The Marble Jar

jarI saw it…in a classroom on the first day of student attendance.  The empty wide mouth glass container with the label “Marble Jar” scotch-taped to the side.  And it reminded me of the “Incentive” slide in our SMARTBoard: “What’s It Good For Anyway?”  presentation.  We try to incorporate the use of the SMARTBoard into every imaginable facet of the teaching day, including the use of the marble jar.  Or in this case to replace the use of the marble jar.  But before I go any further, I must step back in time a bit.  You see, we recently did a full day SMARTBoard training in a southern IL Catholic school.  Mom had been looking forward to this training all last spring. (They booked us early).  She taught for quite a few years in a small Catholic school and refers to her time there as “The Golden Years”.  The strong parent-support, the church community and various self-contained groups of 8th graders all contributed to wonderful teaching experiences.  So having this opportunity to go back to her roots (so to speak) for a day of SMARTBoard training was right up her alley.  As we pulled into the black iron-gated and perfectly manicured grounds of the school, I couldn’t help but to be impressed.  And it only got better.  The school was old..and I mean O-L-D.  I am not sure what year it was built, but it reminded me a lot of the 4th grade school that I attended in the City of Shelbyville, Illinois.  The 4th grade school that was razed 15 years ago because it was not fit to house children.  Not this school.  As we walked down the hallways of this building to find the room in which to set up our equipment, the only word I could use to describe this old building was pristine.  The floors were prefectly buffed, the walls freshly painted, the woodwork unscathed.  I loved the fact that this old building was getting a technology upgrade.  Two worlds collide.  The VERY old, with the VERY new.  After we got ourselves set up and the teachers were catching up after being apart for two months, Sister came in and led us in a short prayer service.  At least that is what Mom told me it was.  As far as I was concerned, it was a short mass.  After all, it had prayer, singing, candle lighting…the works.  My first thought…can you light a candle in a classroom…or in this case a handful of candles?  My second thought… Sister can do anything she wants.  Period.  Since I have absolutely NO private school background, I learned a lot that day.  Prayer can be held in the classroom, candles can be lit, students WILL obey their teachers since the class limit is 30 (with a waiting list).

Back to my Marble Jar story…

As I was showing our idea for using the SMARTBoard as a classroom incentive tool, Mom said she was thinking about a picture she had of a Catholic School 2nd Grade class.

St. Pat's

Notice the class size…with ONE nun in charge.  I’ll bet she didn’t have a marble jar to keep these kids in line.  And I KNOW she didn’t have a SMARTBoard. Now THAT is what I call awesome classroom management!

It is often assumed that this kind of classroom management includes the use of rulers and some sort of corporal punishment. Not always.

More than half of my education involved schools that were not local public schools. As an “army brat”, I attended 14 schools in twelve years, many of them parochial schools. I was never hit or spanked, and never saw it happen to anyone else. We were just good. Why? Because if we weren’t, we received the afore-mentioned things at home. We were taught to respect our teachers, whether they were sisters, brothers, priests, or anyone else who decided to take on the task of teaching us. The best reward was a “Good Job!” or a gold sticker star on our paper, and even, yes even, a hug.

Candles lit in the classroom? Prayers before class? Singing of hymns? Did Shannon mention carrying our equipment up and down stairs without any elevators? Nothing but the help of someone else to carry them? They have nobody to answer to for government funding. No ISAT’s. No NCLB.

Just God.

reflections SMARTBoard workshops


  1. Gina Fox says:

    Wow! This brought back some great memories! We were good and if we got that gold star – all the better! Hope you both have a great school year!

  2. Jessie Buehnerkemper says:

    Thank you for speaking so highly of our school. We LOVED your presentation. Hope to learn more from you again!!

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