of interest. The Explosive Child changed how I thought about classroom management to lasting and excellent effect: perhaps this research study from the seventies will have a similar impact on my mathematics instruction! The reality that I may very well have more books than I will ever peruse for homework worksheets, sub plans and pedagogical outlook rarely occurs to me in the moment. Also, my limited organization skills often lead to misplaced blackline masters, so sometimes I snag an extra copy at an excellent price so that I'm ready for when I lose the first one.
The day I turned sixteen, I applied to work at a children's bookstore (and thankfully was hired and therefore able to turn in my fast food uniform for good). Since then, I have always had some kind of involvement with childrens' books, so I know lots of titles very well and want to share them with my students. My family is overrun by mad readers and my household boasts not one but two Amazon Prime accounts. Therefore, my book hoarding is condoned and reinforced. And again, I've made some wonderful finds, like four of the Church Mouse books, which are seriously out of print and available at your local online retailer for a couple hundred bucks.
If I come across the materials for some excellent project, I often find myself wondering if these materials will be available for next year's class. This typically ends with me buying adequate amounts for the next three or four years. I use the materials for three years, at which point I begin to worry that I will never see them again. At this point, I may elect not to do the project in the future, so that there is still a large supply of materials.
This year, I am weeding my teacher manuals by giving second copies to my Resident. When I go to the the Children's Book Project, I take only the most exciting finds for the classroom library. My class has already worked its way through several spools of yarn, paper towel rolls and crayon bits.