This week, I had a simple interaction that made me reflect on how things happen in the classroom. After living in my house for 10 years, I’ve decided to refinance before the Fed raises interest rates. Fall break this week provided a great time to meet with the bank and get the process moving. As I began the process, I found that the bank needed certain documents (actually a lot of document). One of those was a statement from my homeowners insurance—a statement that the insurance company mails me every year when the insurance premiums are due. I will admit that I’m not the most organized person—other things are just more important in my life than finding a place for every little thing. What that means is that I couldn’t exactly locate the document that the insurance company had sent me. Up to this point, I hadn’t made a connection between my actions and those of my students, but I’m sure you can see the link. Many students (especially at the middle school) lack the ability or the will to stay organized. Frequently, they lose necessary items (notebooks, pencils, assignments, etc.).
As a resourceful person, I made a decision. Rather than spending hours searching for the necessary document, I’d visit my insurance agent and request another copy from them. (Know any students who do the same thing?) When I arrived at the desk at the insurance office, the receptionist kindly (and promptly) printed out another copy of the document that I had lost (as if it were her part of her job). Unfortunately, this may be where the comparison to students ends. Many students find that upon asking for another copy of a paper that they have somehow lost, they are subjected to a lecture that makes them feel less than human.
Years ago, I gave up fighting the pencil battle. Each week when I pick up my groceries, I also pick up a pack or two of pencils for the students who will come to my class without them during the week. I make extra copies of papers that students may lose because, actually, that is part of my job. I may joke with students who lose things, but I try to avoid lectures. Either the students know they’re unorganized and don’t need a lecture, or they don’t care and a lecture won’t help.
Let’s work to make school a kinder, gentler place. A place where students can receive second chances. A place where lost papers are replaced without a question. This week, when a student asks for another copy of that paper, extend grace and make his/her day a little brighter.