By Tom Stoner, Cohort 7 Mentor, Principal at Kouts Middle/High School
As of today, we have been in school four and a half weeks! We started our year out in person and have been able to have the kids and staff in the building every day so far. So, today we celebrated that. Teri, the elementary principal, my assistant Chelsea, and I took a cart full of cupcakes to every classroom to give the teacher a cupcake. Today we were celebrating the teachers and the work they are doing. I should also mention we had my Chromebook pumping music through my Bluetooth speaker, making it a mobile dance party (that was not a pretty sight on my end).
After we were done and I was sitting in my office recuperating from all the dancing I started thinking about different celebrations we can and should be having. Being in school for four and a half weeks in a normal school year does not sound like much of an accomplishment; however, it is a great milestone in these times. We need to take the time to celebrate. If we do not, we will drug down into the covid rabbit hole, and I do not want to go there. It is important for me to celebrate the milestones with the teachers. However, we also need to celebrate with the kids. How do we do that without breaking the bank?
Maybe an ice cream party at lunchtime to celebrate birthdays that month, and everyone that has a birthday gets an ice cream sandwich after their lunch is over. Our middle school finished their NWEA testing a couple of weeks ago; maybe we should have had a celebration then. It does not have to be a whole school celebration either. Teachers can do celebrations in class. Here are a few thoughts:
Everyone does well on a test, so no homework for the weekend.
Everyone is present in class one day, a little free time at the end of the class.
Everyone is well behaved for the day, an extra recess at the end of the day
Everyone wears their mask over their nose for class, a little bit longer mask break
The list is endless. We need to look at the little things the kids do and celebrate them. Maybe a student finally passes a test in your class. It has been a real struggle to get them to that point. The celebration can be a phone call home that evening to tell mom and/or dad about it. Tell them how proud you are of their students. Celebrate that accomplishment with the family.
Maybe a student that struggles behaviorally figures it out for a day. Let them know how proud you are of them. Make a big deal of it. Call home and let the parents know. For that student, that is a big deal. Sometimes they actually cannot control that behavior.
There are so many other things to celebrate in the school day, week, grading period, semester, year; we just need to keep our eyes open for them. It does not have to be a big celebration like a mobile dance party delivering cupcakes to the teacher, but it could be.
I would love to hear about your celebrations with staff and/or students. Please leave me a comment and let me know what and how you celebrate.