Every class leaves things behind after the bell rings. Once my charges scoot along on their way, I take stock of the ruin often left of my classroom. I usually try to have them pick up during the last few minutes, but, nonetheless, a thin layer of detritus often remains lingering, like the cast-off slough of a snake skin.
Among the endless items I could catalogue here–notebooks, textbooks, hats, PE shoes, jackets, notes to each other, random drawings, broken pencils, lunch bags, gym bags, wrist bands, toys, candy, and other accessories–the most interesting are the pens.
Pens, if they have a company’s name and logo on them, can tell you a lot about someone. How many TV mysteries have been solved because the detective saw a pen in a suspect’s office from the motel where the body was found?
The pens left in my classroom–even by good classes at a good school–invariably have advertising on them for casinos, social service organizations, and (by far the most often) pharmaceuticals.
I’ve never seen a pen left in my class that came from a college, a bookstore, or a theater. Maybe some kids do have those pens but don’t lose them. Does it say something about people that those with casino pens lose them and those with college pens don’t?
This might be tied in to a fact that I often remind students of when they tell me that they “forgot” to do their homework: you remember the things you care about.
After all, I have never once had a student exit class and leave behind their cell phone.