Christina Adams

It’s not just students who get excited by new stationery at the start of the school year. The shopping expedition for “new pens” is an annual odyssey that always exceeds the set budget.

This year, I was determined to stay calm and not go overboard. After all, I did discover a large pack of highlighters in my desk at the end of last year that was purchased several years ago and had never been used.

Approaching the stationery shop, I have a list of my requirements: new pens, folders and whiteboard markers. This should be fairly straightforward and stress-free. The windows are plastered with “Back to School” posters and there are swarms of kids accompanied by list-carrying parents who look short on time and tolerance.

“But I need the pink exercise book so that I know it’s for Science.”

“Well, it’s $4 more expensive than the plain one so you’re not getting it.”

“Well, I’ll probably fail Science then.”

I walk purposefully to the discounted pens and start to fill my basket with black, blue and red pens. I feel strong and resolved as I stroll past the rows of scissors, glitter pens and textas. Whiteout. Do I need that? No, it just makes a mess. I keep walking. Multi-coloured Blu-Tac. I definitely do need that. I can never find Blu-Tac anywhere at school when I need it and this year I’m going to have my own supply. I’ll know it’s mine too, because of the bright colours. Well spotted. It wasn’t on the list but only because I didn’t know it existed. Off to find folders.

I’ll just get the plain black ones. I can label them and I don’t need fancy ones. Although, now that I’m looking at them, it would make sense to have a different design for each year level and subject. That way I can just grab and go without having to read a label. Then I could get matching document wallets for each class, which is definitely going to help my organisation. There are even matching exercise books for notes that I can make in class. This is brilliant. I’ll just get a trolley …

Gosh! Those whiteboard markers are cheap and they even have purple included in the pack! And those pens are such a good price that I’ll buy a few boxes to hand out to kids who forget their stuff. See? It’s not just me benefiting from this shopping expedition. Do I need an ergonomic chair? Will it fit in the trolley? Maybe I’ll leave that for now as I’ve only just got room for the enormous yearly planner I found. That is really going to keep me on track in 2017.

I know I’m spending a lot, but I can claim it all on tax and it’s not as though I’ve bought a laminator — that was 2012. I’ve changed since then.

Wishing you all a wonderful teaching year with your swag of new stationery. Don’t forget to use your highlighters.

Christina Adams is a member of the Australian Education Union (Victoria) and a stand-up comedian