Good news! I have finally solved the pencil drama! Actually, my teacher friend, Abbey Myers, solved it for me. She showed me her idea for pencils. She said she found it somewhere on Pinterest, so I don't know whose original idea this is. Abbey took some decorative Duck Tape and put it
around the top of a pencil, creating a little flag. This flag lets students know that these pencils belong to the teacher, but they can borrow one at any time. I keep about 10 flagged pencils in a can on the counter. Students borrow, but the little flag reminds them that they need to return it at the end of the day. The Duck Tape brand has super cute patterns and colors from which to choose.
I also have students sharpen their pencils at dismissal time. This helps reduce time wasted in the mornings when they first arrive. I can't count how many times students walked around the room for 5 minutes in the morning trying to sharpen their pencils.
Here's to no more pencil drama!