Monday, August 8, 2011

Bulletin Boards - Are they worth it?

One of the things that summer school gave me was a window into the thinking of other teachers from my county. We came from schools from all over the beach area. Each day on the playground we would have a few minutes to discuss some topic or the other. Certainly the highs and lows of summer school were often on the list along with when we were going to get paid, but one day, the conversation turned to standard-based bulletin boards. I was sitting with teachers from three other schools along with a couple of younger teachers from my own school that have only taught at my school.

Standard-based bulletin boards are a type of bulletin board that raise the level of display to showcase student work. They have a specific configuration that includes a title, a description of the task the students were asked to do and the standards addressed, four pieces of student work and commentary about each piece of work. At Chets Creek one of the non-negotiables for each teacher is that they present a bulletin board at each of the six times of the year that the boards are scheduled to be changed. The bulletin board is suppose to be a "window into the instruction in the classroom." For the most part, teachers take great pride in the work that they present and are always looking for creative ways to express the depth of the work in the classroom on a board. At one time, standard-based boards were the norm in our county, but I guess as so many things have changed, that expectation has taken on different meaning at different schools. One of the teachers from another school said that they were only required to have one standard-based board on each grade level and another said that they only had to have one on each hallway. The young teacher from my own school who was sitting beside me was amazed. What in the world do you put on your bulletin board if you don't do a standard-based board? I had to laugh remembering that delightful turkey I made one year out of my husband's ties for it's tail or the cute reindeer faces that my children made one year with the colored balloon noses that we labeled "Rudolph's Cousins" or that really cute dancing hippo I made with the tutu skirt that said, "Dancing into First Grade!" oh so many years ago.
It's a little sad to me that so many teachers do not see the value in designing the type of boards that require reflection and that provide their own type of professional development as you sit in front of someone else's board and figure out what they did and how they did it. It's such a conversation starter among colleagues and pushes our thinking.
I am glad that we have kept that piece in our work at Chets. Don't get me wrong. There are times when I hate the idea of putting up a new board because they take time and effort and I have to really think... and who wants to have to think? I guess that's my point...

1 comment:

Suzanne said...

I hope we never abandon this practice. If schools aren't all about showcasing and benchmarking student work, then what is the sense?