pencil. pen·cil. pensəl.

I hate pen.  I love colorful inks, and grading with pretty gel pens.  But those are for me.  When kids do math homework in pen, my eye twitches and my neck cramps and I suffer from small micro-seizures.  Such is life.

So I made a definitive decision this year.  Pencil only in math class.  No exceptions.  First day of school, open house, welcome back letter… everything said pencil only.  Even still, I had this actual conversation on the first day of school with a class.

Them: “Is pen okay?”

Me: “Is it a pencil?”

Them: “No.”

Me: “Well then.  No.”

Them: “What about erasable pen?”

Me: “Is it a pencil?”

Them: “No.  It’s an erasable pen.”

Me: “Well then. No.”


I hate pen.


Part of me wants to laugh maniacally when a student does a worksheet in pen and it’s all wrong.  But I don’t.  I just give them a new worksheet.

What I’m puzzled over is WHY DO THEY STILL ASK ME IF A PEN IS OKAY?  Every conversation has the same response.  “Is it a pencil?  Then no.”

I know I’m prejudiced.  I acknowledge and accept that.  Hi, my name is Stephanie, and I am prejudiced against erasable pen.  Seriously.  Erasable pen just irritates me.  I don’t have a reason.  It just ticks me off.  More so than regular pen.  They write like garbage.  The ink smudges.  It’s suffering from a major identity crisis.  Darn it, pen, love yourself for who you are!  Stop trying to be like pencil.  If you can’t love yourself, pen, nobody else ever will!

Well… time to go grade 100 tests done in pen.




First Day Activities – Nightmare Classroom

I’m 21 years old.  I have just graduated college with my degree in Elementary Education.  It is the evening before school starts.  My very first classroom.  Squee!  Was I making cute bulletin boards?  Or writing names on adorable nametags?  No.  I am sitting on the floor of my classroom with a set of Allen wrenches, putting my student desks together.  I don’t have a chalkboard.  I don’t have desks.  I think I have textbooks in boxes somewhere, but I haven’t seen them yet.  School starts in less than 24 hours.

Still worried about your first day?

Relax.  It won’t be as bad you think.  Middle school and high school classes will be over before you’ve had a chance to go over homework and test procedures.  Elementary, well they are much easier to entertain.  Get yourself an awesome picture book, a getting to know you activity, a game or two, and you’re golden.

If I only get one thing done on my first day of classes, it’s the perfect classroom vs. the nightmare classroom activity.  I use this to develop the classroom procedures and to start behavior expectations with my students.  I have found that my students are often more strict than I am.  It also just makes sense to involve my students in the development of the behavior expectations to which they will be held.  Also, it’s kinda hilarious to see a kid’s idea of a nightmare classroom.

This is a super simple activity.  Tell the students not to write their name on their paper.  Tell them to describe their idea of a nightmare classroom and a ideal classroom.  What does it look like?  Sound like?  Smell like?  What kinds of behaviors will you see?  Tell them to be honest and realistic.  There will not be donuts handed out at the end of class instead of homework, (yes, I really got that as a response once).  No, they can’t have recess or lunch all day.

Give the class ample time to work on both classroom scenarios, and then collect them.  Explain that you will go over them and see what the kids all have in common, and from there you will develop classroom procedures and behavior expectations.  I think you’ll be surprised at the responses you get.

Education World had a great article about developing classroom rules.  Give it a peek here.

Have you tried this approach?  Had success with something else?  Leave a comment!