Saturday, August 25, 2012

Mo' Pencils Mo' Problems

Well the school year has begun. I have not been posting as much as I would like to. New year, new kids, new school, new classroom, old stresses.

Having been in fifth grade last year, I had forgotten about how much pencils stress me out.

During my first year teaching first grade at my last school, my system was pretty basic. Their pencil was dull, they go and sharpen it. Yeah...dumb idea. As you could've guessed, they broke the electric pencil sharpener. Then they broke the new electric pencil sharpener. Then the custodian decided to dump said new pencil sharpener and ended up also dumping the plastic top that holds pencil sharpener together and it would no longer sharpen. *sigh*

My second year teaching I came up with the amazing idea that if their pencil becomes dull, they replace it with one in a cup labeled "sharp pencils". There were ten pencils at the beginning of the day for such exchanges. At the end of the day, I would sharpen the pencils. I failed to realize that several students brought exciting pencils and arguments would thus ensue the following day as to which pencil belonged to which student. *face slap to forehead*

My third year teaching I had practically given up on pencils and allowed mechanical pencils to enter the room. Little did I realize that first graders do not possess the skills necessary to neither keep needle sharp pencils from bare arms nor keep them from constantly breaking. *tear*

Each subsequent year thereafter pencils have been my biggest nemesis. I remember one year using a red Sharpie to write their numbers on them. That didn't work either.

Last year it wasn't a problem because fifth graders are quite the lofty bunch. They have hoards of writing utensils of all types. And this year I didn't want to come into my new classroom with my old problems. I racked my brain this summer thinking of ways to beat my nemesis.

And then it hit me.

I remembered seeing a system (that may work) years and years ago when I substituted in a first grade classroom. It seems so simple, and yet so brilliant. Here's how it works:

1. Students walk in the room and take a pencil from the "sharp" bucket.

2. They work. Pencil gets dull, they put it in the "dull" bucket.

3. They take a sharp pencil from the "sharp" bucket.

4. At the end of the day, pencil collectors collect ALL the pencils and put them in the "dull" bucket whether they are dull or not.

5. I sharpen them after the kids leave and then put them in the "sharp" bucket.

So far, this system is working. I also have to say at the end of the day, I'm not too stressed about pencils. I have a ridiculously fast pencil sharpener that I bought for $40 at Staples. Yeah, it's THAT good.