Signs In The Schools

A teacher in our program gave me a sign to hang in my room. Not a good teacher. Not one with whom I have a lot of contact. Mostly I stay away. Sometimes I play like bad teaching is contagious and that helps me keep my distance. She came to my room with a sign saying something like, no kids in the hall ten minutes prior to dismissal. I read the sign and then handed it back to the teacher. "I can't hang this in my room," I said. She said we have to. I circled a mid-sentence word on the sign that was capitalized for no reason and added a carat where another word was missing. "Did you make this?" I asked. She said it was another person on staff.

That other staff member hates when I correct her writing, but if she wants the sign hung, that's the price she has to pay. I explained the typos without fanfare. I've been down this particular road too often with her. On the way back to my classroom I thought about signs and messages.

There are ways to go about running a school such as the one at which I'm currently, but not for much longer, employed. I have my ideas and some colleagues agree with me. Others don't. They make signs that, despite typographic errors, five the stern message that students better behave or else.

In my class we are watching The Green Mile. There's a bit of dialogue I could have written about teaching school:

...our job is talking, not yelling. You'd do better to think of this place like an intensive care ward.

We have had some trouble around dismissal time. A few kids get out of class and cause some bother in the halls. Bother. I can't call it trouble. I keep my door closed and stand with my back against it talking with the kids or just listening as we wait for dismissal. I try to smile.

Now consider what I'm doing. The door swings into the room to open. To go out, a kid would have to pull me out of the way. They're unlikely to do that. This is my kind of sign. It feels gentle. There's an understanding I pass on by standing there. Some kids know what I'm doing and nod at it. Those who don't know at least see that we all stay in the room until dismissal. That's good enough.

I suppose I'll have to hang the sign once it's rewritten. I won't like it and I won't use it. The tone of the thing is too angry. That sign yells at the kids. Me, I'd prefer to talk with them. It's how I would want to be treated.