Yes, I love working with kids. Yes, I love helping them to deepen their understandings of themselves and the world. Yes, I want them to feel accountability and responsibility to the larger community in which they live. Yes, I want to change the world and believe that working with a generation to do so is a very effective way. Yes to all of that. But the real reason, the deep-seated commitment that I have to this profession, the reason I get up in the morning is …..
I get to write on Blackboards. Especially real black ones, not green ones that are still called “blackboards,” by the way. (What’s up with that? At least white boards are accurately labeled…don’t really like those very much either.) There is something very centering and satisfying about visually organizing my day in this manner, as well as about getting to use all sorts of colored chalks. Somehow the bold contrast of the colors against the black gives a dramatic and adventurous feel to the day’s agenda.
Part of my routine each day is to list at the top of the board, next to the pointing finger, what the kids need for class. In this way they have no excuse for forgetting what materials are required. (Actually there are still a few who do. …Sigh…) Under the date is listed what will be happening in class that day. I know if kids understand what the itinerary is, they will be more likely to focus, and the time will seem to go faster for them. I think there is something very respectful about letting the kids know what is going to happen for the next 45 to 90 minutes. Note the word “incorporation” is in parentheses because some classes took care of understanding that concept yesterday. Also note that the end of class we will see a little bit more of Mr. Smith Goes to Washington.
The house at the bottom of the board is where homework is listed. Inside the house is a strange drawing. It is probably hard to guess what it is, but is meant to be a brain. We are having a huge Constitution test on Thursday and the idea is that the kids need to study a lot for the next few days in order to be successful, ie brain = study for the test. The kids know this is a brain; I have used this symbol many times before — except, as RT said this morning when she walked into the room to check what her homework was, “Oh, it’s the cauliflower again.”
This picture was taken by a student on his iphone who wasn’t supposed to have his cell phone with him (school rules), but whipped it out, along with 5 other students, when I asked if anyone had a camera.