If you have an Instagram account, Twitter account, or Facebook, you’ve seen it. THE lightbox. The “must-have” teacher accessory of the back-to-school season. If you’re anything like me, you might have been intrigued the first 36 times you saw it. You might have even scoped it out on an unrelated run to Michael’s or Jo-Ann’s. If you are me, you likely messaged with your teacher BFFs hoping they too would have the little voice in the back of their head saying – what in the world?!
Which leads me to…
#1. It is just one. more. thing. to manage.
I don’t know about you, but on more than one occasion my classroom calendar has been two months behind. Once it said December after Spring Break. If I’m being completely honest, there are times when my pile of papers to grade is taller than my three year-old. I would be the teacher that has “Welcome Back!” on my lightbox in February. Or I’d have the vocabulary words from three units ago displayed in lights during my formal observation. I know myself. This would be one more thing on an ever-growing list of things that I’d have to keep track of and well, I wouldn’t.
#2. It is just one. more. potential distraction.
Full-disclosure: my rising second-grader has autism. He is highly distractable. He is the kid that will ask you about the Cold War (no, really) in the middle of your read-aloud about Thanksgiving. He is the kid that will stare – incessantly – at your lightbox while you’re trying to direct his attention to everywhere (anywhere, please for the love of Ticonderoga, anywhere) else. Lightbox-related job? He’s all over it. In fact, he’ll probably obsess over it. My point is this: there are likely to be some kids – maybe even many – for whom the lightbox will be a complete distraction. Negative-value added. My kiddo is one of them. And I can think of several past kiddos in my own classroom for whom it would also be true. Which leads me to my third and final point…
#3. What does it have to do with student achievement, really?
Now I know you might be thinking – geez, Sarah, could you be anymore of a killjoy? Yeah, I probably could be. And I totally acknowledge that the above question sounds like I could write the “active monitoring” manual for any number of state tests. More and more, though, this is a question I’ve been asking myself when I’ve been making decisions about my classroom. Student achievement is absolutely not the only thing I care about – I care an awful lot about my kiddos as tiny people, too (I mean, I spend my free time making things to that effect). But the most important job I have is to make sure each of my kiddos can experience success. I’m just not sure how a lightbox does that, especially when I consider points #1 and #2 above. There are other ways for me to display quotes, vocabulary, or emojis. For me, the time I spend making accessories for or updating the lightbox could be better spent elsewhere… and the risk of distracting my most vulnerable students is too high of a cost to bear in my classroom.
My bottom line is…
None of this is to say YOU shouldn’t buy one. I’m all about the #doYOU spirit. But for my fellow fence-sitters out there – my friends that scroll past trends like this on Instagram and have not-a-cool teacher guilt (it’s a thing, people!) – you’re not alone. Whatever your reason for not buying a lightbox (or single-handedly clearing out the Dollar Spot), it’s okay. I’m with you.
I LOVE this! It’s so hard not to get caught up in all the trends seen on social media. Sometimes I just sit back and shake my head. I also agree with how many of the new trends are a huge distraction to students.
Hilary Gard says
I feel the same way. I have been seeing them all over the place and I just keep thinking to myself “Why” If it makes other people happy that is awesome! I just don’t see any benefit for myself. Great post!
I love this and couldn’t agree more! I don’t need to spend my money on one more thing. I have enough to do without worrying about changing a light that I will look at more than the kids. ????
You totally hit the nail on the head! I agree with all 3 reasons, but #1 is so me! And #4 to be added – storage! I have a small space and nowhere for it. I am lucky to fit a much used chart stand in my room. Thank you for being the voice of reason for many of us!
Reason #4 – the cost of the lightbox, and then the subsequent letters, pictures, etc. I already spend enough of my own money on supplies and decorations for my classroom. Thank you for this; I have been on the fence about the lightbox, too!
Two thumbs up! I don’t like jumping on the bandwagon either.
Thank you!! I am often a victim of “not a cool teacher” guilt, and this makes me realize I’m not alone.
I feel exactly the same way!!
Carrie Gregg says
This and that teacher planner are on my “I don’t need this, do not buy it” list. Simplify is my key word this year.
You hit the nail on the head with this one! I totally feel the same way. It’s so easy to get caught up in the hype of cuteness, but get real- that thing is totally unnecessary! Thanks for saying what I was thinking. 🙂
Love this! Totally agree! I think they are adorable, but for me it would be a waste of energy and money!
Thank you for making me feel better about my decision not to purchase one. I need to focus on what is going to make the biggest impact on student learning.
Heather Langley says
As I was reading I tried to reach for the “like” button several times. I’m with you on the “not the cool teacher” guilt. I think social media feeds that guilt. I just wrote a post about saying no to the peer pressure of summer spending. The struggle is real! I have a reason #4 for you ….my district doesn’t allow us to plug in lamps so a light box would be a waste of time in my classroom.
Yeah, ever since I saw these pop up I wasn’t sure why I needed one! I kept thinking I was missing something, but it appears it really is just a thing that makes words/signs light up. I love the social media teaching community, but sometimes I have to be careful not to buy into the hype. Thanks for your post!
The Designer Teacher
Nicky Spurlock says
ALL number 1 for me. The light box is an adorable idea, but it’s hard enough to remember to write the day’s date on the board. (Did I just admit that?) Cute post, Sarah. Thanks for sharing.