The post was originally published at Special Education Tools.

Do you want free money for your classroom or professional learning? It is easier than you think.

I know what you’re thinking: “What? Is this some sort of teacher scam to get me to buy some new teaching thing?”

Well, no. Not unless you really want to. In which case, I have this WONDERFUL bridge I’d like to sell you… ?

A couple of days ago,  with minimal effort on my part,  I was able to secure $26,000 in tech funding for my school.

In May, I secured about $2,000 funding for me to attend professional development (PD) on blended learning and teaching computer science.

In June, I was given funding to attend a week-long PD at The Tenement Museum through Facing History and Ourselves.

In November of 2013,  I was given funding to attend the Journalism Educators Association biannual convention in Boston and the summer convention in Las Vegas.

Last summer I got (and am still receiving) a free subscription to the Wall Street Journal and The New York Times and free accompanying PD to learn how to use both of those tools.

Sign up for EVERYTHING!

How did I do it? Simple: by signing up for as many educational email lists, twitter feeds, and actual postal mail lists as possible, and simply reading my mail periodically. That’s it. I stay on top of information and erase/toss out information I don’t want.

Start Nationally

How do I find the lists? I start national, then go local. Nationally, I keep an eye on the following (related to my disciplines of ELA, U.S. History, SpEd, Journalism, and Computer Science):

Loads of U.S. History-related websites

Loads of English Literature-related websites

Go Local

Locally, I follow mostly (related to my disciplines of ELA, U.S. History, SpEd, Journalism, and Computer Science)

Local Museums of all sorts

Local Colleges of all sorts — vocational and liberal arts and technical

Event listings (from colleges, from meetup.com)

As you can see, I get a lot of information, all of the time. I also try to attend conferences during much of the summer, and I’ve recently discovered the wonderment of Twitter. I’ve learned a lot about opportunities through twitter chats.

Keeping on top of lists and information delivered to me regularly is also a great way to find student opportunities to enter poetry contests, math contests, public speaking contests. Through my procrastination careful monitoring of postal mail and email, I have forged (some tenuous, some very strong) relationships with all sorts of local institutions.

Use an Email Sorting Program

How you go through your email once you have gotten on to all of these lists is a very personal thing. But, since I’m a big fan of gamifying and automating many aspects of my life, I like to use The Email Game to keep my gmail inbox clean.

There are lots of other approaches to try, such as the Inbox Empty method, which will help you get through your ten billion email messages, as well.

So, to return to what I was saying earlier in this post… no. You don’t have to buy anything.

Just sign up!

This year, I have gotten about $35,000 in free PD, technology, and other goods and services just for a few minutes a day of erasing and saving email.

Photo Credit: Tracy O/Flickr

You can, too! If you need help, reach out to me @spedtools, and I’m super happy to help.