Wednesday, January 15, 2014

The Fine Art of Whiteboard Maintenance

If you are fortunate enough to have a whiteboard instead of a blackboard, and by that I do not mean a Smartboard, you have the blessing of a chalkless classroom. Now some people like chalk, and I don't begrudge them, but it doesn't work well for me. For some reason, my awful handwriting is more legible when I use a dry-erase marker. While students still taunt and ridicule my miserable scrawl, they do so to a lesser extent.

Of course if you are fortunate enough to have a Smartboard or its equivalent, you are blessed. You can type just as I am doing now, and no one will have the slightest idea what abysmal handwriting you have. There are good reasons why I choose not to hand-write this blog. But principals wisely decline to place expensive equipment in trailers, as they tend to be far less secure than school buildings. I'm still waiting for the city to get rid of the trailers, as Emperor Bloomberg promised to do in 2012.

On the negative side, after a whiteboard is used regularly, it tends to get covered with hideous black smudge marks. There are a number of ways to deal with this. The first thing to do is clean it. If you're in a trailer you have access to paper towels, and I find that going over them with first wet ones, then dry ones, does the trick. Unfortunately, it's the erasers that spread the smudges, and they are much tougher to clean than the boards.

The most efficient way to get rid of a contaminating eraser is to throw it in the trash. What's problematic about that is that helpful students or teachers tend to retrieve them and replace them, thus causing you to have to clean the board almost immediately. So you need to take other actions. You could throw them out the window and hope no one matches them to your room. Or, you could surreptitiously smuggle the offending eraser out somehow.

Even when you do that, you may find further steps are necessary. For one thing, the rim on which the markers rest may be contaminated with residue. Unfortunately, this will spread to your eraser, no matter how carefully you've selected it.  I suggest taking a wet paper towel to the entire rim. This will place you in the position of being able to write more or less legibly on your whiteboard.

You wouldn't expect a board to be that complicated, but this is just one more thing they don't train you for at this job. It's also one more thing you'll never learn at a PD. That's probably because no genius at the DOE can collect an inflated salary for thinking it up.
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