Do you have trouble keeping Art materials in the in the Art classroom?
Maintaining Art room resources is one of the biggest concerns for any Art teacher. Often, we are seen as a supply closet of sorts and colleagues forget that in lieu of textbooks, we have materials. When the materials run out, our class is very difficult to teach. Finding the right balance of being warm and sympathetic enough to share, but still keeping boundaries can be tricky.
But, this post is not about that. It is about flagrant student theft. I've taught for seven years and I've never seen such a student thieving problem.. Most of my students are on free and reduced lunch, and most come to school with literally the clothes on their back and nothing else. They (or their parents) know that teachers will give them paper and pencils to do their work in lieu of having them fail for lack of those materials. I haven't figured out if this is a game of sorts, or if it is a real need. I suspect it is a bit of both. Either way, let's keep in mind that nearly all of my students wear $100 plus Nike Air Jordan sneakers. So, they can afford expensive shoes, but not pencils, paper, breakfast, or lunch.
My point in saying this is that my students have a bit of an attitude about what they are owed. I'm at the point wherein I think that so much has been provided to them that they and/or their families feel that everything should be provided to them. My students seem to have no sense of boundaries when it comes to ownership. They take what they want, when they want, on the basis that they need it and it should be given to them. For instance, earlier this year, my iphone went missing. It is a very bizarre and troubling attitude to manage.
I received 120 permanent markers in my supply order earlier this year. As of the end of last quarter, every single marker has been stolen. I went and purchased 40 permanent markers at my local Target on Wednesday night for my classroom. On Thursday, I explained the theft and the new marker purchase to my students. I told them I would count out and count back in the markers. By 2nd period I was already missing one marker. When I held the class from dismissal, we waited ten minutes with the marker still not showing up. In exasperation, I let the kids go. I repeated this process two more times, and by the end of the day, I was down six markers.
I was also seeing red.
Today, I came up with an even tighter system. I explained it to students and was met with a lot of disrespectful comments about how permanent markers only cost a dollar. I explained that those dollars add up and they mostly add up to us not having markers in Art when we need them. . . And, that adds up to us not doing cool projects because we lack the materials. As they say in the South: "I'm done playin' with y'all."
At the end of the day, ALL of my markers were back in my classroom.
Here is my new, tighter, system:
I built a marker caddy labeled with a number. I then put a masking tap flag on each marker and numbered that. Then, I created a logout/login sheet with the names from my student rosters. Students have to come to me to get a marker. I dispense the marker and the students must write that marker number next to their name on the class roster. When students return the marker, they must initial next to the marker number on the class roster. If any markers fail to return, the student responsible for that marker receives a zero for his/her daily grade. It is timely, but it creates a lot of accountability. I also noticed that students were more likely to turn their marker in as soon as they were finished with it. I believe this is because they were afraid of losing the marker and/or having a friend pick it up when they weren't watching.
I'm so proud of the marker caddy I built. The kids actually really like it. One student said: "Did you build that Ms. J.? That is swagg!!" In fact, I liked it so much I built a few more caddies for scissors, glue bottles, and lino cutters. I was playing with the idea of making one for Xacto Blades, but I prefer to keep those safely locked away in a metal sharp box. The caddies are super cheap, super easy, and super fast to make.
Step 1: Procure some floral foam. A lot of small floral foam bricks were donated to my classroom years ago.
Step 2: Use some cylindrical object to push spaced holes in the foam. I used a crayola marker.
Step 3: Join several pieces of smaller foam together to make one larger brick.
Step 3: Cover the foam brick with masking tape. You don't have to cover the foam, but I suspect the students would smoosh their fingers into etc. You could also wrap the foam brick with paper, but the masking tape sticks and helps it keep shape better in my opinion.
Step 4: Use an Xacto Blade and cut small x's into the holes you just covered with tape.
Step 5: Number your holes with permanent marker.
Step 6: Put numbered masking tape flags onto your markers if you wish.
Step 7: Push your markers into your holes.
Step 8: Voila! You now have a marker caddy.
Here are a few of the other caddies I built:
A glue one to aid students in storing the glue bottles upright.
A lino cutter one to keep track of all those blades!
A scissor one to do a quick eye check that all sharps have been returned.