When I secured my first-ever teaching job, my favorite and the most exciting task was to go shopping for my classroom. Now I want to share my top places to shop for teacher decor with you.
I just didn’t realize how long it was going to take for me to get a teaching job.
I graduated college in May of 2010 and immediately moved from my home state of North Carolina to Pennsylvania. My husband and I were about to be married and decided to live in Pennsylvania, where he was from.
I immediately landed a job in a daycare as a toddler teacher. My degree was in Elementary Education, but being a newlywed meant I needed to earn money right away. It was a hard summer. I love toddlers, but I wasn’t equipped or trained to teach twelve of them in one room. Between adjusting to northern living, being a college graduate, and being a newlywed, I was super overwhelmed.
I applied to school after school in PA while I tried to obtain my PA teaching license. The PA teaching license process was super long and not very communicative, which meant while I was applying to PA schools, my licensure still had not come through.
After quickly transferring my NC teaching license to Delaware, I applied to school after school in Delaware.
As June and then July rolled around, I didn’t get called for a single interview from two states.
Most of the schools required Master’s Degrees or at least three years of teaching experience, of which I had neither. I watched my friends get teaching jobs within days of graduation in NC. It was very frustrating. I questioned why I had moved.
Why did I spend four years in college just to never really use my skills?
As August approached, I changed my job search to private schools. Public schools weren’t calling me and even though my husband and I needed the public school salary, my sanity needed a break from toddlers and the daycare world. I just wasn’t made for it. Even when I completed my student teaching, I never wanted to teach below third grade. Can you imagine going years below your preferred grade?
I heard rumblings from a church friend of a small private school having an opening for a third/fourth combined grade teaching position. I called the school immediately and emailed my resume. I was called for my first official interview in the middle of August.
Knowing the school year was about to start and being overwhelmed with the possibility of not securing a job for the year, I dreaded the idea of continuing to teach at a daycare. (Seriously, I was not made for it!)
Long story short, I did get the job and found out the third week of August! I ended up spending the next seven years teaching at that wonderful school. It’s a time I cherish and look fondly on. I miss that school so much.
Once I received the news I would be teaching 3rd/4th grade, the first thing I did was go shopping. I was so excited to carry out all the ideas that had been swirling in my head for years. These are the places I immediately went to and still go-to for decor ideas:
Between the dollar spot and even the whole store, it is a teacher’s paradise. I was able to get so many cute posters, knick-knacks, teaching material, little games, desk calendars, and small decorative pieces for under $5. The office supply section has beautiful desk decor and lots of types of pens.
Five and Below
If you’re lucky enough to have a Five and Below near you, run to this store. Just like the title suggests, everything is $5 and below. I was able to get little stools, cozy area rugs, lots of teaching resource books, arts and crafts supplies, twinkly lights, and so much more.
The dollar store is a teacher’s dream when it comes to cheap organization. Baskets and containers are only a dollar and you’re definitely going to need all the storage you can get.
Used Book Stores
I was able to get a ton of books for my classroom library at used bookstores. Some local places had “fill-a-box” deals. I could pay $5 to fill a whole box with lots of books.
I saved my money for some bigger ticket items at Michael’s. The three-tier rolling cart and the 10-drawer rolling cart were must-have purchases. It helped me organize supplies, papers, and so much more.
Teachers Pay Teachers
My mother, having been a seasoned teacher, directed me to this awesome website to buy any resources and bulletin boards I could think of. It also allowed me to support other teachers this way. It was a win/win. We are now on Teachers Pay Teachers ourselves. Here’s one of the bulletin boards we’ve made:
I had a local Lakeshore Learning store, but if you do not have one, they have a great website. It sells the latest items you’ll need to jump-start your classroom, such as bulletin borders, bulletin board background paper, resource papers, accent pieces, puzzles, and anything else you can think of.
Even though this wasn’t as popular when I started teaching 11 years ago, it has become a teacher’s go-to. Between EXPO markers, prizes for kiddos, books, lesson plan books, technology, and anything else you’d need, Amazon is amazing.
Yard Sales/Yard Sale Sites/Facebook Marketplace/Goodwill
These are great places to find a retired teacher’s stash of teacher goodies. Facebook Marketplace, in particular, has great classroom furniture finds, if you need an extra bookcase or filing cabinet. These are awesome resources for used books to build up your classroom library, as well.
K12 School Supplies
I didn’t discover this website until a couple of years into my career, but it’s a favorite. They have a vast supply of so many different items. They have so many unique bulletin board borders, toys, games, literature units, calendars…anything you can think of. I liken it to the Amazon of the teacher world!
If you are a new graduate awaiting your first teaching job, don’t lose hope! There is the perfect school out there just waiting for you to find them. Once you do get that job, have fun shopping the above stores to decorate your classroom. Remember to make it unique and special, just like you are!