Do pencils in your classroom seem to grow legs and walk away? Where do all the pencils go? Here you’ll learn possible reasons your pencil system in the classroom isn’t working.
Go ahead and grab a FREE Planning Guide to help you improve how you manage and organize pencils in your classroom. Don’t worry…you’re not alone!
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Why Pencil Management in the Classroom Matters
Teachers spend countless hours preparing curriculum maps and lesson plans.
Our teacher preparation programs stress effective pedagogy and test prep strategies.
Yet there is ONE thing deeply lacking that we crave the most as teachers: organization hacks and tips.
Especially when it comes to pencils! If students can’t keep working pencils on a daily basis, then none of those lesson plans even matter.
How in the world do teachers get their students to stop losing/ breaking/ chewing on/ and stealing pencils!?!
The Best Pencil Management System EVER!
I’ve tried it all!
After years of trial and error, I finally figured out the best pencil management system ever to use in my classroom.
I walk through that pencil system step-by-step in this detailed post with pictures.
BUT FIRST, I needed to learn WHY my other pencil systems weren’t working.
And if you are a teacher reading this, I think it’s helpful for YOU to know the possible reasons why your pencil system isn’t working either.
So I’m sharing those reasons with you.
1–Your Pencil Management Isn’t Working Because It’s Not An Actual “System”
Giving your students a pencil and telling them to keep it sharpened isn’t a “system.”
Having extra pencils available in case they one isn’t a ” pencil system” either.
To set up a TRUE pencil management system in your classroom, you need to ask yourself questions like this:
- What will I say to my students when I give them their first pencil?
- Where do I want my students to keep their pencils throughout the day?
- Do I want all students sharpening pencils during class time? If not, when can they sharpen pencils?
- What should they do if a pencil breaks and it’s not a designated time to sharpen them?
- Will we share a class set of pencils or is each student responsible for bringing their own?
It may seem tedious asking all these nitty-gritty questions, but the little things make a HUGE difference with your pencil management system.
2–Your Pencil System Isn’t Working Because Your Students Haven’t Been “Trained”
Another major problems with pencils has to do with classroom procedures.
My co-teachers call me the “Procedures-Queen!”
I’ve been following the procedures training of Harry Wong’s First Days of School since my first year of teaching!
And it WORKS!
One of the reasons my students never lost their pencils in my class anymore is because I spend several days training them.
Here are more “5” Tips Posts:
- 1– 5 Ways Teachers Use Plickers Incorrectly
- 2– 5 Ways Teachers ‘Encourage” Student Misbehavior
- 3– 5 Creative Ways to Celebrate Martin Luther King, Jr. Day
- 4–5 Easy Steps to Planning Your Full School Year in Advance
Repetition leads to mastery. This is true for pencil management and organization.
Remember those questions from above? Once I know the answers, I walk my kids through the steps MANY TIMES!
I want THEM to know what to do at all times with their pencils. I also want them to know what will happen if they do or don’t follow the pencil system.
Taking the time to train students keeps your pencil system flowing well.
3–Your Classroom Pencils Keep Disappearing Because There’s No Reward for Keeping Them
When you have a chance to see my detailed pencil management system, you will notice that I give rewards to students to follow the system.
I also have a consequence in place for those who don’t.
Although it seems like students should be motivated by just having a pencil to complete their work, that’s not the case with most kids.
Your rewards don’t have to cost a lot of money! And your consequence shouldn’t be punitive.
But NOT having any rewards or consequences with your pencil system could be one of
Here are some simple ideas for rewards:
- An earned “Special Ink Pen” day
- 5 minutes of extra recess
- Sit anywhere in the classroom for ___ minutes
- Wear a special badge that says Pencil Champion
Be creative! The point is to find that “sweet spot” for your students. What will motivate them to keep pencils from disappearing?
This FREE Guide to planning your pencil system will help you decide what rewards / consequences work best for you. (no email sign-up required)
4–Your Pencil System Isn’t Working Because the Actual Pencils Aren’t Working
This one may seem silly, but trust me–it’s not!
Cheap pencils frustrate kids! They frustrate everyone.
And please don’t get me started on mechanical issues that have issues. In fact, I have completely banned mechanical pencils from my class!
If your classroom pencil sharpener takes FOREVER to sharpen one pencil, that is also going to throw your pencil system out of whack!
It is worth it to invest in good quality pencils like these and a great sharpener.
Related Post: The BEST Classroom Pencil Sharpeners EVER!–Manual & Electrical
Don’t underestimate how much the “little things” can disrupt the “main things.”
Give your pencil system the best chance of actually working in your classroom with good pencils and sharpeners.
5–Maybe Your Class is Just Boring
OUCH! Yes, major ouch!
I hate to admit this, but I used to give out worksheet after worksheet to my students.
I thought “rigorous” meant being busy all day doing written work.
But working hard doesn’t equal worksheets!
Learning shouldn’t only be written work. If it is, your students may be “losing” their pencils on purpose to rebel.
Even the best pencil systems will crumble if the class is boring. Here are some ideas to try:
- Have a “NO Pencil” day on purpose! Allow students to write with fun ink pens or colored pencils.
- Play games that don’t involve pencils and papers for warm-ups.
- Use technology like Plickers for assessment.
- Find centers that allow hands-on practice instead of written work.
Avoiding the habits that lead to boring teaching could be the KEY to solving your classroom pencil problems!
Extra Tips for Effective Pencil Management
In the free guide I’ve been talking about, I also include a list of tips for effective pencil management.
Be sure to grab this goody HERE!
Happy planning teacher friend.
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Emily [email protected]
Hi, You discusses here five reasons, that’s why a pencil system is not working. As a mother, I totally agree with your thoughts. And I am going to apply this to my kids. Thank you so much for sharing this.
Thanks for sharing your input! I hope these tips work with your kids. 🙂