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    Pencil sharpening
    By Linda

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    This is an issue I've been complaining about as well. OF COURSE you make the rule that they can't sharpen while you're talking, but there are a lot of gray areas here. Obviously if you're just making announcements or reading out loud, then they are not allowed to sharpen. However, what about the times you are talking but they have to copy? I have talked to another teacher about this, and she has the same problem with sharpening during a whole-group written activity. Generally I put up with it because it's easier than having a kid tell you he or she can't do the assignment because of a broken pencil. Another issue ... kids not having pencils. This drove me crazy when I was a student teacher, so I developed what I thought was a good system to deal with it. I bought a ton of pencils that say "Teacher's Pencil," and I made a pencil sign-out. This way it was clear that I had a record of who came to school unprepared. Well, everything was going well. I didn't hear, "I don't have a pencil," for a long while. But then my pencils started getting lost. (I suppose I could have a consequence of lost recess if kids didn't bring back my pencils, but quite frankly I am terrible at enforcing consequences like that.) We do a team teaching set-up where kids come in and out of rooms all day, and apparently the pencils go with them and don't come back. Generally I'm happier buying tons of pencils than dealing with kids who interrupt lessons to say, "I don't have a pencil," though. But hey, there is a happy ending to my pencil-related woes. We do a word wall in my room where the students have to come up with clever rules and chants to remember the spelling of the words. One day when we were copying the words a kid's pencil broke and had to sharpen it. I was trying to continue the lesson, but the loud (electric) sharpener was drowning me out. I wanted to explain that word wall word, "off," has two "f's" instead of one "f" for "of." I told the kids that I was so mad because I wanted the pencil sharpener off that I added an extra f at the end for emphasis. Now whenever I get mad at the sharpener being on, I say, "I want that sharpener O-F-F." The kids begin to chant, "O-F-F! O-F-F!" Temporary sanity may be a high price to pay to teach kids one little bitty word, but at least they'll never forget how to spell "off."

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