US School Teachers Turn to Social Media for School Supplies

Category: Education/Family


Unlocking Word Meanings

Read the following words/expressions found in today’s article.

  1. burden / ˈbɜr dn / (n) – something that is often unpleasant or difficult to do

    To lessen the teachers’ burden of cleaning classrooms every summer, the school asked for the community’s help.

  2. support system / səˈpɔrt ˈsɪs təm / (n) – a group of people who give emotional or practical support to someone

    My support system at work makes things less difficult for me.

  3. prompt / prɒmpt / (v) – to cause a person to do a certain action

    His sudden nosebleed prompted him to go for a checkup.

  4. stock up / stɒk ʌp / (phrasal) – to have a big supply of something for future use

    We need to stock up on food to prepare for the rainy season.

  5. engaging / ɛnˈgeɪ dʒɪŋ / (adj) – describing an activity that attracts people

    Most students found the event engaging because there were a lot of fun games.


Read the text below.

Teachers in the United States found a way to reduce their financial burden of buying school supplies through a viral social media campaign.

Fourth grade teacher Courtney Jones from Texas started the initiative on Facebook by creating a group named “Support A Teacher.” According to Jones, she decided to create the group to give teachers an opportunity to come together and help them gain a support system for getting what they need for their classrooms.

After a while, Jones extended the campaign to Twitter and Instagram using the official hashtag #ClearTheList. This attracted more teachers to post their wish lists. The initiative became more successful when celebrities started supporting it, prompting their followers to do the same.  As of early September, the campaign has received more than 2,000 requests. It is hosted by the crowdfunding site Donors Choose, and it estimates that around $1.3 million is needed to fund all the items on the lists.

To get school items, teachers have to create Amazon wish lists. They can share their wish lists on social media using the official hashtag. Anyone can donate by giving money or purchasing an item on a list.

Based on a recent survey by the US Department of Education, a teacher typically spends a minimum of $479 to buy classroom supplies. According to Jones, some teachers spend as much as $2,500 just to stock up on essential items.

Aside from helping teachers clear their lists, donations will also have a huge impact on students’ classroom experiences. Sixth grade teacher Alexis Wilson said that the school items help her create engaging classroom activities. Kristen Gainer, another elementary school teacher, said that through the campaign, she was able to learn different teaching ideas and techniques from other teachers.

Viewpoint Discussion

Enjoy a discussion with your tutor.

Discussion A

• In your opinion, would this kind of campaign receive a positive response in your country? Why or why not?
• In what other ways can Jones gain more support for her campaign? Discuss.

Discussion B

• What other forms of support do you think teachers need (e.g. trainings, certifications)? Discuss.
• Do you think schools in your country have the capacity or resources to provide these forms of support? Why or why not?