A View With A View

Blank Walls Build Community

The beginning of the year is one of the most exciting times for educators. We get to start new– new students, new supplies (who doesn’t love brand new pencils?), and a sense of renewed energy from summer break. Having been teaching for a long time, I have a ‘Beginning of the Year’ routine. The first day of faculty orientation, I walk around every part of my classroom and look at the blank walls. I imagine everything that once lived there and then I wonder what will live there next. That sense of wondering is a privilege in my eyes. While many of my dear friends, who teach at other institutions, are scanning Pinterest or purchasing pre-made themed bulletin boards, I feel excitement at the endless possibilities of my blank walls. The walls of Bank Street rooms are like a blank canvas, just waiting to be filled with collaborations of a new community—a new family.

Slowly, our walls will fill with our thoughts and ideas, our collaborations and creations: our drawings of Bank Street, self portraits, pictures and reflections of ‘Important Things,” neighborhood walk sketches, science experiment outcomes, our class expectations, our Responsibility chart. Our classrooms will reflect our community’s energies, goals, interests, and joy. When walking through our building and seeing the walls of each room, there is an immediate sense of who is in that room. We put pieces of ourselves around the room to make our spaces our home. When our children come into the room each day and see their work, their ideas and thoughts, and their wonderings hanging on the walls, it inspires them. They feel pride and excitement not only to see their work but to share it with their families and our community. Throughout the year, as our walls change, we become witness to our own growth, how our letters have evolved, how our thoughts have expanded, and how our outward expression of those thoughts become clearer.

A tradition of Room 302 is to keep all of our work, charts, ideas, and creations that grew on our walls throughout the year and, during the last week of school, we look through them, remember, and reflect. Sharing our thoughts and memories always makes me cry happy tears. So, I guess it is the blank walls of a seemingly empty classroom that gives life and grows a new community each year.

Early September 2019

Mid-October 2019

Susie Rios is a 6/7s Head Teacher at Bank Street School for Children.