Author: Dawn Mitchell
As we embark on the week that is Halloween, I want to share some advice with you about taking time to enjoy your students. If you spend any time on social media and are part of discussions or chat rooms with educators this week, you will find many lamenting the upcoming holiday with tales of woe and dread about having to manage class parties, sugar highs, and students distracted with costume parties and candy rather than the curriculum.
I want to challenge you to consider the rare opportunity we have to spend not only this holiday, but 180 days with our students, and to invest in their lives while they are only 8 or 18. One of my favorite children’s authors, Lester Laminack, inspired all of us in his keynote workshop over a decade ago at the Spartanburg Writing Project housed at USC Upstate to remember that our students only have one year as a seven or eleven or seventeen year old. We forget that many times when we are focused on ourselves or our to do list.
Our students are only young once, and while Halloween week may come with some adjustments to the schedule, it also comes with opportunities to be a part of making memories with our students and of making lasting impressions with them about who they are and what and how they learn.
To support you in this, I want to share with you one of my favorite blogs on this topic from Edutopia called “Keep Them Engaged Through the Holiday Craze”. It provides several strategies to consider. I feel the author, Laura Bradley, nails the importance of honoring what’s important to our students with this quote. “Trying to pretend that a long Thanksgiving break isn’t right around the corner is like trying to pretend that the stores aren’t playing Christmas music before they’ve packed up the pumpkins. Taking the time to join the kids in holiday conversations lets them see that we are human, that we have traditions, that we understand and celebrate the excitement of the season. It also gives us opportunities to recognize the different holidays and different ways of celebrating that our students and their families enjoy. When we honor what matters to our students, they are more likely to honor what matters to us.”
So as you embark on this last week of October, and the first holiday of many that we will experience with our students during this second nine weeks, let’s make the very most of it, and most of all, of our time with them.
South Carolina ASCD President