If you've ever met an elementary school teacher, you've met an angel on Earth. I'm not sure there is any other profession that requires as much from a person and expect her/him to do many different things at the same time flawlessly. It's one thing to mess up a bunch of paperwork, but something completely different to mess up someone's kid. There are many areas of greatness that I could go on and on about in the life of an elementary teacher, but today I will focus on just one element. The dreaded bulletin board display.
Now don't get me wrong.....I like how bulletin boards brighten up the hallways at school. Most professional places lack this sort of creativity. There are two parts of bulletin boards that I don't like. The first is thinking of a decent display to do and the accompanying corny title. The other is just the sheer time it takes to put the thing up. And if you've got even the slightest bit of OCD, you can forget it...because the border won't be right and your letters won't be straight. I think that doing bulletin boards may be part of the OCD'ers intervention and recovery plan. I've been out of bulletin board rehab for quite awhile and am proud of my progress!
The aspect that most pains me is getting the idea for a bulletin board display. I have several books and of course the Internet is really good for stealing ideas too, but I find that most of my boards come from my brain after much worry and debate. I have an idea for one and then start to thinking about a decent title. This is part is my roadblock. You see, I don't think people realize that creating a bulletin board with a cheesy title is a "must have" in elementary school. More often than not, you do some title that has a play on words. What kills me about it is that most kids that young don't get it. It's wasted humor.
For example, a couple of years ago, I did a back to school bulletin board with the title, "We're a GRAPE bunch!" and took purple party plates and wrote the kids names in paint pen on them and arranged them on the board like a bunch of grapes. The kids didn't get it. They did tell me that I spelled the word "great" wrong. For that, I was grateful. At least I got them to thinking. The titles are really hard to come up with for me, so I usually "collaborate" AKA ask the teachers around me what a good title would be. The teacher across the hall from me LOVES to do bulletin boards and really gets into it when I ask her. She is very creative and has come over to help me out many times. She plans her bulletin board displays a year in advance. Obviously she's never heard of the bulletin board 12 step program.
One Christmas I was hanging students' stockings in the room on the backdrop of a butcher paper fireplace. My lovely teacher friend came right over and drew my bricks for me. She has drawn more bulletin board stuff for me than I'd like to admit. I'm not sure where the line is from "collaborator" and "creative genius" but I find it's pretty blurry. Her handwriting is really nice too....that's always a bonus when she's lettering something for me.
As you may not be aware, we've just started back to school. Outside my room I have two bulletin boards and I cover my door and use it as well. The kids did the large board at the end of last year and it looks fabulous. They made a huge sailing ship with mast and pirate flag sailing on an ocean of waves. They made the sun setting in the distance and an island of treasure just on the horizon. I added pictures of the students' faces in the boat and the title says, "We're sailing into fifth grade!" I think most kids get this since the obvious association is with a sailing ship. (Side note...I have some very artistic students. They ate this project up.) The other outside bulletin board is used to chart students' progress in Accelerated Reader. The title for that one is "A.R.e you meeting your goal?" (I stole this title from a teacher friend.) On my door I have a map of the United States that says "Mrs. Rosamond's class is going places!" and the students have little pictures of themselves attached to little cars and they're driving around the door. The border of the door is surrounded in post cards. The saving grace for me here is that a couple of my students' parents came in this summer and put it together for me. I gave them the idea and they went with it. And went they did. It turned out fabulous!
So I've already started worrying about the bulletin board displays for next month. I think that the kids doing the big one in their spare time was great....they really enjoyed it and have asked when they could do another one. (It took lots of planning and measuring to do it right! Ahhh authentic learning!) It does take some time to do so we'll have to plan it accordingly. If you have any "cheesy" ideas for a board....let me know. One can never have enough cheese in their life!