Updated: May 7
Victory Freeman is a powerhouse. Freeman started working in early childhood development in 2010. She started her journey working in daycares and early learning centers. In 2016, she began work as a paraprofessional. Currently, she is getting her teaching degree while running the Pre K-3 program at Motley County ISD. Freeman is a major supporter of the “Clear the List” movement on Twitter. This is her story, and her mission.
How It All Started
Just after getting married, Freeman and her husband moved to Matador, Texas. At the time, she didn’t know anyone. But, the small town’s local school heard that she had been teaching before she moved to the area. Freeman got her job as a paraprofessional the same day she interviewed.
“It has been amazing ever since.” -Victoria Freeman
Initially, she was working with the Preschool teacher who taught ages 3 and 4 in the same room. These ages have the differences in ability and development. So, they decided to break the ages apart into separate learning groups. This allowed both teachers to focus more attention with their kids who were at different learning stages in life. This would be one of the first steps she took to personalize learning for her young learners in the Preschool setting.
Freeman’s classroom is adorable and students friendly. She is very thoughtful about how she decorates and what is put into her room.
The Pandemic Hits
“This past year has been a struggle,” Freeman states as she discusses the challenges she had to deal with during the pandemic. The school gave parents the option for virtual learning, but only a few of them took advantage of it. With most of her students still attending face to face classes. The hardest part for her, was to teach such young students effectively while social distancing.
“It is hard because they want to love on you and be with their friends. It is a challenge to keep them apart while also addressing their social emotional needs.” -Victoria Freeman
Her school could not afford plexiglass dividers, like so many other schools during the pandemic. Because of this, Victoria and her husband had to come up with their own creative option. They created PVC pipe dividers with shower curtains to use around the tables.
Freeman was worried the kids would feel upset or be scared about the changes to the room. However, they thought it was cool! They had fun pulling their curtains around them, and poking their heads out to say hello. Eventually they got used to the changes in the room. While the kids did not have too much trouble with it, Freeman is very happy to announce they will not be using these dividers this year.
Another challenge during the pandemic was getting each student their own supplies.
“We had always used communal supplies in the past, but now it wasn’t okay. We were expected to give each student their own supplies, and required to make sure they continued to use the same supplies each day.” -Victoria Freeman
It took some time to gather enough supplies for each student to have their own set. Then, creating the procedures for passing them out and taking supplies back up.
“And there were lots of wipe downs.” Victoria laughs. Even though the wipe downs seemed excessive at first, it quickly became habit. Victoria says that she will probably be keeping the practice of wiping everything down to keep a clean and healthy environment for her students.
Another positive change the pandemic brought was placing only 2 students at each table. The students seemed to do very well having more space to spread out. As long as her classroom size can remain small, she is happy to keep only 2 students at each table.
Many of the items in classrooms like Freeman’s are purchased out of pocket. Clear the List is how you can help.
What is Clear the List?
Two years ago a teacher from Texas started an online movement that would make real changes for teachers everywhere. Courtney Jones started the Twitter hashtag #clearthelist in the summer of 2019. Victoria Freeman and her teacher friends quickly jumped on board. “We thought, why not give it a shot?” And to her surprise, her family and friends quickly cleared her first list.
Freeman had just started running her 3K program. That summer she was working hard to get all the supplies she knew she would need. Freeman was starting from scratch. She had nothing for her classroom or her students yet. Even now she is still building the classroom she knows her students deserve. In contrast, two years ago when she was first setting up she drastically needed the supplies that her first List provided her.
Freeman saw the movement building momentum on Twitter. So, she decided to help other teachers too. She always retweets these lists. Freeman also gives teachers spaces to post their lists using the best hashtags to gain supporters most likely to donate.
Victoria says she is happy to help other teachers get supplies on their lists too, “Every little bit helps you know?”
When she sees teachers who needs items she always tries to support them. Whether she is purchasing a pencil sharpener or a pack of notebooks, she knows that each item she buys for others is worth it.
These lists and campaigns die down over the school year because teachers are crazy busy. But then in the summer, we are all out to help each other and it doesn’t hurt to make your own list too! Its all for the good of the students, you know? -Victoria Freeman
Last summer it became even bigger as teachers in quarantine realized they need digital resources, or other materials to make virtual learning happen.
As a mother of five Freeman has been very busy this summer. When she finally had a moment to check on her Twitter feed. She saw a number of teachers in need of materials for the classroom. This year is going to be tough because teachers are having to restock their classrooms after the pandemic.
What many people don’t seem to realize is that teaching is a struggle. You purchase what you need yourself. Many teachers are forced to purchase crucial items using their own money. That’s why they need the support of the community.
“I just wanted to help teachers out because I know how much I spend out of my own pocket, and I know that even a pencil sharpener goes a long way. Just the kind of person I am. I always feel bad about spending so much to help other teachers, so I ask my husband… but he gets it. Everything we buy for other teachers is supporting them and their students. These are kids who need help.” -Victoria Freeman
Freeman is not quite finished putting together her classroom for this coming school year, but is excited with how it’s coming along.
Most Seen Items on Teacher’s Lists
People who think that the “Clear the List” campaign is for teachers to load their classrooms with state of the art materials or unnecessary technology will be shocked. Teachers are not asking for things out of the question or even out of a typical person’s budget.
The most often requested items by teachers include
Storage bins and organizers
Unfortunately, many students go to school without the materials they need to be successful. It ends up being the teacher’s responsibility to create lessons that do not require these materials. Or to provide these resources to their students. As a teacher, it becomes second nature to stock up on these items. It can quickly become expensive. “If we are constantly spending our money on basic supplies, we can’t ever save up for [what’s] truly needed such as educational technology.” Freeman passionately explained why the “Clear the List” movement is so important.
Why is it important to help each other as a teaching community to get these things funded and “Clear the List”?
“It’s important because, who else will do it? It took a teacher, Courtney, to help start this. Parents and other people don’t realize how much teachers spend and they didn’t realize they had wish lists. We can get to know each other that just need someone to talk to. This list can bridge teachers and help each other out.” -Victoria Freeman
“Clear the List” is helping teachers across the U.S. These are classrooms and educators that need your support.
What advice would you give to a new teacher?
Freeman states, “Remember to have fun! If you’re not having fun, the kids are not having fun.”
Freeman posts or shares posts about teacher lists every day. She’s trying hard to get the lists out there and get things for educators that they truly need. Let’s all help her in her mission to “Clear the List”.