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Plank Ownership


Found in: building trust& community

On the first day in a new facility, I wondered how to give the kids unique memories. As we dismantled the old building, I marveled at treasures found in back corners. I wanted my students to leave some treasure for the day when this building is no longer needed. I explained to students about plank ownership when crewmembers on a new Navy vessel are considered plank owners and leave their autographs. Even ancient architecture reveals notes left by workers.

I scanned the science lab. Under the counters are many long tall cupboards. Each cupboard has an underside that can only be seen lying on the floor. These surfaces became the place for autographs. I supplied students with markers and these requests: be tasteful in what you write and be certain it cannot be seen from a standing position. All 140 of my biology students found ways of contorting their bodies to tag the undersides. I grinned as I watched it, thinking of future class reunions, visits to this school with their own children and even their grandchildren.

I imagine the memories that will return to those who are still limber enough to get down on the floor and gaze at the underside on which they wrote. I also grinned to think of all the teachers and students who will occupy this room over the next 40 years, never knowing what is here. It is a secret shared. Before I leave the profession this June, I will tag the teacher station with a note on that cupboard. I will explain to the reader that there are many treasures to be found here, if only they look.

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