The above board is one of the first things students see when they walk onto the english hallway at Oconee County High School. This board has been up all year and while it might not be incredibly encouraging, it does create a sense that it is okay if the students are struggling some with their writing. It isn't the end of the world if they aren't getting 100% every time they write a paper. It also lets them know that everyone struggles, even published authors. So they need to continue writing even when it's hard. They never know how awesome the end product could be.
Academics are of the utmost importance at OCHS. There is writing all of the school that emphasize how much value the school places on academic success. As soon as the students walk through the front door they see multiple signs that exalt the school's previous and current academic success, as well as the school's vision and mission statements. In addition to this, there are posters up in multiple places that emphasize the importance of going to college, not really showing that there are any other options available. Another cool feature in the school is the above pictured Warrior Academic Hall of Fame. Spanning more than one section of wall in the school, the HoF shows many students from years past and present that have achieved greatness academically. This is a cool idea that encourages students to achieve academically and get their picture up on the wall.
There is writing all over this school that does not allow you to forget what school you are in. The school is covered in blue and white. There are signs and pictures that emphasize the importance of athletics and school spirit, as well as the giant OCs that are printed on the hallway floors, as shown in the first picture of this presentation. The important role that school spirit and pride play in the culture at OCHS is immediately evident to anyone who walks the halls.
Most of the writing in my mentor teacher's classroom is informational or academic. Most of what is emphasized in this writing is the importance of understanding how the classroom and the school operates. There is also some creative writing and illustrations about writing, but it is summarily overwhelmed by the amount of text that is about academia. That is where I take issue with how the classroom is done. There is very little in the room for English students that does not relate to standards or bettering themselves academically. While this is undoubtedly important, that message is pretty clear from all that is posted right inside the front door of the school. The classroom should have some non-academic writing. The classroom should be a space for students to express themselves without fear of how it will be graded.
"Is there not a universal tendency to feel, at some level, 'I want you to accept my writing just the way it is —just the way I put it down. I don't want to have to exert myself to clean it up just to make it easy for you.'" - Elbow
This quote from Peter Elbow's article, "9 Illiteracy at Oxford and Harvard: Reflections on the Inability to Write", expresses how I feel about writing in the classroom. We shouldn't always be expecting perfection from our students in their writing, we should be expecting them to struggle some. Our classrooms should reflect that in some way. While we do need to expect them to do well, perfection is rarely attainable. A student should never sit in a classroom feeling like they are a failure if they do not achieve absolute academic excellence on every assignment.
There are pictures, like the one shown above as well as another one shown below, all over the school. They are all taken by students who are taking either Journalism or Yearbook and I really love that they get this kind of recognition. This isn't writing, but it is a really cool way the school recognizes its students.