Last year, I visited a school that had teachers do something that I thought, at that time, was a little too Stepford Wives-ish: At the front of each classroom in that building, the whiteboard was configured in the same way, with the homework assignment outlined in one corner of the board, the agenda for that class period shared in another, the Do Now written out somewhere else, that same configuration from classroom to classroom. I remembered bristling at this practice, thinking about teacher individuality and how the whiteboard can be symbolically important in sharing with kids that individuality.
Well, I’m over that. My mind is changed, and it changed the other night when listening to the principal at my son’s middle school talk about kids and their class schedules. Teachers might have two or three class preps, she said, but middle school students have as many as seven, as they move from different class to different class, re-booting themselves for math and then English and then science, all of which might have different routines and procedures.
I’ve not yet visited my son’s school and his classes – he’d be horror-stricken if I ask – but I’m imagining that some things are just not the same from classroom to classroom. The basket one teacher uses to collect homework vs. the colored folders used by another or the class jobs that one teacher has, which may not be followed in other classrooms. There will be different routines and procedures from one classroom to the other, and these differences don’t always bode well for middle school students struggling with their executive functioning skills. Like our son.
So, forget my initial hesitancy about the practice of consistent whiteboard configuration from classroom to classroom. Make it happen across the school, to help middle school students – heck, any level student – with organizational issues. The homework assignment written out in the same corner from classroom to classroom, the agenda and the objective for the day’s lesson in the same place, no matter if it’s English or social studies. Give students some modicum of consistency from classroom to classroom, all in the hopes of strengthening their organizational muscles.
I got the whiteboard image from this page.