No one understands the madness about managing pencils expect another teacher. I tried to vent about it to friend of mine and she looked at me like I had lost it. Well actually I kind of had. I tried a lot of clever and cute ideas but in the end there was only one way to save my sanity.
Surrender and just buy more pencils. I stockpile an overabundance of pencils. Once a month I prep a boatload so they’re ready to refill as needed. I find I don’t need to put out more any sooner than that. I do make a red mark on each one so students know which ones stay in the classroom—not in their backpacks.
My students don’t have desks. They sit at a table in groups of four. A communal container sits in the center with pencils and erasers. They bring pencils up to me and I sharpen them. It may take a few minutes longer at transition but I find this is easier than a line at the sharpener or a constant need to stand over a trashcan manually sharpening. I also train them to check their pencils as we are transitioning, not five minutes after we begin work.
For those that have a chronic need to get pencils sharpened I send them to find one at another table where some other child is more than happy to hand them one. And for the occasional person who seems to always have a smashed pencil mid assignment, well we know that’s a behavior not pencil management issue.
Now if that doesn’t work for you here are others suggestions:
- Have containers labeled sharpened and needs sharpening. Students trade out as necessary. A student helper sharpens them daily.
- Students either bring their own or you give them pencils with their names on it. If a student looses or doesn’t have one, they have to use mini golf pencils.
It doesn’t matter what strategy you implement as long as you stay sane trying.
© The Uncluttered Teacher
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