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Tuesday, February 1, 2011

¡I Need Sacapuntation!

It comes up at least a few times a day, usually when I'm in the middle of something very important. "What do we see in this picture?" I'll ask. "Mister," one girl will nearly scream, "my lápiz!" The pencils the kids find on the floor of the hallway in the moments before class don't require much pressure before they break. What comes next is usually enough to stall my lesson plan for a good three or four minutes.

"¿Carlos, tienes un sacapuntas?" He'll shake his head, as will all of the other students in her vicinity. She'll get up and start asking students in other parts of the room. I'll inevitably try to continue the lesson until I accept its futility.

"Serafina, can you use a pen?" I'll ask. "Mister, how can I erase with pen? Don't you have a sharpener?" she'll respond. I'll shake my head no, thinking of the many things that have been stolen out of my desk this year. My sacaputnas left with more than one grapadora months ago. I've been slowly transferring all of my stuff into a filing cabinet that I can lock, but the transition hasn't been happening quickly enough. I'm lucky the kids don't care to steal my books.

"Mister, I need to go to the office for sharpen," Serafina will declare. Usually, I'll scramble for some alternative solution, mostly because I'm in denial that I work in an environment in which leaving class is the only viable solution for a broken pencil. I'll duplicate Serafina's work in asking her classmates, once more, if anyone has a sharpener. They'll open their bags to demonstrate they have neither a sharpener nor a pencil to borrow. Some of them probably do, but don't want it stolen. "How about...." I'll begin, but Serafina will interrupt. "¡Mister, I need sacapuntation!" Her Spanglish will make us all giggle, and in the absurdity of the moment, with a sad smile on my face, I'll say, "Okay, Serafina, but please make it quick."

5 comments:

  1. Have you considered having a box of golf pencils available to loan out? They're terrible to write with, so students will hate using them (and thus be incentivized to have their own pencils available) but the pencils work, so students don't need to leave the class.

    Also, golf pencils are cheap and easy to notice, meaning it's more likely that you'll remember to get them back when you're dismissing the class.

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  2. I know, right? It seems like such a simple solution. But it's not.

    At my school, teachers change classrooms almost every period. You can't leave pencils in the classrooms because they're pretty much gone by the end of the day, and the ones that are still in the room are broken and on the floor, which is a hassle to clean up. I can carry pencils from room to room with me, but in the hassle of trying to get to one class to another in only three minutes, I often forget to take all my supplies, and the pencils I did hand out are also usually gone by the end of the day. Additionally, in order to get pencils, I either have to get them from the supply room, which entails finding the secretary and filling out a supply request form (big hassle) or picking them up from Staples on my way to work (another big hassle). When I weigh all of the costs and stresses that come with other solutions, I usually find that the current state of affairs is about as good as it gets.

    Things would be a lot better if we had our own rooms and materials were stolen less often.

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  3. I get my school to buy boxes of golf pencils. The kids hate them. I give them out.

    I also get the school to buy those little metal sharpeners. A gross lasted two years. I didn't sweat losing them. The kids take them by accident; they don't steal them.

    Plus I try to toss a sharpener in my pocket each morning. It avoids the nuisance you describe.

    Jonathan

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  4. Agreed...if only I could remember to do that every day and not lose them between handing them out to students and changing classes...;)

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  5. This lack of personal responsibility doesn't end in the lower grades.
    In her fifties, my mom is still taking community college courses for her AA, because she sacrificed her youth for me. She told me a hilarious story of a younger student asking her for a pencil at the start of a test in a remedial math test. My mom, of course, refused to bail out that slacker.

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