About five years ago, I had a really impromptu conversation with a fellow teacher from down the hall. I asked her how she handles students who forget or do not have a pencil with them when they come to class. After this conversation, I asked a number of other teachers how they handle the same situation. Some were pretty black and white:
"I will ask them to borrow one from a friend."or
"I will let them go back to their locker, but only three times each quarter."Other teachers were less stringent in their responses:
"It depends if it is the first time or a repeat offender."and
"I have a collection of brand new and used pencils in a drawer. Students can borrow them anytime."Still others saw the pencil conversation through a different lens. For several, the answer was a lesson in economics.
"I want students to understand the need to come prepared, so I have them for sale in my room."I was reminded of the economics of forgetting a pencil when I recently visited a school over an hour's drive from home. I couldn't help but take a picture of it with my phone:
- What does the way a teacher handles students who forget pencils, say about his/her educational philosophy?
- What does the way an administrator handles adults who do not come prepared to meetings or professional learning, say about his/her educational philosophy?
- Is the way a forgetful administrator or teacher expects to be treated similar to the way he/she treats staff and students in the pencil context described above?
- How would you want the teacher of your children to handle the "I forgot my pencil" scenario?