Monday, January 10, 2011

Goodbye Chalkboards, Hello Whiteboards

R.I.P. Chalkboard

If I to spot a highway patrolman aiming a radar gun my way, I automatically tap the breaks even though I’m not speeding.  Sometimes authority elicits a Pavlovian response from me.  So, when Mr. Miller and Mr. Ritenour from Maintenance strode into my room last week wearing serious faces, I worried.  Their expressions prompted a quick self-check which brought to mind two potential problems:    A couple of weeks ago, the fire department warned us that our art cart’s location near the kiln posed a fire hazard.  And two, my students recently removed Christmas paintings from the school windows using razor blades.   A discreet glance in the direction of the cart sadly confirmed its unresolved proximity to the kiln room.  As far as the windows, one might have been damaged in the process of scraping off paint.  On one hand I pictured getting officially cited and fined by the fire department; while on the other, a ruined window loomed in the hallway.  (I don’t even want to think about what that costs).  Discretion being the better part of valor, I decided to wait and see which of the problems I needed to answer by inquiring, “What can I do for you?”  in as cheerful a voice as I could manage.

You could have pushed me over with a feather when they both broke into wide smiles and asked if I’d still like to switch out our chalkboards for whiteboards.  Thanks to a local university who donated rather than discard them, we inherited whiteboards which otherwise were out of our reach this year.   Needless to say, when they left, I immediately remedied the art cart situation and re-examined the windows.  “No worries,” as the Aussies would say, cart and windows now pass scrutiny.   Our ability to quickly and easily remove marks vastly improved overnight with the use of whiteboards – we just love them.  I am wondering about my ability to accurately decipher facial expressions, though.   I need to bone up on my Paul Ekman.