This is one of those seemingly unimportant management issues which is often swept under the carpet by a teacher who is frantically trying to concentrate efforts on more serious issues. In a lively class, when you’ve got Mary and Matilda cat fighting, Liam smoking, Carl spitting on Graham, Steven chucking text books at Johnny and Paul making lewd comments about the support assistant’s chest – all at the same time – it’s easy just to hand a spare pen to Kyle who’s forgotten his. After all, there’s no need to get in a lather over the small stuff. Is there?
One reason we should be at least a little concerned about Kyle’s missing pen is that seemingly trivial things like this can easily trip up the most well-prepared classroom manager if they get out of hand. Why?
Because whatever you allow to happen in class, you effectively encourage.
Every time you hand over a pen from your dwindling pile of spares you effectively train your little angels in the belief that it’s perfectly acceptable to come to class without one. So before long, they’re all at it. Suddenly, one pen becomes thirty-five, you spend half the lesson handing pens out like sweeties and you’re left with a handful of chewed gunky biros and a group of kids who couldn’t give two hoots about coming to class prepared!
The bottom line is that you want to minimise the number of excuses that students will have for not starting work. Let’s face it, not having a pen is a great excuse to avoid transferring words on to paper; not having a ruler is a great excuse to avoid measuring or drawing straight lines; not having coloured pens means you can’t finish your illustrations, and not having a drawing compass makes it absolutely impossible to draw circles and give the student in front of you impromptu body piercings.
The more time you spend sourcing, fetching, carrying and monitoring equipment and resources (you do keep a record of items you lend out don’t you?) the more stressful your lessons will be, the less time you’ll have to support and manage your students, and the more dependent they will become. That’s before we take into account valuable text books and exercise books which are taken home and never seen again. Let’s get on top of this issue and make life easier for everyone.
Here are eight classroom management strategies for dealing with it…
I remember being pretty lax when it came to taking my own exercise books home as a student – they just seemed to disappear once they entered the depths of my school bag, never to be seen again. I had a new exercise book in some lessons almost every week – so by the end of term there were hundreds of little books with ‘Robert Plevin’ labels on them lying round in uncharted places, each containing about three pages of work. Maybe it’s just (disorganised) boys but it’s a problem which needs solving if you, as a teacher, don’t want all your lessons turned upside down with cries of “Miss, I need a new book”.
Your best bet is not to let them take them home in the first place. Store exercise books on a dedicated class shelf. Yes, I know you have to set homework but there’s nothing wrong with giving them a separate homework folder/book/file specifically for homework. And never send text books home – that’s what photocopiers are for.
Having said that, it is a very effective way of making sure you get your equipment back at the end of the lesson. Though now I come to think of it, I do still have a large collection of odd Woolworth’s plastic trainers; for some reason, they seemed to think a new HB pencil was a fair swap.
“Nathan, you have forgotten your materials every day this week, let’s see if we can get one positive mark on the chart tomorrow shall we?”
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I hope you enjoyed this quick tip. I took it directly from my new book ‘The Behaviour Tool Kit – Behaviour Solutions for Today’s Tough Classrooms’
If you’d like to have the BEST collection of PROVEN fast-acting solutions and answers to your most pressing classroom management problems, (for about the price of a cup of coffee), head on over to Amazon right now and get your copy. Just do a search for ‘The Behaviour Tool Kit, or search for me by name, ‘Rob Plevin’.