Out of pencils and pens again? Me too.
Our official position at BrokeTeacher.com is that you should not spend your paycheck on your job. That includes buying a million pencils. You should pay down your debt instead. Nothing’ll take you down faster than pens and pencils. One simple “Yes,” followed by a pen is like a drop of blood in an ocean of sharks, or taking a bite of an apple in a forest full of starving bears.
It can only end badly.
So, what’s a broke teacher to do?
We surveyed broke teachers about the best places they know for stealing pencils and pens and resupplying their stash. Here is what we found:
Be a convention crasher
Walk into a random convention. No one will question you if you look and act the part.
Say, “Hey, it’s been forever since I saw you at that meeting.” Of course they didn’t see you, but they won’t admit it.
Use your conversations to work your way around the room, picking up every hotel pen you see. Don’t get greedy and go for the little notebooks. They’re too bulky and you’ll get outed like an old lady who took one too many sugar packets from the diner.
Don’t worry–the real business people don’t want hotel pens. They buy snooty pens and come with a million gadgets. They probably don’t need a pen at all. If you get caught, confess. Let a tear drop from your eye. Real conference attendees will feel sorry for you, and make arrangements for their assistants to send you all the pens they don’t use from their office.
Go to the doctors, and conveniently leave with all the pens on the clipboard. Double-check the office window, because there’s usually a cup full of them there. Take those, too. Just remember to wipe them with an antibacterial wipe–doctors offices are places for sick people.
If you do end up getting sick, return to the doctors. They will have refilled the pen cups and clipboards. Don’t leave those behind!
Once I got a handful of Viagra pens. I figured my students would appreciate them very much.
Getting pens from the doctor’s office only works if you have an appointment. Don’t make an appointment for the purpose of restocking pens. The cost of the copay is more than the cost of pens.
EdCamps and EdTech Conferences
EdCamps are professional development days where teachers gather and share tech ideas that work. It’s about tech, so again, pens aren’t that necessary. You might as well take them. Entrepreneurs set up booths at edtech conferences. This is like winning the pen lottery. If you go home empty-handed, it’s completely your fault!
At really big conferences, you can count on the fact most people “networked” the night before, which means they aren’t feeling very well the next morning of the conference. That leaves a ton of unguarded pens and pencils everywhere.
Banks and Post Offices
It’s the 21st Century. It’s true you never have to go to a bank or post office in person. Banking is online–heck, my bank’s a plane ride away–and companies like Shyp come to you! Still, there’s a good reason for going to the bank and post office…they have pens!
Sure, they’re chained to the counter, because lots of other broke teachers get the same idea, but if you’re really quiet and carry the right tools–say, a small jewelry metal cutter–you can unchain the pen from the counter with as little of the ball-chain attached as possible.
Whenever you see a pen in your school with a bank ball-chain, you’ll have all the evidence you need to call that student out for stealing your pen.
Invite in recruiters
One guidance counselor surveyed for this article said, “The best place for pencils is the military, hands down.” She invites recruiters in just for the pens.
Recruiters bring stickers, water bottles, and pens by the truckload. The same government who spent millions trying to develop a pen that writes in space while Russians used a pencil has tax dollars to spare for marketing and recruiting materials.
I’m proud of my Marine Corps pencils. They make me feel like a true patriotic American at times of great political strife.
The National Guard brings pencils by the boxful, and they set up a rock wall. While students are busy having fun, teachers wipe the government clean of every pencil in sight.
I hope the recruiter doesn’t read this, because he might get those bank chains. Then this’ll take Seal Team Five and a Half to replenish the pens.
Guidance also admits to scheduling blood drives–they also come with pens, and notes that some colleges and test companies produce pens that are also highlighters, too. That’s high budget right there!
Golf tournaments and bowling alleys
You don’t want to simply restock your pencils and pens–you want to KEEP them in your classroom. Getting golf pencils is the surest way to do that. If you get golf pencils, kids will NEVER walk off with them. Nobody wants a golf pencil–even a golfer. They’re a pain to write with and they look shameful to boot.
While some feel the lack of eraser is a sign you won’t make a mistake, no one wants a two-inch pencil you that isn’t even sharpened in the right shape. Get these, and your life will be complete. You will never need to go on a pencil hunt again!