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Never, never, never prepared


c green

I have some kids who are never, never, never prepared for class. They will come in DAY after DAY without a pencil, the book, whatever. Then they want passes, an extra book, pencils, etc.

If I say 'OK, you can't do today's work then,', some will simply sit there and do nothing quite contentedly. They will even try to insist they should have gotten a passing grade on the material later, by pointing out that they didn't have a book that day. Others will raise their hand and ask for a whatever it is, repeatedly, and seem confused that I'm refusing each time.

I have one boy who actually does want to do well--most days--but is never prepared. On Thursday, we had an open-book quiz. He jogs in before lunch to drop off his backpack in my room.

He jogs in after lunch, and immediately goes to drink water at the sink.

Then he sits down, and apparently does NOT note the large DO NOW, in the same spot the DO NOW always is, saying 'have your textbooks out, get out a pencil, and clear your desks for the quiz'.

After a certain amount of time has passed, I say, "OK, let's go over directions," and go over directions. I distribute the quiz. Sometime after that--I mean about five minutes--the kid raises his hand.

"Can I go get my backpack?" pointing across the room.

"No, I don't think so."

"What? I gotta get my book."

"We had time to do that."

"But I had to drink water. I gotta get it."

"No, you may not get out of your seat while the quiz is going on."

"But I need it."

"You needed to get it when you came in."

"But I had to drink water."

Some time later--about five minutes--"I need a pencil."

"I'm sorry."

"You got a pencil?"

"No, remember, Ms. Green doesn't give out pencils since three dozen of them were stolen off her desk."

"But I need a pencil."

"You've come in without one every day this week."



He's looking at me as though I'm insane. Finally, I let him borrow a pencil from a more prepared classmate.

This boy is thirteen years old. And he's actually a lot better than the girl who, when asked a question, smirks at me and says "I don't have my book, REMEMBER?"


Don't know what to do

I agree. My problem is that this happens so often, I'm second-guessing my response. Do I:

add a checkmark on the behavior chart?

lecture about preparedness? (I know better, but I slip up sometimes)

shrug and walk away? (usually leads to whining that disrupts other's tests)

go with the natural consequence? (no supplies->no work->no grade)

keep him in at recess? (this would feel like good revenge ;) )

Seems you're having as wonderful as year as I. We haven't had a good day as a class in two weeks (and that wasn't really good, I just left work not ready to quit). I'm going to start giving the 5th graders some subtle hints throughout the rest of the year and hope it helps come 06-07!


Senior Member
I teach first

and expect to have these sort of problems but for those who had a pencil and then 10 minutes later can't find theirs I keep a supply of pink and brown crayons. The little boys that lose their pencils absolutely hate when I tell then no I won't give you another pencil but here is a pink crayon to write with instead.:D ( the girls hate the brown... I don't know why) By this time in the year most of them can keep up with their pencil now. There is no excuse for your older kiddos. I would be tempted to not give them the missing object, ignore any whinning ( or send them out) and grade their paper accordingly. I bet a few papers going home that say in red pen at the top " 0% - did not have materials ready for class"
would change the behavior by the end of the year!

Joanne D

I have the same problem!

I teach 7th grade and every class has a minimum of 4-5 kids who do not have their pencils or books. I am so sick of the no pencil routine. I put 20 pencils in my cup holder one day to see how long them would last. In three days, they were all gone! Most students don't even ask. I have some pencils with my name imprinted on them. They take them then scratch my name off. (Yea, like I won't figure that out!)

Our team decided that anyone who comes to class without their book three times gets an after school detention. I have simply stopped giving out pencils. I keep them all inside my desk and tell them that if they need one, they had better get one from a friend.

We have a comment on our report card that reads, "Does not bring required materials to class." I have started using that one a lot!

I understand and share in your frustration!



Senior Member
I think you need to assign detention or submit an office referral for tardiness, insubordination, not prepared for class, etc., etc., etc.

Sometimes I give a piece of candy or a water break to all the kids who have their supplies on days like the one you just described.


Senior Member
points for preparation

I have attacked this problem in several ways. If a student has everything and does not ask to go to their lockers at anytime, they can earn points. (I have a little percentage called "citizenship" on language arts section).

I've also done this dorky "star chart". If students have all requirements they earn a star. Also, you have to be in school to earn the star too. The first 5 students to fill up the chart are "superstars". Get to leave first for everything. Pathetically, they love this. Everyone has to wait until I allow superstars to leave before I let them go. It is also interesting because you really start to notice who are prepared and the others really stand out. Some are constantly looking at the star chart and counting their stars. I usually do the star chart for a few months, until I get bored with it and the kids seem trained.

As far as pencils, I find at least 10 on the floor everyday. Most are worn down without erasers. If someone wants a pencil, I give them one of those pathetic ones. They reallly don't like them much. I also like the crayon or colored pencil idea. They hate that too. Some kids just honestly have worn them down and really just need a new one. Sometimes, if a kid has rarely asked, I provide a newer pencil.



Is it the weather? I just had the same problem today.

I have a boy who would forget his head if it wasn't screwed on. I guess he thinks it's great if he just shows up.

He didn't have a pencil, pen, planner, homework, scissors, or paper. How did he expect to do anything? Geeezzzz...

It's always the same kids, too.

We gave a bunch of kids lunch detention today for not having homework or being prepared for class. I hope we see some results tomorrow.

I give stamps for homework and when they fill up their sheets, they use the sheet as a snack in class pass or a homework pass. (There's 25 squares per sheet.) It's a good motivator for homework because I let them bring in anything they want for a snack (pizza, soda, pie, McDonald's...). They can't eat anything in my room without a pass, so it's a treat.

I might start doing surprise checks for supplies and give stamps for that, too. It might work.

I like the old pencil idea and the pink/brown crayons.

Just a thought, instead of letting the slackers sit without anything to do, you could make them copy something (very long) about responsibility.


Senior Member
Tried a new tactic this year

This one problem probably frustrated me more than any other ever has in the history of my career. Last year I attended a workshop on 6 traits writing. A teacher from Arizona was presenting. Somewhere along the line we got talking about this not being prepared for class thing and she told us she gave up on that. In her classroom she keeps the file crates with a file for each student and their materials go in that. We talked about the need to teach middle schoolers to be prepared and organized and she agreed but said she decided to pick her battles and instead she picked the battle to teach writing. So my partner and I thought about it and decided to try it. There are still some bugs in our plan, but so far, we LOVE it!!!. I numbered my desks and covered the numbers with clearn contac paper. I covered a set of text books and numbered them and when we need them in class, I put them out on the desks. That is very seldom as I don't use the text much at all. However, we do use novels fairly often. I do the same with them. When the kids leave, I quickly scan the room to see if there is a novel on every desk. If one is missing, I can see which desk, check my seating chart and grab the child who accidentally walked off with my novel. If they need copies for reading assignments outside of class, they are assigned those copies and they can leave them at home - hence no excuses like I couldn't do my homework because I forgot my book in my locker :). In their file, I glued one of those heavy manilla envelopes that is like 4 X 8 with a flap. The kids are required to keep a pencil and a red pen in there all the time. It never leaves the room. They also keep a composition book in their folders. Those things were required early in the year and that was for a grade during the first week of school. At this point in the year, the pencil thing is again becoming an issue, but other things, such as our daily door buster sheet is NEVER an issue anymore because it is in their folder and never leaves the room. The come in, get the folder by the door, sit down and go to work. Before, it would be, what are you supposed to be doing??? I can't, I lost my sheet. Well, copy it onto your own paper. I can't, I don't have any paper....etc. You know the drill. By then my blood pressure would be through the roof. NONE of that this year at all. YEA!!!

teach 1st

Full Member

I do not know what grade you teach. I know one of our 4th grade teachers was having this problem. She has classroom cash as her behavior plan. Well they can use their classroom cash to buy their supplies. And they are NOT CHEEP!! I think a pencil is like 3.00. They can not borrow from someone else. THey have to buy it from her. She says it works because they want to spend their money on better things. I also know one of our 3rd grade teachers use to tell her class you need to leave me something when you borrow something from me. Therefore, they had to leave a shoe when they borrowed a pencil. You return the pencil, I return the shoe.

mom to Adhd


Is it disorganization or ADHD? Executive function is organization and that is one of the primary areas of disability with ADHD. Think about it.



I hate to intrude, but I just HAD to post..this looks EXACTLY like ADHD to me & believe me, I know the signs.

Symptoms of ADHD

The behaviors that indicate attention deficit hyperactivity disorder can vary from person to person. The most common characteristics are inattention, hyperactivity, and impulsive behavior.

Inattention is characterized by difficulty focusing on a specific task, particularly if it is not a task the child is interested in. The parent may notice their child has difficulty learning new things because they can't pay close enough attention to the task at hand. They may notice that the child has no problem paying attention to a video game they love, but when it comes to finishing a school project, it's like pulling teeth.

Some of the ways a parent or teacher might describe this behavior: the child's mind drifts; the teen seems to be all over the place, never focusing for more than a few moments; the student doesn't finish anything, and when he or she does, there are many mistakes; the child is easily bored.

Hyperactivity is characterized by seemingly endless activity. The child cannot sit still and seems compelled to talk, often a mile a minute. The child is restless and may seem anxious.

Some of the ways a parent or teacher might describe this behavior: the child is constantly moving; the teen can't sit still for five minutes; the student taps his feet, squirms in his seat, and talks in class even after being asked to keep quiet; the teenager is like a ball of endless energy, moving, talking, and bouncing from one activity to the next.

Impulsivity is characterized by thoughtless or inappropriate actions or reactions. They act without thinking about the consequences, and the sudden action can seem to come out of nowhere. This behavior can be risky, as when a child suddenly runs into a street without looking.

Some of the ways a parent or teacher might describe this behavior: the child just blurts out anything at any time; the teen just pulls out of the driveway without looking both ways; the student grabs something without asking first; the student never waits his turn.

These behaviors in and of themselves do not necessarily indicate ADHD. With attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, the student will show one or more than one of these behaviors persistently over time and they will be very obvious to parents and teachers. The behaviors will interfere with social relationships and academic performance.

Since one out of twenty children have Attention
Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder in the US, it is
important for teachers to understand both the myths
and realities of the disorder. Here are some thoughts
that teachers should consider:

1. Don't buy into the line, "He'd behave if he
wanted to." That may or may not be true. He
may behave just fine from time to time, and if you
encourage him, he may do well for long periods of
time. But his problem is not that he does not want to
behave, rather his problem has a medical basis which
makes it hard for him to sustain self-control.

2. Understand that of all of the kids with ADD,
about 60% or so are hyperactive, and that 40% or
so are not hyper at all. Also know that about
60% are male, and about 40% are female. Not all kids
with ADD will cause problems. The rest will just sit
and stare. Only one out of three with the Attention
Deficit Disorder will ever get help from a professional.

3. Don't dismiss the behaviors as either poor
parenting or poor classroom management.

4. Before talking to the parents, get a second
opinion from another teacher, the school
psychologist, etc. When you do meet with the
parents, make a list of the behaviors that you are
concerned about. Don't try to diagnose the child
yourself, as this will simply make the parents
defensive. Instead, just report the observed
behaviors adn ask the parents to get it checked out.

5. Invite the parents to come in to your class
and observe. More than one visit may be
required, as often having the parent present the first
time creates a "unique" situation which stimulates
the child to do better than normal.

6. Be aware that the ADHD child often does very
well in unique or novel situations, or in one-to-one
situations. This would include a visit to a
physician or a therapist to diagnose a problem. Also
be aware that the worst place for an ADHD child is in
the classroom setting. There are dozens of
distractions, pressures, and rules that can be difficult
for the child. And teachers, please be sure to visit us
at ADDinSchool.co


Senior Member
I'm a mom and a teacher...

and while we have to be alert to signs of a possible disability, we are talking about middle schoolers here. Frankly, it's more developmental than anything. A good friend once told me that the "switch" turns off at 12 and doesn't get turned on again until 17 or 18 or so. Mmmmmm, sounds like puberty to me. I have one typical son who is 12, and one son who is 15 and has multiple learning issues including adhd. But I digress.

As teachers, part of what we do is teach responsibility. Whether it's teaching first graders to wash their hands or cover their sneezes, or teaching 6th graders that YES they must turn in the homework and YES they must be prepared for class, that is what we do. It is unfair (and illegal through IDEA) to provide accommodations to students that do not need or qualify for these accommodations. If a child has been fine, and then STARTS to be irresponsible with organization or materials, this is developmental, not usually adhd, which would have documented problems all the way through elementary school. Additionally, adhd is a medically diagnosed and medically treated disability. If the parents have been made aware of organizational issues to discuss with the pediatrician, that's all we can and should do.

I think it's important that all parents, doctors, and teachers are aware of disabilities, and I also think that parents, doctors, and teachers should not do a disservice to students who do not have a disability by making excuses for those students who have the ability and choose to not to take responsibility. Remember, I am also the mom of a typical student, and a mom to one student with learning disabilities. I expect my typical son to be able to do things my non-typical son can not do yet. :o

mom to Adhd

I'm a mom too

I have an older child who is an honors student. I also have an ADHD son in middle school. I do expect more from him than I used to, but some things take longer than others to learn. Organization is a matter of habit for them. They don't notice things others notice, such as the DO NOW paper. It would be a simple matter for a teacher to remind the class that they need to make sure their materials are in order. It would help the boy develop the habit of making sure he has things ready. As it is, he has established the habit of not being prepared.

There is no cut off line with ADHD. Some people learn to adapt younger than others. Some people need accomodations into adulthood.

Sometimes we are so caught up in trying to prepare our kids for the future that we forget that they are not always in control just because the rest of the class is. We care so much and want things to be so right for them that we try to push them into growth they are not capable of, or can't seem to learn in the manner we are used to teaching.

Mrs. G

Senior Member
Question for Mom adhd and Misty?

Are you both teachers or just parents of children with Adhd? Just wondering?


Answer for Mrs G

We are both. We see both sides of the issue and have to say something when we see a child who is apparently not being treated according to his LD. We found the site by accident & couldnt help posting.