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The Bulletin Board Burden

Bronx Classroom Tales


My assistant principal has already reminded me three times this year that a bulletin board is “the window into your classroom.” Incredibly, it is through this corkboard window, not the actual window on the actual door of my room, that I have been judged most in the past few months.  

AP:  “Where are your Next Steps Comments?” he asks me.   

Me:  “There aren’t any next steps. I posted their final drafts. I put their grades on there.”

AP:  “But people need to see that you’re offering next steps.”

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Me:  “I did. That’s how they got to the final draft.”

AP:  “But people need to see the Next Steps Comments. Your bulletin board is the window into your classroom.”

 After recognizing last year that our corkboard windows (CW) were disorganized, rarely updated and even cracked, the administration stiffened up the protocols, or really, just wrote protocols for this school year. 

 Each month, we must post:

  1. - A recent assignment the students were given,
  2. - A paragraph orienting this assignment in the context of the unit,
  3. - The rubric used to grade the assignment, the state standards met by the assignment,
  4. - And Next Step Comments! 

That makes for one crowded corkboard window.

 Regardless, I checked off each requirement – cramming eight students’ drafts on the board – before being reminded that aesthetics are not to be ignored and my CW left “very little background color.”

Like most school protocol, my natural reaction to bulletin boards is rebellion. 

What does it matter how pretty a cork board is decorated outside my class? Come in and watch my class if you want to know what’s going on. We’re high school teachers, dag nabbit. I didn’t sign up to post pumpkins in October and green and yellow striped umbrellas in April (though, admittedly, I think back fondly on my assignments with a check-plus and “Way to Go!” sticker posted on the CW of my elementary school classrooms).

In a blow to my “damn the man” attitude, I have to admit the CWs have their purpose. I guess there is a need for visitors to get a chance to see what we’re working on in class, and yeah, I guess I don’t want strangers walking in my room each day, potentially greeted by a disgruntled teenager asking me, “Mister,* who the hell are they?”

And I guess posting a little work once a month is not a large enough burden to get indignant over. (Not like having to stay for a ten minute staff meeting after school on Wednesdays and having to submit typed lesson plans on actually paper, not a napkin, at any given moment – which have both been fought against and defeated through the mighty Union of Federated Teachers.) 

So with each passing year, I get a little less rebellious and a little more sympathetic toward the administration and their protocols – whether as a part of my reluctant transition into adulthood or the ubiquitous push teachers feel to move up the administrative ladder (our own corporate ladder). 

Either way, my corkboard windows have been up on time this year and looking a little prettier – maybe not “bird flying through the window” sparkling perfection, but an improvement. At the very least, I can give myself a sticker for that: “Done!” 

How do you bear the bulletin board burden? Share in the comments section!

*  At least in the Bronx, it is common to have male teachers addressed as “Mister” and female teachers as “Miss,” although I have also been addressed as “Miss” and even “Mom” in the past three years.


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