One Amazingly Simple Solution to Keep Your Pencils from Disappearing
At 7:55a.m., I had 100 freshly sharpened pencils in our “Sharp” bucket to start the day.
By 8:05a.m., I had a student asking me for a pencil.
“W.H.A.T?!” *chokes on a donut* (No judgement, I was pregnant at the time).
I can remember my brain screaming, “How in the world?!…Where did all the pencils go?!” If you’re a teacher, you know exactly what I’m talking about. This might be a common problem in your class right now.
I soon discovered the ANSWER to the mystery of the disappearing pencils.
I saw a student open his pencil box which revealed about a dozen pencils…Out of curiosity, I asked the rest of the class to open their pencil cases as well. Students had anywhere from 5 to 15 pencils in their boxes!
Mystery solved! CASE CLOSED! Literally, the cases were closed over all the pencils.
Right then, I knew I needed a new pencil system. That’s when I discovered Pen Pal holders! A Pen Pal is a rubber pencil holder that can stick to a desk. Here’s a link to see it yourself!
Phase 1 of My New Pencil System:
- Each student gets 1 (or 2!) Pen Pal holders attached to their desk, where they must keep their pencil(s) at all times when they are not being used.
Yay! Now students have a specific place for their pencils that isn’t cluttered underneath crayons, markers, or glue in their pencil boxes.
Phase 2 of My New Pencil System:
2. Add “Pencil Police” to your list of classroom jobs.
Here’s What the PENCIL POLICE Does:
- The Pencil Police checks each student’s desk at a time of the day where students are not at their desk (Read-to-Self time works great!). The Pencil Police can do a “security walk through” once a day, several times a day, or every other day. It’s up to you!
- If the student’s pencil is in their pen pal holder, the Pencil Police will put a piece of candy (or whatever incentive you choose) in that student’s desk.
- Teacher Tip: Make the Pencil Police come to life with their own police hat and fanny pack (which can hold whatever incentive you decide to use, such as: candy, mini erasers, gum, school bucks, etc).
And just like THAT! No more disappearing pencils!!!
My students made sure their pencils were always in their Pen Pal spot when they weren’t using them. Not only were we going through less pencils as a class, I was sharpening fewer pencils too! If your pencils keep disappearing, give this “out of the box” pencil policy a try! #punintended
2 Common Praises Teachers Need to Stop Giving Their Students
STOP saying, “Great job!”
START getting specific and intentional with your praises.
I’ve been there. In the attempt to motivate and encourage 25 students all day long, for 5 days a week, it’s easy to throw out, “Great job” praises like they’re confetti.
In order to create self-sufficient and confident learners, praises need to be intentional.
So next time, when Johnny shows you his painting from art class, instead of saying, “Great job,” tell Johnny what job he did great. You can say, “Cool, Johnny! The colors you added really make the picture POP!” With this specific praise, Johnny knows exactly how he’s done a “great job” painting.
Congratulations! You’ve just produced a self-sufficient, confident learner!
“I Love How…”
STOP saying, “I love how…”
START loving your students for who they are and not for what they do.
For example, the statement, “I love how Susan is standing quietly in line,” subjectively communicates to other students, “We will only be loved if we are standing quietly in line.”
Using an “I love how…” statement ultimately conveys subjective judgement to students that their worth is dependent upon pleasing their teacher.
Rather than creating this behavior of dependency in students and shame in other students, demonstrate to your students that they are loved no matter what. This requires a change in thinking as an educator and a breaking of old habits.
Tell yourself that it’s not about you, it’s about being direct, objective, professional, and conveying to students they are loved for who they are, not what they do.
Instead, you can say, “Susan is standing in line quietly.” By calling attention to Susan’s behavior in an objective manner, you’ve accomplished three things:
The entire class has been reminded of correct line behavior expectations from a simple and objective comment.
For Susan, intrinsic motivation has taken place! Given reassurance that her line behavior is correct, she will most likely continue to follow line rules because she wants to, not because she feels like she will be shamed if she doesn’t.
Other students have a positive student role model to model their own line behavior after, and at the same time are not feeling shamed and insecure. They know they are still loved.
By making these small changes, you’ll stop producing students who are dependent on your opinion and start producing students who are self-sufficient and confident. As a result, you’ll become a more objective, intentional, and professional educator. And you’ll give your students what they need to grow!