Since my first days as an educator, I’ve told students what teachers around the world tell their students: Bring your materials to class. By materials, I mean notebook, textbook, and something to write with. I honestly don’t care if students write in pen or pencil so long as they avoid hot pink or other bright colors.
Today I nearly lost it with a couple of classes because most of the students showed up without their materials. They simply came to class with nothing and acted as if it were normal. Such behavior has happened too many times before and today I decided enough was enough. I’ve been telling the students to bring their materials every single day of school since arriving here in 2011 and the message still hasn’t sunken in. I’m tired of making copies of textbook pages and carrying around extra paper.
As mad as I was, I kept my cool and began class. I mentioned the lack of books and notebooks on the desks and reminded them of the rule about bringing materials. After that, I did something I thought I’d never do and assigned lines as punishment. Despite disliking writing as a punishment, action needed to be taken. I will not stand for students who disregard the rules and waste my time because it is frustrating to spend hours preparing for a lesson only to have students bring nothing to class and effectively derail it. It is a waste of my time and the students’ time when this happens. And while there will always be a student or two who forgets a pen or a notebook, whole classes shouldn't be forgetting them. Whole classes of students who forget their materials are unacceptable.
I threw out a good chunk of the lesson today and lectured on this point. Neither teachers nor students can do their jobs without their materials. My classes are a normal part of the school day and are not something to trifle with. As a guest in this country, it’s my responsibility to ready these kids for the future and teach them well. None of that can happen without appropriate materials. It’s expected that I have lessons and it’s expected that they have paper and pens. Moreover, showing up without materials implies that class isn't taken seriously. I don’t expect everyone to like English class, but it’s not too much to ask to expect students to come prepared for it.