Ellen McGuigan

Secondary School, English, Science,

When I began teaching 5 years ago, I started an annual tradition of giving my Year 7 or 8 class an engraved pencil at the end of our year together. I challenge them to try keep it until they graduate high school, with the promise of a class party if they succeed.

At the end of last year my first cohort I did this with graduated Year 12 and we had our ‘pencil party’ where we ate good food while reminiscing on their high school journey and talking about their future plans.

Students brought along their pencils, and most hadn't even sharpened it yet - so my next challenge is that they use them to write their future beyond school! My favourite part is that despite not teaching the cohort again between Year 8 and the recent party, I was frequently stopped on playground duty, in supervising lessons and even the local supermarket as students reminded me they still had THAT pencil! It was a beautiful way to build relationships and stay connected, especially in a high school setting where this is often more challenging as we typically don't carry a cohort through the year levels.

Ellen McGuigan
Ellen McGuigan momento

Are you a teacher with an inspiring story and do you have a keepsake from a student that reminds you of a special teaching moment?

Submit your story today