The pencil, a universal symbol for schools. We see their images on Back to School advertisements, in flyers, on school newsletters and on classroom walls. Who would think that they could cause so much controversy.
The inspiration for this topic came from I read a post on Twitter by Danny Steele @SteeleThoughts about pencils. It read
“If your student forgets his pencil, give him a pencil. Don’t make a thing of it. There are better ways to teach a kid responsibility.”
You would not believe the responses. It had received over 1200 likes, over 600 retweets and 25 replies and counting. Should this even be something that has to be put out there as a message on Social Media? Yup, apparently so based on the conversations that ensued. There seem to be three camps out there. One camp feels, just give the kid a pencil, another feels that there needs to be some sort of responsibility and therefore require collateral and another is very cut and dry, if the kid doesn’t bring a pencil they will be asked to leave the room.
There are some students who come to school without having eaten breakfast, have no lunch, no gym strip, they have clothes that looks old or too small and yes, may have no pencil. Isn’t providing them with a pencil an easy fix? Quietly handing a student a pencil when they need one, without making a federal case out of it can be the first step in building a positive relationship with them. It’s a simple gesture which can say a whole lot. It tells the student that you want to provide them with what they need to be successful in your class.
Sure, there’s the possibility that the student is being irresponsible and sending a subtle message to the teacher that they “couldn’t be bothered to bring a pencil” but isn’t it our job to teach them responsibility and encourage them to be actively involved in the class? Step one, hand over a pencil, ask for collateral if that’s what you want, but sending them out of class? Surely, that’s not the way to deal with it. Treating a student with kindness, getting on with the day’s lesson, isn’t that the easiest route to take? The least disruptive to the class?
Haven’t we all forgotten a pencil at some point in our lives? I know that on occasion I have shown up at a meeting without a pencil. I haven’t been singled out and embarrassed by anyone. I have been provided what I need at my table without issue. Actually, most of the time there are pads of paper and plenty of pencils and pens laid out at the table in anticipation that we, the adults, came unprepared. Not once have I ever been asked to leave a meeting because I forgot my pencil. (Though, I’m sure we all have wished at least once, that we had been. Meetings are not always a whole lot of fun.)
Please, just give the kid a pencil.