Classroom management: Pencils

Pencils are one of those things that are not taught in your undergraduate classes.  Sad, because they can cause so much frustration in your day-to-day life as a teacher.  I thought I would share a few of the things I learned - many times - the hard way!

It was my second year of teaching and I was very nervous.  I had a year under my belt so I knew there was a lot about teaching that I had yet to learn and I knew I didn't know everything.  I was at a new school so I wanted to make a good impression.  I had worked hours on my room and I THOUGHT I had everything ready for my students.  I had just found out that I was going to be the teacher with the oversized class.  I was supposed to have up to 30 first grade students that year with an teacher's assistant. The T.A. wouldn't be hired until weeks later after the final numbers were in so I was on my own for now.  And I started out the year with 32 first graders.  Yes, I was 2 over, but the district assumed a couple of students would move in the first few weeks.  I didn't even have enough desks for all my students at this point.

After the parents left and I took roll, I gave my students an assignment to fill out.  My students began digging through their brand new supplies but very, very, very few of the pencils were sharpened.  And no one had told me that I should have a class set of pencils sharpened and ready to go the first day.  

So, I did what any 2nd year of teaching teacher would do.  I told my students to line up at the pencil sharpener.  This was in the olden days when you had to sharpen your own pencils, not use an electric sharpener.  There were probably 25 kids in line at the sharpener.  You can imagine what that was like!  So, then I took over the cranking of the sharpener, thinking it would speed things along.  And guess who walked in?  It was my principal AND the Superintendent of the district.  Not the best way to make a good impression.

So, my teacher tip is, buy a class set of pencils plus a few extras.  Sharpen them before the first day so you won't make the same mistake that I did.

I have a free parent note for you.  Click on the picture to download it.

Looking for more tips?  Check out my Classroom Management Pinterest board.  Click on the picture below.

Fern has a few tips about pencils to share with you, too.  Be sure to hop over to her blog!

Fern and I are adding something new this summer.  Summer is a great time to catch up on your reading.  I love to read teacher blogs and the latest teacher idea books.  Stop by Fern's blog and my blog each week for Tuesday Teacher Tips.  We hope you will share your ideas, too.  

Each week we will choose one person who shared a tip on our blog who will get a $10 shopping trip.  We will announce the winner in the following Tuesday's post.  The winner for June 3rd post will be announced on June 10th's post.

Do you have a pencil tip to share?  Be sure to include your email so I can contact you if you're the winner of the $10 shopping trip.

Looking for more ideas?  Check out these!


Ms. Perry's Peaches said...

To prevent unwanted pencil sharpening I draw sleepy face on the bottom end of a lunch bag, cut the top half and voila intstant silence from the sharpener.

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megan said...

I have my students sharpen two pencils right away in the morning as part of our morning routine. Then if during the day they break both pencils they go over to the ready to write pencil cup and exchange one of their pencils for a new one. They put their broken one into the please sharpen cup.One of my classroom jobs is a pencil sharpener and they sharpen the pencils in the please sharpen cup every day. It seems to work ok for my kids. It does take a little teaching to get them to exchange their pencil and not just take a new one.

Unknown said...

I have a "Pencil inspector". They have to show their pencil to the inspector to see if it needs sharpening. If so, they go put in the unsharpened cup and get one out of the sharpened cup. You never hear the pencil sharpener during class time. I keep them sharpened and ready at the beginning of the day. Students are less likely to want to say it needs sharpened if a classmate is going to check it. It works good for me. I forgot my email before lol

Unknown said...

I sharpen pencils before my students come to school. They swap pencils with me if theirs breaks during the day. I like the idea of a pencil inspector.

Suzy Q said...

I have students bring a small sharpener as I got rid of the electric sharpener my first year. If it doesn't have a case, you have to use it directly over the garbage can. Students bring their own pencils, which makes them take better care of them. Don't hate, but my biggest pencil issue is tossing the ones that have languished in the lost and found for days!

tokyoshoes at hotmail dot com

Unknown said...

On the first days of school, I ask for parent volunteers to sharpen pencils at home and send them back to school. I send them A LOT of unsharpened pencils and they send them back when they're sharpened. I usually end up with a great supply of sharpened pencils. It's great when you're in a pinch and don't have time to sharpen pencils. Just grab a bunch and pass them out. I also have a "dull" and "sharp" bin/cup next to the sharpener so kids can trade out and get new pencils when needed.

Unknown said...

I have a "sharp" and a "dull" bucket (small buckets from the dollar spot at Target). My students know that if they need a sharp pencil during the day they put their dull one in the bucket and take a sharp one. I also ask for sharpened pencils on my supply list, and ask for yellow #2 pencils....that way, students aren't fighting over the "fancy" pencils.

MissKim1126 said...

I am late reading this post, but wanted to share my solution to this problem because I, too, was ready to pull my hair out! I happened to come across a TpT seller (The Wise Owl Teacher), who had a free resource titled, "Winning the Pencil War." I tweaked her idea a bit, and I was amazed at the instant change in the reduction of interruptions for broken pencils (I started in January). So, each student was given their own pencil pouch labeled with their name, given 8 sharpened pencils with their initials on them inside the pouch, and a brand new eraser, initialed as well. If a pencil broke or was too dull to use, the student was to silently place the broken pencil back in the pouch and take out a sharpened pencil to continue working. I collected the pouches on Friday and students who had all 8 pencils (without bite marks and with erasers intact), received a ticket in their pouch on Monday morning to go to the Special Eraser Box to choose a fun pencil top eraser. Long explanation, BUT, IT WORKED LIKE A CHARM and I had NO pencil problems or hair pulling for the rest of the year!