Made 4 Math: Pencil Dilemma Solved
This year I have really been working on small things. Those small things that really are trivial but that become a big deal in your mind. Things that happen over and over, get you irritated for no reason, seem completely illogical, and that no one else really gets.
For me, my biggest one throughout all four years of my teaching is the pencil dilemma. Students who will NOT bring a pencil to class.
I have been more frustrated than ever with this problem this year because I feel enraged that I provide them everything (paper, binders, calculators, and all other school supplies and even a place to store them) and they cannot bring the ONE AND ONLY thing I ask of them. They don't even have to carry a textbook, binder, or notebook to class. Just a pencil!
I know other teachers who make students buy a pencil from them, give them a personal item to trade, send them to the office, let them go without, etc. But for me, all of those solutions interrupt my teaching, their learning, and really ruin my mood for that class period. I don't want to deal.
So my solution is literally like the simplest easiest plainest idea ever....but it has worked wonders for my peace and sanity.
I start class by asking who needs to borrow a pencil (because it infuriates me when a students lets half the class go by doing nothing before asking for a pencil!) and as I hand them out, I write their name on the board under a headline that says 'Pencils'. I started this as a reminder to myself to get the pencil back from that student. But then something magical happened...seeing their name on the board made them remember to give it back to me on their own.
I have probably went through at least 7-8 dozen pencils this year but with my new 'system' I have used the same 4-5 pencils for quite a while now.
Friday, in my class of 12, I had to hand out 5 pencils. I was very close to getting angry when I stopped myself. What is my end goal here? I want teaching and learning to go uninterrupted. So I wrote their names down, handed out the pencils, and they worked hard the whole hour. And I ended up with five pencils handed back to me.
I know that I did not solve the root of the problem. I know that I probably could do something better to help teach my students accountability and responsibility.
But ultimately, I need to be the best teacher I can be and I can't do that when my blood is boiling with rage.
Simple fix = calm blooded me.