I teach tenth grade. Occasionally I have the kids do a project in class that requires the momentary use of scissors. I decided that my whole life would be much better if I had a class set of scissors, so I asked for them. My school is very accommodating about supplying colored paper, markers, crayons, and glue for my tactile kids, but apparently scissors are a whole different story.
Me: Can I get a class set of scissors for my room?
Administrator: You can’t give all your kids scissors. They’ll get hurt!
Me: They’re in tenth grade. I’m sure they can handle it.
Administrator: I don’t think it’s a good idea.
This method wasn’t getting me anywhere quickly, so I switched strategies and pulled out my arsenal of education terms. After a long conversation I convinced my administrator that having a class set of scissors would improve student performance because it would allow me to differentiate instruction to accommodate kinesthetic learners. I think I also said something about cross-curricular connections. She conceded the point and agreed to order a class set of scissors. I was so delighted the day I got my box of scissors. I opened it up to discover that I had been supplied with safety scissors. I was tempted for a moment to go remind my administrator that I teach tenth grade not kindergarten, and the rounded tip was unnecessary. I couldn’t think of a good way to explain that in education terms, so I decided to be content with my box of safety scissors.
I had a chance to use my newly acquired treasure just a few days later. My first period students were the lucky ones that got to initiate the scissors. I explained the assignment and then eagerly presented each of them with a pair of scissors to use. Near the end of class one of my students called from across the room “Miss, do you have a band aid?” “I’m sorry, I don’t. What do you need it for?” He responded by lifting his bleeding hand into the air. Quite surprised I asked “What did you do?” He looked at the ground and mumbled something that started with, “I was cutting…”
I decided this was an isolated incident. Surely the average tenth grader could cut paper using safety scissors without getting hurt. And my second period class was not filled with average tenth graders. It was an honors class. So I pressed forward. I explained the instructions to second period and confidently presented each student with a pair of scissors to use. This time much more near the beginning of the class I was again interrupted with the question “Miss, do you have a band aid?” Apparently my administrator was right. Tenth graders cannot handle scissors. In a somewhat exasperated, non-nurturing, and unsympathetic tone I asked her how she managed to cut herself while using safety scissors. Her response: “Miss, they’re really sharp.”
I still occasionally assign projects that require the use of scissors. I’m still really excited about my class set of scissors. And I now keep a box of band aids in my desk.