Thursday, September 16, 2010

Be Prepared

Today was the day when we set up English binders in my class. Last week, each student was asked to procure a 1-1/2" binder and five dividers to store and organize all the reading and writing work they will do in class this year. Last night, I went to the office supply store and purchased 10 binders and 20 sets of dividers. My deal is simple-- I'll lend those students without what they need today in exchange for a replacement as soon as possible. I ran out of supplies in the fourth of my five classes, despite scrounging through all the spare binders I've collected over the years as well as the generosity of the students who bought 8 divider sets and donated the extra 3 to their classmates.

This practice is considered wrong by some. To them, it is harmful to the students because it is enabling: as the theory goes, if students have enough advance notice for any given task, then accepting anything less than full compliance is reinforcing the idea that requirements aren't mandatory. Hm.

To those folks I say: Look. My students are ten and eleven. They are in a new school in a new position of greatly increased responsibility and independence. I think they're doing the best they can. Many of their parents work long hours and some have limited access to transportation. Add to that that today, new figures were released showing that one out of seven people in the US lives in poverty. I suspect that statistic applies to the families of some who come to my class every day.

Not one student turned down my offer; they want to have what they need for the class. I know I'll get back a few binders and some sets of dividers, too, but I won't break even, and I don't really care. We have our English binders ready to go!

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