"It's covered in scribbles. Have you considered updating your paper and using a new page."
"Just make it work," he tells me.
The same morning, as I'm setting up for lesson plans, another teacher walks in. "My notebook is broken."
"What do you mean, broken?"
"The rings won't work anymore," she explains. "I have no idea what happened." This is code word for, "I dropped this and don't want to buy a new binder."
The same day, I have a teacher complain to me about her notebook. "I was running out of room on my notebook and then I got sick of having a cluttered desktop. You know, papers everywhere and all, so I tossed it in the trash can. I have a lot more space now, but I can't seem to find my lesson plan folder."
"You can't get it out of the trash can," I explain.
"But I've done that before."
"Yes, but if the trash is emptied, I can't go search through the landfill to find your lesson plan folder."
Paper and binders are flimsier than slates and they require a little more care. I'd love to say that teachers always do an amazing job being stewards of materials, but I've found that they can be worse than the kids. It has me thinking that perhaps we won't see full pencil integration (a term that still jars me) until pencils become either a durable or consumable good. For the time being, they are still too expensive to fix and too easy to break.