Saturday, February 2, 2013

Chalk and Yardsticks

I taught a class this morning and found myself thinking about what I thought about teaching when I was little.

I expected it to include a lot of chalkboard use. If you went to elementary school in a time where chalkboards were used quite a bit, you may recall that getting the chance to write on one was a coveted experience, even by us shy ones. If you were lucky, your teacher had one of those cool chalk holders, and if you were really lucky, you got to use it a couple times.

In middle school, we still used chalkboards for the most part. But in high school, it was all whiteboards. Also exciting, because it still had the same concept: stand in front of the class, write something on the board in different colors, get back to your seat and see what you wrote still up there. Cool. Plus, high schoolers have a thing about sniffing markers. So there's that.

But I haven't used a chalkboard in years. I don't think I've touched chalk, or even seen it, except maybe some sidewalk chalk at Target in the summer. We have a chalkboard in the classroom at the Virginia Beach campus. We won't in the new building, I'm sure of that, and Portsmouth doesn't have one. I want to use it, just once, before we move to the new building. The problem is, I have no good reason to do so. (Plus, I'd probably have to go buy my own chalk, because I'm sure there isn't any in there.)

In elementary school, we had those pull-down maps. Dozens of them, it seemed, and the teacher never pulled down the right one first. We'd be discussing the history of Virginia, and to make a point, she'd go pull down the map for Virginia... no wait, that's the world map. That one's America. Hey, someone point out Virginia. Because I totally meant to pull down this one, to ask you that. Good, it's right there. Okay, Virginia map... there we go. At least once per school year, you'd go to put the map back up, and lose your grip, and it would fly up, making a loud noise and causing the canister thing to swing back and forth well after you started talking to the class again.

Teachers would point to these maps with yardsticks. They made a pleasant, light 'thwap' sound if you pointed enthusiastically enough. You could slide it around on the map to circle an area for emphasis, or to indicate a path, and there was a little 'swish' sound.

I want to point at maps with yardsticks, and write on chalkboards. Is that so much to ask?

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