Words of Wisdom

Youth is wasted on the young.

Tuesday, 18 May 2010

I Am The Pencil Nazi


First you have to understand NAPLAN.

The National Assessment Program - Literacy and Numeracy, aka NAPLAN, aka Basic Skills testing, was introduced in Australia in 2008. Pupils are tested in years 3, 5, 7 and 9 in: Reading, Writing, Language Conventions (spelling and grammar) and Numeracy (with and without calculators). The tests take place over the same
3 days, in a prescribed order, across the entire country. As of this year, results are posted on the controversial My Schools website. Rightly or wrongly, they are a big deal.

So, in each school you have to have a NAPLAN coordinator and, for my sins, at our school it happens to be me. There's a lot of receiving, counting and securing test papers; briefing test supervisors, arranging timetables and rooms and, most importantly, dealing with the pencils.
When we were first introduced to the running of the tests, the powers that be recommended providing all writing materials for the pupils so that none were disadvantaged (or able to avoid the test) through lack of writing materials. Therefore, I duly purchased 90+ plastic bags, pencils and rubbers and numbered the whole lot of them, making up packs to supply to each classroom during testing.

At the end of the first year I was approximately 10 pencils down. This included bags coming back with missing pencils or simply, bags missing altogether! What were they doing? Eating them??? I sighed the sigh of inevitability and went about topping up my losses. At the end of last year, I put the whole lot into a cupboard with the intention of checking them later. Of course, later turned out to be the beginning of the week of the 2010 testing . Imagine my horror then as the morning before the start of the tests I counted everything and realised there were over THIRTY missing!!!!!!!! And not just pencils! Thirty bags in pretty much sequential order!! Well, it was obvious. SOME teacher had simply not returned the materials from last year.

I sent out a polite but desperate email. Please check your cupboards, drawers, wherever! I know this was not intentional but I really need those missing pencils!!

Muttering grimly about lackadaisical teachers and gritting my teeth I bought new bags, pencils and rubbers and stayed back until 7pm that night ensuring they were ready to go for the big tests the next day. I spent an hour the next night going through the bags, counting every pencil and rubber and sharpening where needed (btw: thanks to those two willing Year 12s who helped me out because of course they had no study to do, did they? Right.).
All was well.

The next day however, was a different story. Firstly someone suggested that the year 7s had sharpened their pencils away to such an extent that they needed replacing!!!!!!!!! What the heck was that about? they were meant to be doing a test not beating a path to the rubbish bin for pencil sharpening purposes. (Later, when I checked their classroom for something I happily realised they had not been beating a path. The shavings were all over the floor.) Well anyway, pencil replacement was not going to happen!!!! They could learn the hard way about the hard heart of the Pencil Nazi.

Secondly, when I checked the year 9 boxes, I discovered that not one but two bags and a pencil sharpener were missing!
(cue dramatic music: duh duh daaaaaaaaaaah!)

(I ask you...does this look like an organised box to you?)

I immediately set about on a campaign to name and shame the irresponsible test supervisors who had LOST MY PENCILS!!!!!!!!

Email announcements went out, congratulating the one supervisor who had managed to return everything correctly. Lists of missing items were posted, although in my mercy I did not at this point reveal the names of the sloppy teachers who had allowed my stationery to be snaffled!

The following morning I found an apologetic note and two replacement pencil sharpeners in my pigeon hole. At least someone was feeling guilty. As it transpired, more than one person must have been feeling guilty because when that box came back at the end of the third day it contained, not one, but three pencil sharpeners! Not quite sure how that happened.

I supervised a test myself on the final day and pupils cowered in fear as I ruled the exam room with a fist of steel and the temper of a recently woken dragon:


All my items were returned correctly.

Later the next day, as I headed to the supermarket and bottlo for my Friday night essential supplies, I rummaged about in the boot of my car looking for a recycled shopping bag. There's still a bit of junk from mum and dad's move lurking in my car and it was hard to find a decent bag in the dark and, hello, what's this? This bag feels heavier than the others........

I found the missing thirty pencils. But noone needs to know that right? Just between you, me and the internet.....


Cara said...

Don't you hate when that happens! Too funny!

Maggie said...

Ha! You're right - no one needs to know ;)

Anonymous said...



SSG said...

this is awesome, and why I think I love you!

Anonymous said...

What a wonderful daughter we have.The way you care for all those difficult children and usually keep on top of things is magical.However a cold creeping up and lack of support from other staff must tire you out.We love you for who you are and what you do God Bless

natalie said...

hahahahahahahahahaha!!!! You are too funny! That is so a story that I would tell.

At least you found the missing pencils. But I am curious about how they ended up in your car?

Arizaphale said...

Oh I'd taken them home to 'sort' about a week before the tests and then hadn't got around to it. With all the stuff that has been going in and out of my car it is a miracle the pencils didn't end up in an op shop or on ebay :-D