Jim's journalism friend Nick recently came to visit me at school in order to write an article about me as part of a homework assignment. This is the article he wrote.
When fourth graders at a School in Brooklyn walk into Listmaker’s classroom, the first thing most of them will do is read the messages on a large flip chart and write a response.
When anyone else walks into the classroom, the first thing most of them will do is read the messages on the flip chart and laugh because they can’t tell the difference between Listmaker’s handwriting and his students’. He laughs about it himself.
Listmaker wrote in his stunted script Monday morning, “What are your thoughts on our morning meetings? Do you like them? Dislike them? Share your opinion here.” The students’ comments ranged from “It’s OK” to “They’re not awesome but they’re greatish.”
There’s a lot of laughter in Listmaker's classroom, and that’s how everyone seems to like it. “If a kid is happy with their teacher, then the parents are happy,” said Listmaker.
The typical pictures on the wall say a lot about the 35-year-old Brooklyn resident and the third and fourth graders he has taught for the past eight years. In each photo, Listmaker stands to the side of the class, his hair a little more salt than pepper with each passing year. The smiling students in the pictures seem a lot like the students sitting in this atypical classroom on a Monday morning, children who seem way too happy to be in school.
“I think the whole fourth grade class wanted him,” said Shaggy Hair, 9, one of Listmaker’s students. “He kind of has a reputation of being silly and fun.”
The day started pretty typically with a game of “Rock, Paper, Scissors” between two representatives to determine which half of the class would go to science first and which half would stay with Mr. Listmaker for social studies. The winner chose to stay and the loser had to lead her group to the science room.
The remaining students settled down in the classroom with all the standard trimmings: plastic chairs at metal desks, a banner showing examples of capital and lowercase cursive letters, and a deluxe SMART Board™ interactive, projection/touch screen setup that puts most college classrooms to shame.
Listmaker laid out the day’s assignment. Pick from an event in American history, write a few sentences about it, and select an image to put up wrap-around timeline from 1492 to 2008. However, there were no crayons, Fiskars safety scissors or glue sticks out for this project. Instead, the students nonchalantly retrieved MacBook laptop computers to complete the task.
The day’s lesson came with an integrated technology seminar as Listmaker taught the class how to harvest Google images and put them into a Microsoft Word document. “What section should we look under?,” asked Listmaker. “News? Maps? Definitely shopping, right? You want to buy some Lewis and Clark wallpaper?”
The students didn’t get far in their projects before technophobic poltergeists attacked all things digital in the room. Between failing wireless internet signals, photo-resistant Word documents, and unresponsive computers, Listmaker spent most of the lesson trying to troubleshoot the failing technology and the increasingly restless children.
“My computer is crazy,” said a long-haired boy named Boy Who Likes Snowboarding. The technological problems worsened when the other half of the class came back and the American history projects were abandoned for the math lesson. Though Listmaker likes the school, he is frustrated by the lack of time for the basics in a curriculum that favors “specials” like dance, music and drama. “Later today they’re going swimming for an hour,” said Listmaker.
He has toyed with the idea of leaving the School to teach in the city’s public school system, which pays better than the private school, but could never bring himself to leave. However, with his wife SHR five months pregnant with twin boys, the decision might soon be made for him.
“The boys will probably bring the situation to a head,” said Listmaker. “The money and benefits would be nice.” He added that he would also like to have a different mix of kids in the classroom.
The current students have nothing to worry about because Listmaker will be there through the end of the year at least, but their younger brothers and sisters might miss out on the popular teacher with a penchant for Skittles and the Mets. “He uses them in examples all the time,” said Ideal Student, 10. “It’s always ‘if I have 100 skittles…’ or ‘if the Mets win 5 games…’ or something.” She added, “He acts like a kid. He has fun.”
With the chaos of the technology debacle behind him, Listmaker used the time after school to regroup and plan for a better next day. Leaving the novelty Skittles fan a student gave him earlier in the day on his desk, Listmaker started on a new page in the flip chart and went home to his wife and unborn boys who will soon start a new page in his life.
19 hours ago