Saving trees — like it or not

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The school has been out of paper for weeks, at least paper for teachers. I was out of paper, too. I had lent the last of my personal stash to the guy next door. The copy machines run on empty most of the time now, waiting for their latest gulp of Walmart’s special 20 weight foolscap.

I nonetheless ambled toward the machines to try to make copies of a probability handout. No paper. No obliging colleagues carrying personal paper to share. No chance to barter for homework copies, or depend on the kindness of relative strangers. I trotted back to my classroom. It’s faster and easier to pass out copies, but students receive some benefit from copying material projected from the document camera.

Eduhonesty: I have bought a lot of my own paper this year. My fellow teachers are doing the same. Given that we just got a seven-figure government grant, though, I wonder why I am supporting Walmart. Couldn’t the district buy more paper? Where is our paper?

I am sure the students don’t mind. The paper crisis cuts down on homework, for one thing. I’d like to observe that students complete homework printed on white paper much more often than problems they have written down for themselves. I know this to be true from experience. I suspect that photocopied assignments simply seem more official and therefore less optional.

Maybe we are conserving the Earth’s resources. Like the hotels that no longer wash towels, we no longer replace paper, saving the trees for posterity. If so, I can get behind our grand gesture — especially since I do not seem to have a choice. Let the trees win, I say. Decreased grading is not proving all that hard on me, actually.

If I were trying to pull up the learning and scores of a struggling district, I’d have paper on hand, though. More completed homework does help us with that mission. Just saying.