For those that know me, it’s not a big surprise that I’m not a big fan of Halloween. In fact, the last time I taught Kindergarten, I used to plan a field trip to the pumpkin patch on Halloween Day to avoid the craziness of having a party. Some might argue that I’m a Halloween Humbug (or maybe just a Grinch, with no chance of having her Halloween heart grow). 🙂 I get it! Last night though, I engaged in a marvellous Twitter chat with fellow educators Christie, Laurel, Laurie, and Beth. Our conversation stemmed from a tweet that Kristi Keery-Bishop sent out after school that made all of us reflect.
This morning, Kristi sent me this tweet that I think summed everything up.
Last night’s discussion and Kristi’s tweet makes me wonder, what are we doing about those people that are intent on “just surviving the day?” (These people can be both children and adults.)
On a special celebration day, it’s interesting to have a look at who’s in the office. Usually our neediest students are having a difficult day. The routine is different. Some students enjoy the more relaxed environment, but others find it stressful. How do we help them self-regulate? It’s not that I think that we should cancel all of these special days, as there’s also value in learning how to deal with challenges and unstructured times. But not all students know how to do this on their own … then what?
- Maybe they need a choice of activities to do.
- Maybe they need a quiet area where they can re-group.
- Maybe they need some additional outside time. (I noticed that going outside and engaging in gross motor activities helped many of my students self-regulate yesterday.)
- Maybe they need some independent activity options.
- Maybe they need some partner or small group learning options to help if full-class activities become too overwhelming.
- Maybe they just need us to understand that it is a difficult day, and if they respond as such, a quiet talk and some time to begin again may be what they need most.
Just like with children, while some adults love Halloween, others dread the holiday. Yes, we’re older and we should be able to self-regulate better than children, but when we’re stressed, that can be hard. Even when attempting to remain calm, we might find that we are less patient … and this can be a problem on a day when students need our patience even more. I found this to be true for me yesterday. Maybe the best solution for dealing with this came to me thanks to one of my students. In the afternoon, I was in the middle of dealing with some problems in the classroom, and one of the children came up to me with a playdough cupcake. She asked me if I wanted one. I replied with, “I hope that it’s a self-regulation cupcake. I think that my monsters are coming out.” That’s when she put down her tray of cupcakes, went behind me, put her hands on my stomach and said, “Breathe.” I did. Then she said, “Breathe again.” I did … again. This student finished by saying, “Now doesn’t that feel better, Miss Dunsiger?” She was right … it did. This five-year-old also taught me that on these more challenging days, taking the time to breathe, can help us calm down enough to be there for the students that need us most.
While Halloween is almost over now, more holidays are approaching soon. Last night’s discussion and today’s reflections made me question, how are we supporting students for success? If students aren’t as interested in the holiday, what impact should this have on our classroom practices (including “parties”)? I’ve heard many times recently that, “we’ve done it this way before” is not a good enough reason for why we continue to do things at school. Does this same reasoning hold true for holidays? Why? I’d love to hear your thoughts!