If you read this blog regularly, you probably know already that I have a long list of complaints about my students: laziness, whining, extreme aggression toward other children...you name it, I've probably bemoaned it.
One of the most disappointing things I've encountered in my teaching career is when students show such an enormous lack of respect for classroom materials and supplies. At the beginning of my first year in the classroom, I bought colorful caddies to sit on each table and filled them to the brim with brand new supplies: pencils, pens, erasers and pencil sharpeners. Not more than a week later, everything was broken, missing, or defaced. My fellow second grade teachers and I made a mutual decision to stop giving our students post-its to jot on, because inevitably we would find post-its scattered all over the floor, ripped up into pieces, inscribed with inappropriate language or being made into flip books. Some of my students used markers to draw on pencils, on our desk caddies, on the floor.
This isn't, of course, a universal problem. A great many of my students treat their supplies exactly the way I remember treating mine in school, with the utmost care -- each pencil and eraser tucked lovingly into their pristine pencil case. (I hate to generalize here, but let's face it: Most of them are girls.) But every time I turn around, I inevitably catch someone scribbling doodles on a post-it and then ripping it into pieces that end up on the carpet, or someone else drawing on his notebook with a dry erase marker, or someone else using a scissors to whittle a pencil. (Why do you even have a dry erase marker? How did the scissors end up on your desk instead of in the scissors bin where they belong?) One of our students routinely snaps pencils in half when he gets angry. (Are you tempted to suggest that we give him a squishy ball instead? Been there, done that, our students managed to break the squishy balls.) My friend Edward managed to color all over the bottom halves of his sneakers with red marker (which then bled onto the floor, leaving red streaks.) Several of our students have managed to use their pencils to bore holes through the protective covering over their nametags, scribbling over their names until they were little more than black streaks.
How do you teach your students to respect their supplies?