A Step Back In Time















The Wax Museum was a fixture of the first six years of my professional career.  I played the role of observer, bystander, an active participant.  Like Junior Great Books and the utilization of the shared inquiry, the Wax Museum was an equal opportunity for all (even the academically disadvantaged) to shine.

The process went like this:

1.  Students chose a very interesting figure from history. 

2.  They did substantial amounts of research. 
3.  They developed or bought a costume.
4.  They memorized a 3-5 minute speech (autobiography in first-person). 
5.  A person placed a coin in the performer’s cup. 
6.  They performed (in character) a bajillion times. 
7.  All proceeds bought new biographies for the school library.

They were beloved.  They were doted upon.  They were the pride of the school.


Then my school was closed down due to budget cuts. The teachers/administration/media specialist who propped up the annual tradition retired.

I was then drafted by the county to teach at a third and fourth-grade school of 650 students.  I taught a year and relished every new opportunity.  I developed “professional amnesia.”  I forgot about past traditions because I was too busy establishing new ones.

I then had an epiphany.  The engagement well appeared to be dry in my second year after the closing of my first school.  Notice I did not disclose “student engagement.”  That was intentional, because I question my own engagement at times, so it will vaguely be disguised as simply engagement for now.  Year eight has been interesting in that two things are/are not happening professionally with me.  Has the self-declared “most interesting man in the world” aged, degraded, and become Cornelius Dinglebocker – the lamest “man-teach” in the world?  Has the attention span of our youth diminished so dramatically that not even the jokes, jumps on the table, or listless philanthropy entice students anymore?  What to do?

Then like a feeling more humbling than the stomach virus hit me.  WAX MUSEUM!  I remember the smiles from many years ago and thought that vintage is in vogue.  That probably made sense to no one.  Inside jokes aside, I have recently concluded a week with the Wax Museum.  It remains to be seen whether it has graduated to “tradition” status.  The true test will be our Title I Technology Night, where my entire team of sixty-eight students will perform throughout the school.

1.  Parents and students love it.
2.  Student-owned, Student-run (I loved seeing them count the coins and making arrays while doing so!)
3.  Morale builder amongst parents/teachers/students/administration

1. Economically disadvantaged students will need help.  Prepare in advance, so that the teacher is not overwhelmed and thus additionally economically disadvantaged.
2.  Students will have to be coached on how to act between performances. (Antsy pants!)
3.  I need to provide more time at school to research.  More research = ownership.

We have raised $74.75 to date (with my $20 penny and nickel investment).  All of the proceeds from this project are going into the development of our school garden.  I don’t think the focus is on making money.  I don’t think the focus of teaching is making money either.

James (BTG)

Real music recommendation:  B. Reith – “Roll with the Punches”.