While standing in the school supply section of Target this afternoon I overheard two parents shopping with their elementary aged daughter. Item 1 on the list was 4 dozen pencils. (I’ll agree this is on the higher end but bear with it). The father says, “Why do you need so many pencils? I could use the same pencil for a year.” When the list asked for one standard eraser, he seemed slightly perturbed that they were only sold in pack of two.
While I do not intend to judge this man for his reaction, I think he deserves a response on behalf of all teachers
To the parent wondering WHY SO MANY PENCILS?
At the beginning of each school year teachers are given a set of school supplies from their office. Typically this is about one of each item per kid (24 boxes of crayons, 2 sets of pencils, 24 whiteboard markers, etc.). These are the bright and shiny supplies that we so tirelessly stack on each student’s desk so that the classroom looks warm and inviting on that first day of school. The remainder of our supplies come from donations from students or our own pockets.
The number of supplies we go through each year is more than you can imagine! Even as a teacher, I often wonder if there are small trolls that come out at night stealing the pencils and losing the glue sticks. Trust me, we do everything we can to keep track of those precious school supplies. We color code them by table to hold kids responsible. We write tiny student numbers on each pencil. We do one less craft because the glue simply won’t last till June. Just think about yourself as an adult. How many times a year do you put a new pen in your purse because despite your plan to always leave it in there so it’s available, it mysteriously disappears?
24 pencils x 20 kids = 480 pencils!
That is a lot of pencils! The lives of these pencils are often short or rough. Pencils may be chewed on by students and the erasers shamelessly ripped off. Pencils are taken from one room to the next (or home) and left behind. When sharpening pencils, they quickly shrink down to nothing despite the tip never actually getting sharp. Another reality is not every student will send in school supplies. I understand it may be frustrating to take money from your own hard-earned paycheck to support another family’s child, however there is one thing I have learned time and time again in education. It takes a village. Today you may be providing a pencil to a child whose family didn’t send one in. Tomorrow that same child may be the only student in the whole class who agrees to lend your child a pencil when theirs has mysteriously disappeared for the fourth time that day. Tomorrow they may offer to play with the lonely child at recess. Tomorrow they may be best friends working together on the reading centers.
Sir, I know that sometimes the requests of teachers seem like a lot to ask or annoyingly specific. Please know we are all working hard with one end result in mind – raising our next generation of children to be productive, kind, and generous adults. If you are a family whose able to grab that extra pack of pencils, please know that your child’s teacher will be so grateful. If you are not able to send even the requested supplies, please know that we will take care of your child and see the many characteristics your child contributes to our classroom.
Happy School Year to all the teachers, families, and students out there! May the odds ever be in your favor🙂