Home > Process Teaching, Stressed Out K-12 > Five Simple Steps to Eliminate Classroom Pencil Sharpening Distractions

Five Simple Steps to Eliminate Classroom Pencil Sharpening Distractions

Photo Credit by Ela Plante


Have you been overwhelmed with the process of building a system that works for managing student behaviors? Are those student behaviors costing your student achievement levels to drop?


K – 12 Education: Stressed Out Series 6.1

Last year I worked with a teacher I called Ms. Ann. She described her out of control classroom as the group of students that were constantly getting out of their seats, talking with each other during her lessons, and texting when they were suppose to be working.

I was able to help clearly identify some of Ms. Ann’s immediate problems for paving her classroom potholes, which were things like the noise of a pencil sharpener at inappropriate times during her lesson. Can we take a look at that for a minute? Ms. Ann discovered she didn’t have a process for eliminating the problem. The students would enter the room and take their seats, but never really seem to settle down. Her students would also begin sharpening pencils non-stop even though they knew she didn’t allow it.

Step 1. What we did first was to address the process of entering her classroom. There wasn’t any consistent structure for the intro of her lesson. So, we designed a routine were the students entered the room, took their assigned seats, glanced at the board specifically sectioned to post assignment/homework instructions, and the students understood they were to begin immediately while she took attendance, walking the floor plan, and engaging her students.

Step 2. We invested in pencils. She purchased a couple of small cases of pencils for under $5 to get started.

Step 3.
Ms. Ann hooked up with the custodians and asked if she could have any pencils picked up during their daily cleaning rounds.

Step 4. She made it know that if there was any students needing to work off detention or community services that she had plenty of pencils needing to be sharpened before and after school. Now the stage was set for eliminating the pencil sharpening issue.

Step 5. Her students were expected to be responsible for bringing necessary supplies, but throughout the lesson students were allowed to swap a limit of two broken pencils in exchange for sharpened pencils. She didn’t create more stress by making the process all strict or complicated for everyone. She supplied the pencil cup and the kids swapped pencils.

The transition was so productive that she was no longer up tight about a student or two not coming to class with something to write with. As a result her students were ever more willing to share their supplies because of their own changed perceptions of being in control.

What processes have you put into place for creating a better quality of community in your classroom?

P.S. If you have been inspired from this article please consider leaving a comment and subscribing to the RSS feed (top right column) to have future post delivered to your feed reader. Please send your friends to http://laroncarter.com to connect with me or @laroncarter on Twitter.

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