Classroom Quick Fix: Equipment

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John Dabell

I trained as a primary school teacher 25 years ago, starting my career in London and then I taught in a range of schools in the Midlands. In between teaching jobs, I worked as an Ofsted inspector (no hate mail please!), national in-service provider, project...
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How do you deal with students who don’t bring equipment to class?

Always have a healthy stock of equipment and by all means lend it out but not for free…ask for something back.

Rob Plevin in his book Take Control of the Noisy Class: From CHAOS to Calm in 15 seconds suggests the following,

“Offer to lend the student some of your equipment in return for one of their shoes as collateral.”

How do you feel about doing that? Would you offer to lend someone a pencil in exchange for their left shoe? Imagine the conversation:

Student: Can I borrow a pencil?

You: No problem, give me one of your shoes.

Student: What?

You: When I get the pencil back, you get your shoe back. Deal?

Is this a case of tough love or humiliation? As Rob says, “There are going to be some strategies in this book which you don’t feel comfortable about using, and this is probably one of them…”

Lend Me Your Ear

You will always get a handful of students who never have what they are supposed to have with them for a class. But how many times have you lent equipment only for it to permanently disappear?

Forgetting the basics might seem like a trivial classroom management issue but not having the equipment needed for the job in hand delays and frustrates learning, wastes time and guarantees a rocky start to the lesson that might be hard to recover. It’s the little things that can sometimes lead to chaos.

There’s no point in asking, “Who can lend Tait a pen?” because no one wants to and the awkward silence will only lead to more trouble so you lend Tait a pen to save all the fuss. However, by the end of the lesson you’ve either forgotten about the pen or the pen has mysteriously gone on holiday. You quickly run out of pens.

So, why not take a shoe in exchange for a pencil? You might find you won’t get as many requests for your supplies although you might end up with the odd shoe here and there.

4 thoughts on “Classroom Quick Fix: Equipment

  1. The school where I completed my second placement asked for mobile phones which I thought was a good incentive to return equipment. Once I had a student produce 3 iphones for a ruler, pencil and pen!

  2. I have certainly used this method of leaving a shoe , works fantastically well when lending out PE, esp if it’s school sports team kit!! Always get it returned.

  3. I have embarrassing pens – they have large flowers on the end – then I always get them back. I don’t mind lending stuff – I want them to be working and not incurring detentions.

  4. I buy a box of 50 cheap pens from amazon once per term. I work in a very deprived school. I would rather have a student tell me they need a pen than sit there not learning. It’s against the school policy but it is good for students and a small price to pay for an easier life for me.

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