Tomorrow afternoon I am going to schlepp up to school (I haven’t even begun teaching at a Jewish school and already I’m peppering my speech pretty heavily with yiddishisms) to decorate my classroom. If there’s one thing I’m good at – besides, I hope, teaching – it’s making a blank room feel like home. After living in my apartment for a month, it looked like I had been here for a decade. When I taught ESL this summer, the first activity I did was an acronym poem that involved multicoloured construction paper and collage. We taped the colourful poems all over the chalky drywall and the room was instantly transformed. We nearly forgot that we were in a former chocolate factory surrounded by heavy construction…nearly.
But that’s a story for another night.
I don’t have my own classroom this year. I am sharing two classrooms with a number of other teachers, so I have to be respectful of their space, but I’m hoping they won’t mind a little colour, some thought provoking quotes, a little mind/eye candy. I ordered a Toronto neighbourhood map poster from Ork.
Part of my mission this year – as a geography teacher but also as a bit of a personal crusade – is to get these quasi-suburban kids to love their city! I think this poster (and my nonstop Toronto chauvinism) will help.
I have a couple more posters – a nice one on the UN Declaration of Human Rights that I got as swag from the recent Facing History and Ourselves seminar.
Tonight, cooling down from a pleasant nighttime bike ride to Trinity Bellwoods with Heather, I plopped on my living room floor and wrote out a bunch of quotes that I want to hang around my classrrooms. I found them flipping through some of my favourite books or surfing online. Some of them relate to English or to literature. Some are social-science oriented. Some geography. All on colourful construction paper.
Here are a few of them:
“History is the gradual instant” (Anne Michaels, Fugitive Pieces)
“Public parks hazy with subtropical memory, a city built in the bowl of a prehistoric lake.” (Anne Michaels, Fugitive Pieces)
“One can look deeply for meaning or one can invent it.” (Anne Michaels, Fugitive Pieces)
“Research is to see what everybody else has seen, and to think what nobody else has thought” (Albert Seznt-Gyorgyi)
“How we humans came to be the way we are is far less important than how we should act now to get out of the mess we have made for ourselves” (Jane Goodall, Reason for Hope)
“Before the real city could be seen it had to be imagined” (Michael Ondaatje, In the Skin of a Lion)
“The first sentence of every novel should be: “Trust me, this will take time but there is order here, very faint, very human.”” (Michael Ondaatje, In the Skin of a Lion)
“…a technique common to liars and writers of fiction: to give credibility to invented details by blending them with factual ones.” (Michael Chabon, Maps and Legends)
The lunatic, the lover, and the poet
Are of imagination all compact. (William Shakespeare, “A Midsummer’s Night Dream”)
“If we value the pursuit of knowledge, we must be free to follow wherever that search may lead us. The free minds is not a barking dog, to be tethered to a ten-foot chain” (Adlai E. Stevenson)
“All truths are easy to understand once they are discovered; the point is to discover them.” (Galileo Galilei)
“The only possible conclusion the social sciences can draw is: some do, some don’t. “(Ernest Rutherford)
“If you intend to write as truthfully as you can, your days as a member of polite society are numbered.” (Stephen King)
“Either our lives become stories, or there’s just no way to get through them.” (Douglas Coupland, Generation X)
‘There is only one difference between a madman and me. I am not mad.” (Salvador Dali)
“Life moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it.”
Teachers: which quotes do you put on your walls?