When I hired in last year, I was delighted to find that two walls in my classroom were covered with big chalkboards like the ones I had in my very first classroom. I was less delighted to learn that we didn’t have any of those big chamois erasers like I remembered using 20 years ago, and the teacher-supply stores in Amarillo and Albuquerque didn’t carry them, either.
Enter my husband, who came in one day with some leftover pipe insulation — the kind that’s about as big around as a Coke can, with a split seam along one side — and asked whether I thought it would be good for anything.
I certainly did. I cut a section about a foot long, wrapped a soft car-wash rag around it, and tucked the ends into the seam. Voila! Instant chamois knockoff.
I made a pair of them and took them to school, along with some spare rags. They work really well on my chalkboards, and they’re easy to maintain: When a rag gets too dusty to use, I just swap it out for a clean one and throw the dirty one in the laundry.
This fall, we got new Promethean boards, which are basically ginormous iPads the size of a big-screen TV. My faux-chamois erasers remove fingerprints from the touchscreen on my Promethean board as effectively as they remove chalk residue from a blackboard. In fact, they’ve come in so handy that I wound up making one for each of my colleagues for Christmas. I hope they find them as useful as I have.