Original Article: https://www.responsiveclassroom.org/article/classroom-connections

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In my first couple of years teaching fourth grade, I was surprised by how much my students argued about who owned which supplies. “Nicole, can I borrow your black marker?” Carradine would ask. “No. My mom bought these for me.” Carradine would push, “But you’re letting Rachel use your markers.” Nicole would shrug, and Rachel would reach over and take the black marker.

Of course, we had an ample supply of markers (and other materials) in the room, but the ones from home often seemed especially desirable. And the “private” materials presented other challenges: Some students would have better supplies than others; some would loan materials to their best friends only. Someone would accidentally break a friend’s ruler, and an argument would ensue about who should replace it.

Finally, a colleague suggested having community supplies only. Students would bring in supplies from home only if they were willing to donate them to the class for everyone to share. Instead of getting a list of required supplies to purchase for their child, families would receive a list of supplies they could purchase for the class if they wanted to. All supplies would be kept in community bins for everyone to use, and everyone would have access to the same supplies for their work. If students had special supplies they didn’t want everyone to use, those would stay at home for project work done there.

Mike Anderson
Mike Anderson is a full-time education consultant, award-winning teacher, and author of many books including The Well-Balanced Teacher and The First Six Weeks of School. His latest book, Learning to Choose, Choosing to Learn: The Key to Student Motivation and Achievement was the ASCD member book for April, 2016. To learn more about Mike and his work, or to invite him to work with your school or district, check out his website: www.leadinggreatlearning.com. You can connect with Mike on Twitter: @balancedteacher.