Clearly, I Will Not Be Silenced


Sometimes there are moments in life where things turn out better than you could have imagined. Throughout the summer, I’ve written rather extensively about a feature of my classroom known as the Lennon Wall.  Modeled after a graffiti-filled wall in Prague, the Lennon Wall stands as a monument to young voices, freedom of expression, and hope.  The actual Lennon Wall has faced its fair share of challenges, which makes it only fitting that my incarnate of the wall has also found itself at odds with the establishment, (see Reconstructing the Lennon Wall).

Much to my dismay, I was asked to dismantle my Lennon Wall in order to make way for new paint. Normally, I would be thrilled for a little interior upgrade, but not two days before the last day of school and an hour after I put up the last piece of student artwork.  I was upset to say the least.

In response, I along with my amazing co-workers engaged in a small act of defiance and optimism by grabbing some markers and signing my empty Lennon Wall.  The painters would be coming to apply a fresh coat of paint in a few weeks, so I decided to ingrain the wall with the spirit of the human voice.  Once that paint rolled over our messages, they would always be there even if invisible.

When I walked into my classroom last week, I dreaded the mess the painters probably made, but most of all I was not looking forward to seeing a very barren and white wall.  My classroom was indeed a mess with furniture upturned and as far as possible from where it belonged, while somehow paint globs ended up on my desk.

However, when I flicked on the lights I saw a miracle.  The painters could not silence me. Underneath the new white paint, was the outline of the mark I made on the wall. And I wasn’t the only one. Several of the messages left behind were also still visible.

When I signed the wall, I wrote, “I will not be silenced,” but I had no idea how powerful that statement was until I saw it peeking through the paint that tried to snuff it out. Just when I thought this wall couldn’t have any more meaning, it has become immensely more powerful.


My original signature on the wall.


Painted over, but still visible. Look closely!

The Lennon Wall has since been restored in all its glory and my students’ artwork is once again speaking with a vibrant voice.  My still visible mark is now part of the collage, so I can tell my new students all about this incredible chapter of our Lennon Wall.

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c.b.w. 2012

Listening to the Wall: Part 2


Listening to the Wall is a series dedicated to showcasing pieces of student art that helped create an incarnate of the Lennon Wall  in my classroom.

This piece includes a number of fantastic quotes, but my eye always goes to the shackled hands releasing a butterfly.  To this day I wonder what “butterfly” was hiding deep inside of the girl who drew this image.

A few years ago, I had the pleasure of teaching a student who thrived on art and drawing.  I have watched him grow into an incredibly talented artist and I’m quite honored to have a few pieces of his early work.  For the Lennon Wall he chose to do something simple, but his ability to create atmosphere explodes across the page.

The bold colors of this piece totally reflect the spirit of the student who created it.  Every day, a little ball of sunshine sat in the front row of my classroom.

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For further information about the Listening to the Wall series, please visit these links:

Reconstructing the Lennon Wall

Listening to the Wall: Part 1

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c.b.w. 2012