The flagpole on the school campus has special significance for my students. It is usually one of our first outside destinations because it is often located close to the front door of the school. The flag itself may be something that some blind or low vision students don’t actually have the chance to see or touch, unless an adult takes the time to provide that opportunity. They participate in classroom and school rituals surrounding the flag, but may not have ever had the chance to see it up close, with their eyes or …their hands.
The flagpole too is a bit of a mystery. Why does the flag have to be on a pole? What does it do up there? How does it get up to the top of the pole? These are all questions that are best answered, outside, at the actual flagpole. Poles are most often made of metal and if there is a good breeze, the flapping or waving flag and its metal clip and rope may bang on the pole, making a delightful clanging noise. Remember, travelling blind it can be very helpful to have a sound source to help you locate a desired destination. This particular student and I always “check the weather” when we step outside. Is it breezy? Yup! Do you hear the flag clanging on the pole? Yup! Lets go check it out!
Once at the pole, we bang it with our cane; it makes a lovely dinging noise. We tap it with our hands or my ring; another neat sound. We reach up and find the rope – which feels very cool. “What is that made from?” she asks. Good question – we look it up on my phone. “Its called a Halyard rope, it is made from polyester and its job is to help the flag go up and down the pole,” I share. (I just learned something new too!) She winds her hands around the rope, unwinds it, flaps it around banging it again and against the pole. She feels its stretchiness and strength and we talk about how smooth it is. We explore its ridges and dips by running our hands up as high up as we can reach and then back down again to the cleat (cool new word) and then we rewind it back again. “I like the flag,” she smiles. “I LOVE my job,” I think to myself, as we walk back to front door. “Lets go ask the Principal if you can help put the flag on and up the pole in next week’s lesson.“