Pencil Equilibrium


I don't want to jinx it, but I have made some real strides with the Andover pencil culture. It remains an active struggle to get them to have pencils on their stands, and most need to be told to use them, but I believe we have all but killed the outright refusal that had such a stronghold on this town.

The interesting side project in all of this is to what extent I have been willing to provide said pencils. I have always taken the line that it is their responsibility to have their own pencils, and I did not want to get them used to just living off the land and finding one when they get to band.

I have to admit that this is hardly fair. I am quite certain that I can recall many times when I dug around under the risers or inside the piano at school so that I'd have one at the ready. Maybe I don't want them going down the same primrose path on which I tread.

Recently, I broke down and put a mug of pencils on the little shelf next to my podium. I'm telling you, it works. It's fascinating. The rule is: borrow one if you need it, but return it. If they forget to do it before band, they have to come up in front of me and take one. Most kids would rather have their own than do that.

After band, I go around and collect pencils left on te stand, and they go in the mug. Some may have been borrowed and not returned, and some may have just been left and are now community.

There are always a handful of kids who forgot one, and there are always a few left on stands, and at the end of the day, there is always about the same number of pencils in the jar.

Wood Hill Middle School has achieved pencil equilibrium.