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More Colored Pencils Please

At the end of every semester I ask my students to complete an evaluation sheet about the class; their challenges, favorite, least favorite projects, three things that they learned about themselves, etc. When they choose to complete it honestly, it provides a fascinating insight into how they perceived the year in my class and what they took away from it. It gives me information regarding projects (skip the shoe project next year!) and class atmosphere (memorable moments were the conversations among table mates) and teaching style (“you expect a lot from us, but you make us do our best!”). This year, for the first time, the majority of students used the evaluation to voice their disappointment over the lack of resources and materials that we endured this year. “More colored pencils. In better colors. And not little stubs, please.”

This year each art class had three additional students on the roster. Multiplied by five classes, that is almost half a full class per teacher. 
Yet we got no additional funding, no additional  resources to cover the expenses of fifteen more students to serve. Coupled with the new California law that forbids schools to charge a materials fee for public school courses, our budgets were severely limited. My class was given a generous donation at the beginning of the school year which included over three hundred colored pencils and about five hundred number two drawing pencils. I was out of most colored pencils by April, down to my last twenty four number 2 pencils last week.  
     
At the beginning of each school year, and again at the start of each new lesson, I stress the importance of caring for the materials and supplies in the classroom. But when the art classes are treated like revolving door classrooms with students leaving the class and enrolling in the class on a continual basis ( I got a new student just three weeks ago), it is difficult to maintain the integrity of supplies and materials without daily lessons care. I find pencils broken in half, brushes with dried paint in them and I only wish I could find what happens to the erasers that I put out for use. They just disappear! I want the students to be able to have quality materials so that they can produce quality work. But given the logistics, it is becoming harder to do. I like having a classroom where I can allow students access to the materials that they need for a specific project without having to “check in and out” with me. But will that become the only option as resources dwindle? How do you institute respect for materials with students who are not fully vested in the class? What are some things you do in your classrooms to stretch your resource and maintain the quality of class supplies.

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