There are many great reasons to teach at the high school level: no outdoor recess duty, college level content, plus, a teacher never has to choose a “line leader”. Best of all, there are no bulletin board requirements.
While most elementary school classroom walls are crammed with colorful thematic cut-outs (apples, shamrocks, stars), high school walls are monochromatic. While middle school classrooms have student work displayed regularly, an essay hung in September will curl and fade on the wall of a high school classroom twisting in the air like an ancient leaf of papyrus.
Generally speaking, high school teachers do not spend a lot of time decorating the classroom. Subject content or motivational posters are the wall covering of choice, unchanged for the requisite 181 days of instruction. Perhaps it is inevitable that teachers who share classrooms do not personalize classrooms.
However, for one brief part of the 3rd grading quarter, Read Across America Week (February 25-March 1st) changed the decorating habits of the faculty at Wamogo Middle/High School.
In a collective effort to demonstrate the importance of reading to students, teachers from every discipline decorated their classroom doors with materials they have read or are currently reading.
Admittedly, when the “Doors of Wamogo” was announced, there was a little hesitation. What would go on the door? When was this “due”?
Finally, a few brave souls stepped up. First, there was the Social Studies teacher, an Army Reserve Colonel, who started by hanging “classified” documents on his door. His display was followed by the Business and Career Department teacher, also a basketball coach, who hung sports magazines and the cover of a Bobby Knight memoir.
The English Department members, the Literary Specialist, and the media center Librarian displayed a range of the reading, from Where the Wild Things Are to Great Expectations.
As the week went on, the competition became a little more intense. Finally, the Grade 8 Social Studies teacher simply emptied out his bookshelf and placed all his favorite texts alongside the door in addition to the door.
Perhaps one of the more interesting outcomes was the sharing of titles between faculty and staff. “Oh, I loved that book!” one teacher would say to another. “This is a hard book, but well worth the effort,” said one teacher. “Yes, we read this in our ‘book club’!” exclaimed another. “Who is the Jody Picoult freak?” questions a science fiction reader. “How much Stephen King can you read?” was the retort.
Students had a chance to look at all the titles: assigned reading from high school that they currently are reading (Romeo and Juliet, Animal Farm), political/history books, and sports memoirs. There were magazine covers, newspaper mastheads, and comic strips. Blogger, WordPress, Twitter, Facebook logos were prominent, social media as informational texts.
So what the “Doors of Wamogo” created for Read Across America Day in our small rural school was a very large window. The doors provided a window into the lives of our faculty, a window for our students to see us as readers, and for our students to see what books made us successful.
These doors illustrate how reading gave each teacher and staff member a chance to at the window of opportunity; reading = individual success.
We had so much fun, we might try decorating again next year!
Happy Read Across America Day, 2013!