a blackboard bandit

That’s me! That’s my new secret identity. (maybe I shouldn’t be sharing this info with you, but I am just so excited about the idea of a new super, secret identity) Although I really should have put more thought into my undercover action hero name, because my mission doesn’t involve a blackboard (they don’t really use blackboards anymore – so no more chalk dust) and I am not taking or stealing anything, so I am not a bandit. (the alliteration was just too good to pass up) In reality, it involves a whiteboard and a dry erase marker. And rather than taking something away, I leave something behind when I leave.

So, my mission has just began, and already I need a new name. I’m considering “whiteboard whisperer” or “secret scribbler” but maybe first I should explain what my super secret mission is all about. I am a substitute teacher in a large inner city high school. Consequently, I am in a different classroom every day and sometimes multiple classrooms on the same day. I am not “the real teacher”, just a poor substitute for the real thing. (see posts – “the substitute” and “the real thing”) There are a lot of vacancies currently in this school, positions that desperately need to be filled. So the students’ work is posted online and they use their computers to do their classwork. The whiteboards in these classrooms are usually empty, because no instructions or information are written on them since it is all posted online.

Enter, me, or rather my super secret hero alter ego – the illogically named, Blackboard Bandit. I write an uplifting, inspirational quote or message on the otherwise empty whiteboard in the hope that whoever might notice it and read it will be encouraged or comforted or inspired or experience something positive in the moment. Maybe the words I secretly scribble on the classroom whiteboard will be just what a particular student needs to help them deal with whatever the day will bring their way. That is my hope. That is my new purpose.

Words have the power to build up or to tear down, to provide wise counsel or foolish advice. Well placed words can be food for thought to help young minds stretch and grow. The best words are those from God’s living, eternal word. In Isaiah I read this about God’s word –

“so is My word that goes out from My mouth: It will not return to Me empty, but will accomplish what I desire and achieve the purpose for which I sent it.” (Isaiah 55:11)

Proverbs tells me this about the power of words in our lives –

“Pleasant words are a honeycomb, sweet to the soul and healing to the bones.” (Proverbs 16:24)

As I listen to the students’ conversations in the classrooms, it is apparent to me that they are dealing with many things at this time in their lives. They are trying to figure out who they are and where they fit in this world. They are searching for their purpose and their place. I see them discouraged and depressed and what they listen to and what they watch leads to more fear and anxiety in their lives, not less. They are not wise consumers of social media. (they could benefit from my previous post -“a penny for your thoughts” – about the power of our thoughts over our lives)

And that’s where words come into the picture. Our words are what we use to communicate our thoughts both to others and to ourselves. So maybe some well placed words on a whiteboard in a random classroom can make a small difference for the better in some student’s life. It is worth taking a chance and a moment to write some positive, encouraging, uplifting and true words on the board in hopes that someone will be impacted for the better by the power of the words.

I, as the “blackboard bandit” of my school building, working anonymously so as not to reveal my super secret identity or alternate aliases as the “secret scribbler” or the “whiteboard whisperer”, may never know how many, if any, students read and receive my messages of encouragement and truth left behind for them to discover on the whiteboards in their classrooms. But this is something positive that is within my power to do, costing me no more than a dry erase marker. So I will seize the opportunity to leave behind a positive message wherever I go, hoping it will brighten someone’s day and give them something worthwhile to think about as an alternative to the negative messages from social media which surround us twenty-four/seven.

“I shall pass through this world but once. Any good therefore that I can do or any kindness that I can show to any human being, let me do it now. Let me not defer nor neglect it, for I shall not pass this way again.” (Henry Drummond)

sincerely, Grace Day – aka “the blackboard bandit”

One thought on “a blackboard bandit

  1. I love it! And what a great way to silently speak hope and encouragement into their lives. After I broke my back in 2011, I had a big white dry erase board in my cubicle at work. And I wrote this quote that I love..be kinder than is necessary, for everyone you meet is fighting a battle. I think I’ve heard you refer to it in your blogs or in teaching our bible study groups as well, and it is sooo true! Another job I had, a girl would write a quote on her board everyday. One of them that she wrote stuck with me because it was so powerful. What if you woke up tomorrow with only the things you gave thanks for today? Pretty thought provoking!! You go and pray and write those messages to our dear young purple who are truly fighting a tough battle every day.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s