Top 5 Mistakes of Supplies I Made in the Classroom

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Each year I walked into teaching with a plan. 
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Organize. Check.

Meet the kids. Check

Teach my heart out. Check.

Have the best year ever ... Reality Check.

I mean, we all have the best-laid plans when it comes to our time teaching. Then that pesky thing called reality shows ups and laughs at said plans. 

No. That's not true. Reality doesn't laugh. It pulls a Miley Cyrus and comes in like a wrecking ball.
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My new understanding in teaching is as follows ...

I came. I taught. Mistakes were made. We survived.

In honor of taking chances, making mistakes, and getting messy ...'
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Here are my top 5 mistakes made with supplies in my classroom...

TOP 5 CLASSROOM SUPPLY MISTAKES

1. Not setting explicit expectations with visual support
I was young. Stupid really. My first year teaching was supposed to be simple. Apply, interview, start job, be teacher of the year. Boom.

Bwahahahahaha ... oh, I was so naive.
 
Who knew that students didn't come to school already knowing exactly what you expected from their behavior with supplies?

I think I was starting day 2 of my first year teaching when I came to find all the ways supplies could be used within a portable without actually serving their original purpose. Pencil nubs were littering the floor, markers hade "magically" graffitied the desks, erasers were newly born porcupine with graphite sticking out, and scissors were literally hanging from the ceiling tiles. 

Yep.

I had not shown expectation. I had assumed. If you don't explain and MODEL, they will show you all the ways NOT to use supplies. Kids are creative. Trust me. Avoid this mistake.

2. Grab 'n Go Supplies with No Accountability
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In my third year of teaching, I decided to go to community supplies. While I do believe that with some classes this is a GREAT method for keeping up with supplies, I do recommend creating an accountability piece or the kids will take the EXPO markers hostage, without sending a ransom note. 

I used a "check out, check-in" system. Each kid would receive supplies at the beginning of the week. If they needed to replace a supply before the end of the week, they would have to come to me and show me the supply they needed (pencil nub, empty glue stick, broken scissors, etc.) 

If it seemed a little sketchy, I'd talk with them, replace the supplies for the student, and then drop a popsicle stick with the student's number into the supply box. This reminded me of who got supplies and how often. Super simple. 

3. Pencil Bags Instead of Pencil Boxes
Bags rip. Zippers break. Kids step on bags and bust all supplies inside.

Pencil boxes, while still breakable, were the better choice in my room. They were a little harder to destroy and didn't drop supplies as frequently. Also, they hold more and sharp things - scissors, sharpened pencils - can't really hurt the box.

4. Allowing Students to Keep ALLLLLL of Their Supplies for the Year
Now, don't get me wrong. There are some REALLY responsible kids out there. I just neer had them in my room. 

I remember vividly, receiving a phone call in mid-September from a ticked-off parent. I mean, she was LIVID. I had sent home some homework and students' supply boxes one night. She called to inform me that her child was down to 2 pencils and 5 crayons. No glue. No scissors. 

Completely confused by the whole conversation, I tried to reassure the parent that I would get out her personal supplies the next day so she could complete the assignment. 

Little girl comes in the next day and I asked her to go to her locker to get some more of the supplies her mother had sent in. Y'all. This mom had sent in over 200 pencils!!!! However, she came back to inform me that she had no more pencils. I asked where they were and she simply said, "I shared!"

Great heart! 

I was in trouble. 

Sharing isn't wrong. I encourage it. However, as a parent, I would have been ticked off too. 
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***End of the story: I resupplied all of her pencils, glue sticks, scissors, and the parent sent in supplies ... with her name plastered on each and every item.

5. Allowing Trades WITHOUT a Mediator
Did I catch every trade? Nope. 

But I'm referring to forced trades. This leans into classroom community. I did not teach the Biblical (and now accepted by culture) "Golden Rule." 

One child tried to guilt another student into trading their favorite pencil for an eraser top. 

Another student forced a trade by bullying.

Trading isn't wrong. These methods to make a trade are. 

I ended up having a "trading" day once a month. It was during lunch time, and only students who had earned lunch in the classroom got to participate. Every trade had to go through me. This kept it fair and unforced. 


Well, that's what I've got so far. What else should I add? Do you have any AMAZING mistakes with supplies that you'd like to share? I'd love to read about them in the comment!

Keep Smiling!

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