Where do the parties end?

I happened to catch a conversation on Twitter today that made me think. This conversation began with two tweets from Miss Night: a wonderful educator from Calgary.

Please read from the bottom, up.

Please read from the bottom, up.

If there was a “like” button on Twitter, I would have liked both of these tweets. Sometimes in the classroom, celebrations and special days seem to be constant.

I’ll never forget when I was a Kindergarten teacher, and we were always stopping to celebrate a new holiday: from Groundhog’s Day to Halloween to Pancake Tuesday to Valentine’s Day to Easter, and the list kept going on. While reading the tweets today about holiday celebrations at school, I couldn’t help but think about these questions.

  • Why and how are we recognizing these holidays?
  • Are we building knowledge about these holidays — based on student interests — or are we using these celebrations as reasons to watch a movie and have treats? What are the benefits and drawbacks to our approaches?
  • How are we using these celebrations to increase student achievement and meet curriculum expectations?
  • How does “stopping” for these holidays impact on our other classroom inquiries? What, if any, long-term impact does “halting” our regular program have?
  • What impact do these changes in routine have on our students? How are we preparing our students to be successful during these unstructured times?
  • What holidays are we choosing to celebrate? Are we recognizing the holidays celebrated by our diverse student populations?
  • Linking to our new Social Studies Curriculum Document, are we ensuring that students hear the first person perspectives of the many people that celebrate these various holidays? How are we giving everyone a “voice?”

How would you answer these questions? What are your thoughts on “holiday parties?” Which ones do you choose to celebrate and which ones do you choose not to? Why? Sometimes I wonder if we simply celebrate because “we always have,” and should we be re-looking at what we’re doing and why we’re doing it? I’d love to hear your thoughts!

Your Sincerely,

Aviva: The Self-Proclaimed Holiday Grinch 🙂

6 thoughts on “Where do the parties end?

  1. I don’t have specific answers to your questions but I love that you have asked them. Stopping to ask WHY is key to learning. The fact that you’re even asking these questions means there probably IS a need to rethink the frequency and content of the celebrations. Your questions hopefully plant a seed of wonder in the minds of reflective teachers everywhere. Sometimes that’s all it takes to get the ball of meaningful change rolling.

    • Thanks Simone! As I said on Twitter last night, I’m not sure if it’s as much about the answers to the questions as the questions themselves. It’s always good for us to ask the “why,” as that’s how the conversations get started (and the changes begin to happen). I’m very interested to hear the varying views on “celebrations.”


  2. I love that teachers are beginning to self reflect on these antiquated practices that take so much away from the actual learning time in the classroom. I often feel like a Grinch because teachers or parents want to have a party or celebration in the classroom and the first question I ask is, “what subject are you not going to teach?”

    The one compromise I have made is that if a teacher or a parent wants to have a celebration, I will often say that they can host it at recess or during lunch. These are times that are built for relaxing, resetting the brain, and genuinely enjoying non-academic pursuits. I have found that this not only allows the students to enjoy one another’s company, but it also helps the teachers and students/parents keep within an acceptable timeframe. When the lunch bell rings, the celebration is over and its time to get back to learning.

    Thank you for asking your insightful questions. I hope I have contributed in some way to help others find a solution to old practices that die hard.

    • Thanks for the comment, John! I love your compromise about having the celebration during lunch. What a great way to let the partying happen, but not impact on the academic time.

      I think that it’s so important to ask these kinds of questions, because if not, it’s easy to go along with “what was always done,” and should this still be the case?


  3. I totally agree and just said the same thing today after celebrating Dr. Seuss on Friday and St. Patrick’s day yesterday plus a K schedule which leaves very little time for instruction due to special class pull outs!

    • Thanks for the comment, Grace! It’s funny how when we experience situations like the one you described, we really start to re-examine the need for parties. What did your colleagues say? I think that this could lead to a great discussion!


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