Before maternity leave, I had a container of sharpened pencils. I would start the day with 12 or so, and end third period with none. We tried a check out system, a "you take something, you leave something" system. But ultimately, I would never be able to stay on top of those darn little yellow things, and they would surely disappear. Not to mention, the pencil fairy hasn't visited my room lately, so going through 12 pencils a day isn't practical. Lately, I tell the kids, if they don't have something to write with, they can use one of the old crayons I have out for them. This works, until I have a project that I really don't want them using a broken, dull, magenta crayon on. Yesterday, things just about boiled over in my class of 7th graders when, I am not exaggerating, half of my kids did not have a single pencil to use in class. We are starting a big project that will be displayed for open house, so I was in a dilemma. NO WAY were they getting to go to their locker to get that almighty pencil. So I delved out a few shiny new pencils just to get something done. Meanwhile, I am handing out these pencils right as my principal walks in to bust one of my kids for what I can only assume had something to do with his locker and illegal substances. I know he had bigger fish to fry than my handing out of pencils, but I wonder what his stance is on the topic [or how it is handled site wide for that face, hmmm, staff meeting agenda item?!?].
But what SHOULD I have done. Is middle school an acceptable age to start the "too bad, so sad" mentality? No pencil, no work. But then they get exactly what they want, to get out of work. And hey, you would think a grade might persuade them to do something, but bottom line, it does not. Middle school you fight not only the students perception of grades being important, and in my experience, you also fight the parents on occasion. These two-three years are seen as complete throw away years by too many. Kids know that these grades have little effect on their lives, and if they also hear that message from home, well, then there you go.
So, do I supply pencils? Make extra copies of the handouts and notebooks when they do not bring theirs to class? Or do I let them sit there, take the F, and call it a day? Because they need to learn some how, some way, that the world is not always going to supply them for their unpreparedness, and is this the way to do it? Last year, this issue was minimal, and I seemed able to put out the fires with ease. But man, this group is killing me when it comes to being prepared, and even though it is the fourth quarter, I need to figure out my attack plan for the next seven or so weeks.
Thoughts? Suggestions? Or maybe this post will just turn into one big rhetorical rant, and I'm ok with that too.
[image from this ten on ten, when I had pencils in my classroom]