Missing School Supplies
Not every student will come prepared to class with pencils, paper, and books every day. This will always be an issue in the classroom because students tend to forget “little” things like writing instruments and test dates. The question that you face as a teacher is the method in which you deal with the situation.
Two major schools of thought seem to exist on this issue. One is that students need to learn to be responsible. Therefore, if they do not come prepared, they should not be able to participate in the lesson or should receive some other form of punishment. The second school of thought is that a forgotten pencil should not keep a kid from learning. Your opinion on this topic will determine what course of action you are likely to take in your classroom. If you go against your natural instincts, you are more likely to fail at consistently enforcing the rule.
The Responsibility Argument
Students need to learn responsibility, and part of going to school involves deadlines, requirements, and mandatory participation. This experience helps students prepare for life after school. Teachers who follow the responsibility argument reinforce personal responsibility by having strict rules concerning forgotten items.
These teachers will often not allow students to participate in the class until they have found or borrowed their forgotten material. Typically, the older a student is, the more stringently this rule is applied. Elementary school teachers might be wise to have students bring in extra pencils and paper at the beginning of the year to use if something has been forgotten.
The Participation Argument
Teachers with this philosophy believe that students should be responsible for their materials, but a forgotten pencil or paper should not prevent a student from participating. These teachers will keep a stock of pencils, papers, spare books, and other supplies to lend to students.
Stocking materials can get quite expensive because students will forget to return borrowed items. An effective measure to ensure kids do not walk out of the room with the item you lent them is to have the student leave something in exchange like a backpack, a shoe, or a lunch.
Some teachers have tried to make students pay for materials. However, you should use caution and check with your administration before doing this because taking money from kids can lead to huge problems for you. However, you might be able to collect enough extra items by asking for donations of materials from parents at the beginning of the school year.
Chronic Problems and Other Issues
When students are chronically without their required materials, you need to make sure that this is not a symptom of a larger problem. Try to determine if they have issues at home that are keeping them from bringing their items to class, or if it is just a matter of laziness or defiance. If you do find that there is a problem at home, then you should contact the guidance counselor.
Students leaving their books at home can often cause a real problem; not many teachers have extra books to lend. Therefore, you might need to come up with methods to encourage kids to bring their books to class. A great way to encourage compliance is to have random material checks. Every student who has the materials necessary for the course during a check gets extra credit or a piece of candy or another appropriate reward.