I don't like to loan pencils.
It really has nothing to do with germophobia. I would never lend one of my three main writing utensils to a student. But I have others I could lend. It would not break my bank to hand out a pencil every hour, and not get it back. No. It would not hurt me. It would hurt the borrower. I am a big believer in responsibility.
My policy is that if I find a pencil or pen, I put it on my desk as a loaner. If somebody asks, I will let him use it for that class period. But once it's gone, it's gone. No loaning until I find another. And if somebody claims it, that's one less pencil available for loaning. This keeps the borrowing to a minimum.
Don't go thinking Mrs. Thevictorian is a selfish pencil-hoarder. I have given kids the pencil out of my hand on certain occasions. Like when the asker is not a habitual borrower, and mentions how his pencil broke, or ran out of lead, and he is now faced with a pencil-less day that will be stressful to one so conscientious in completing and turning in assignments.
In the past, there was a year of pencil giveaway season in my classroom. I used to hand out writing sticks willy-nilly, hoping to help those who could not afford pencils, or those who didn't have a way to town to buy pencils, or those who had their pencils stolen, or who left them in their pants pocket during the wash, or ran out of lead, or...the excuses were endless. I grew tired of finding my special pencils broken in half, on the floor, lost by the next day, left on the student desk, out in the hall, and hearing how they were stupid wooden pencils--didn't I have any mechanical pencils? Like the one in my hand?
It seems like the same kid always needs a pencil. Every day. I can't imagine asking for one seven hours a day. Day after day. Funny how these kids have a dollar for a giant sugar-free beverage from the machines at lunch. But can't spare a quarter for a pencil from the teacher who sells them in the cafeteria every morning during the free-for-all breakfastfest.
Give a student a pencil, and he writes for an hour. Make him be responsible for his own pencil, and he writes for life. This elder needs help from the village in raising responsible students.
My last two loaners disappeared when I had a substitute last week. Our subs are notorious for loaning pencils. I laid the two loaners on the desk, along with two pens for the sub to use. Better than having them rifle through the desk in search of implements to toss out like candy from a Labor Day Parade float. The pens remained. The pencils were gone.
Now I have no loaners. But in one class, with my older kids, I loaned two of my personal pencils yesterday:
Not the yellow Office Max. He is there to lend perspective. Two pencil-beggars of advanced years and experience were given the choice of using the behemoth or the sprite. As Kim Darby told Glen Campbell in the original True Grit, regarding his character stealing a kiss or spanking her, "I assure you, one would be as unpleasant as the other." They did not like scribbling with these outliers. A message was sent. And received. The freshmen would try to borrow these on purpose, just to gain the spotlight. One has to know the psychological profile of one's clientele.
Mrs. Val Thevictorian. Saving the world, one pencil-borrower at a time.
Please disregard my shoeless chair, dipping its bare tootsies into the photo like an exhibitionist.