Pencil in a Routine
Having a classroom management procedure in place in your classroom is a given.
That’s the stuff nightmares are made of.
But, what happens if you don’t have other simple systems in place once the school year gets rolling?
Maybe nothing. Maybe a little bit of confusion. Probably nothing to lose sleep over.
Let’s look at the other side of the coin: What does it look when you DO have those smaller routines in place? Things such as bathroom passes or who waters the plants, how you line up, and yes, even how to sharpen those student pencils step by step?
Setting Up Your Best Classroom Routines Solutions
Some things you should consider when you are designing the routines to solve your classroom chaos problems.
Make sure you think about:
- What materials do the students need?
- Where are those materials stored currently?
- How often do they need the materials?
- Can the materials be kept at their desk, at a group of desks, or just one spot in the classroom?
- How many students will be required to pass out the materials if they are not kept individually?
- What type of traffic flow do you want the students to use when completing the routine?
Of course, there are a million other considerations (how will social distancing impact these routines, what if a child is absent, etc.), but the smaller details can be worked out once you have a rough draft and even later once you have real-world tested it with your kids.
A Fun (and Easy) Way to Manage Pencil Sharpening
Here’s one potential idea I have used in the past with great success:
Step 1: Gather all the pencils from students (this works only IF you are able to do community classroom supplies).
Step 2: Grab 2-3 plastic cups from the dollar store or even old options from your kitchen cupboards at home.
Step 3: Add a “Sharpened” label to the front of one cup. Add a “To Be Sharpened” label to a second. Optional: “Extras” label to a third.
Step 4: Place the cups on a prominent shelf or on the teacher desk, next to the pencil sharpener. Optional: If you have student pods of desks, you can place 2 cups on each pod in the center.
Step 5: Assign 2 students who arrive to school early-ish each day to be the pencil sharpeners. They will make sure anything in the “To Be Sharpened” cups get sharpened and placed in the “Sharpened” cups.
That’s the entire system my friends!
I have found that a good classroom system is easy, has 5 or fewer steps involved, and can be done by anyone in the classroom.
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Testing and Tuning
Like everything else you do in the classroom, you’ll want to test out your new system before making changes.
It may not actually work as well as it looks on paper and you’ll only know after you explain the action steps to the students and have them try the system.
Of course, you’ll have to consistently reinforce even the best classroom routine repeatedly throughout the year, as somehow even small school breaks create insomnia situations upon return.
But, if you have a simple enough routine (no more than 5 steps), you review those steps frequently until students feel comfortable enough to even do them when you’re not present in the room, and you make adjustments as necessary, then you’ll have a tested and well-oiled procedure that will take you through the end of the year like a million dollar machine.
And there’s nothing quite like knowing your classroom environment is working at the maximum efficiency, even when you need a mental health day for yourself.
What other ways have you used for pencil sharpening that have worked for you in the past?
Feel free to share them in the comments below! We love lots of different ideas for lots of different teacher preferences!
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