Friday, March 03, 2017

Hello, Walls

This year has been a tough one for bulletin boards. It used to be that this was a feature of our school that went largely unnoticed by students and staff, with some of the same paper and kid drawings hanging on the walls outside classrooms for months at a time. With a re-invigoration of our school focus on student learning and promoting the best and brightest as much and as often as possible, we started the year with a vision of using these vertical reminders as a place where teachers could promote all of that good learning, and students could reflect on the work they did.
Somewhere along the line, however, this renewed commitment to bulletin boards slipped off the track. We still have a lot of great things going on in our classrooms, and a lot of it gets stapled to the colorful backgrounds with die or hand cut letters describing it in clever terms. All of which would be lovely if we had velvet ropes to keep the patrons from interacting so abruptly with the masterpieces generated here. Maybe a glass case inside of which we could keep those objects most precious to us: the self-portraits or the autobiographies, the Black History Month essays or the book reports.
Maintenance is the challenge. All those wandering eyes and fingers searching for the loose edge of the corner not properly tacked down. One of our teachers reflected with great empathy on just how hard it is to keep your hands from rubbing along that corrugated border at the bottom of each board. She described the texture and the sound as both pleasing and soothing. And if it were just the occasional loose strip of border that needed to be tacked down, it wouldn't be such a drag.
It's not.
This year we have seen a marked rise in the straight up trashing of our bulletin boards. Whole boards have been torn apart by students who were supposed to be on their way to the bathroom, office or some other destination. Couple this with the increase of available targets. With all that student work hanging out there in easy reach, the temptation to take out whatever frustrations that exist in our kids is suddenly just too great. As a result the need for a daily stapler patrol has become part of the routine. The sad faces on teachers and students when they encounter shreds of butcher paper hanging in tatters outside their classrooms is an event repeated all too often these days. Putting the responsibility for repair of these fits of vandalism with those responsible is a tough lesson to manage. Building respect for the walls around you is not easy when it has always seemed that elves were in charge of their upkeep.
Putting the staplers in the hands of those who might seek to undo their job seems to be the first step.  

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