Friday, April 20, 2012

Collateral Damage

Back when I was a wee lad in my early elementary days, the school librarian had a unique system if students wanted to borrow a pencil.  They had to leave a shoe on her desk.  The one occurrence where I needed to borrow a writing utensil happened to fall on the same day I had worn Moon Boots to school due to snow and forgot my other shoes.  If you unfamiliar with Moon Boots, allow me to fill you in.  Moon Boots are made from the same the same material they use on rocket ships to protect them as they re-enter the orbit and go a similar length up the leg as a call girl's boots.  The trauma of having to put 3 foot high article of clothing on my teacher's desk in order to complete my school work stuck with me.  I decided to use it...

From the day I became a teacher, I used the trick I'd learned when I was 8 years old.  In my time in the classroom, I never lost a single pencil.  In the majority of instances, kids aren't intentionally trying to 'steal' a supply.  The forget they have it, the bell rings, and they leave to head to their next class.

The majority of teachers I worked with took a student ID when they loaned supplies.  While this does achieve knowing who has what, it does nothing to help students remember to return things.  No child runs into the hallway or out for recess without realizing they are missing a shoe.  At the end of the day, my colleagues often had lots of IDs and few pencils.  Further, if kids are leaving without their IDs it may cause additional complications for them in terms of buying lunch, getting on the bus, checking out books, etc. depending on how your school uses IDs.

Some students will refuse to take their shoe off.  That's easy.  No pencil for you! Bring your supplies to class.  Some teachers I've shared this about worried about the smell.  First, I never actually had them put the shoe on the desk like my childhood librarian.  They just tossed their shoe to the side of the desk.  Most junior high classes already smell like the inside of a shoe, so I rarely had much of a problem with additional odor.  While some kids certainly didn't care for this method of borrowing, most really got a kick out of it!

Marcus Malone didn't like it.  He was a student in my summer school class.  Marcus was not in summer school because he was a genius.  I don't recall him ever bringing anything he was supposed to have.  He reacted with the same shock and disapproval every morning when I told him he'd need to leave a shoe if he wanted to borrow a pencil.  "Aww, man! I don't wanna take off my shoe!" He'd go back to his seat and seriously think it over (this took a lot out of Marcus) while class went along, and usually would elect to not borrow the pencil.

One morning he walks in and asks to borrow a pencil.  I tell him he can absolutely borrow a pencil if he leaves a shoe.  Marcus got a big smile on his face, unzipped his backpack, pulled out a spare shoe and set it on my desk.  In all the years I'd taught, no one had ever tried this.  Kids find all the loop holes!

For the rest of the summer, Marcus brought a third shoe every day.  He never once could remember a writing utensil, but could always remember an extra shoe.  Accepting the extra shoe didn't really serve the purpose of helping him remember he had borrowed something, but I really loved his out of the box thinking.  Him bringing an extra shoe daily instead of a pencil cracked me up and made him feel like he'd 'beaten me' (he had!).  Still, I recommend this loaner trick to all teachers.

Wanna know what my bathroom pass was?  :)

No comments:

Post a Comment