Is this a school case of the “wrapping” being more enticing than the “present?”: Reflecting On Year-End Celebrations

I’ve been doing a lot of thinking these last couple of days about “celebrations.” What matters the most to us — as educators or as caregiversand what matters the most to kids? Are they always the same? This year, we decided to do a few different things to celebrate with our students: from a Stuffy Dress Rehearsal to a “shared meal” goodbye.

It was interesting to see how students responded to these celebrations. On Wednesday, I sent out this tweet.

Maybe we spent more time planning for the Stuffy Dress Rehearsal …

  • with menus,
  • with lists,
  • with invitations,
  • with schedules,
  • and with decorations.

Maybe celebrating along with favourite toys made this year-end party more enjoyable. Maybe it was something else altogether.

I’ve been wondering a lot though … Then, during our final meeting time on Thursday, a child asked if we could have a LEGO playdate the next day. My teaching partner, Paula, and I suggested that he create an invitation for one that we could share with parents. This is what he made and what we shared.

Then yesterday, during our final celebration time, one of our kids unmuted to remind me to “call [him] into the LEGO playdate” because he “didn’t want to miss it.” This really resonated with me. On the last day of synchronous learning, during the very last meeting time, this child really wanted to be there to play with his friends. I reminded him to have Teams open, and as promised, I called him in when the meeting time began.

For most of the LEGO playdate yesterday, Paula and I just sat there and watched as children played with their siblings and with each other. There was a hum of noise with the microphones on, and before we signed off, this student built cities with his “BFF” (he loves this term). There was actually playing, collaborating, and socializing online, and in some ways, this unstructured playdate, initiated by an SK student, might have been the greatest celebration of them all.

I know that celebrations and graduations are about more than just the child. This year, families were involved in the learning as never before, and taking this time to acknowledge and thank them has tremendous value. Watching and reflecting on this playdate though made me think about what might matter most to kids. Is it always what we think? Do we always attempt to find out? I wonder if there are ways to balance what adults want with what students want, and even ways to balance the bigger celebrations that some children might want with the smaller celebrations that others might want. It’s like yesterday when we reflected on the favourite memories of this past school year. While some children highlighted the special days — like the food art one — others remembered lunchtime the most. πŸ™‚

I can’t help but think about the stories of the child who gets a really expensive present, but is most interested in the box. When it comes to celebrations, is it sometimes the smaller moments that mean the most? No matter what you did or how you celebrated, I hope that all students, caregivers, and families got to enjoy a little something special to commemorate a very unique school year. Here’s to a happy final few days of school and a big thanks for all of the terrific memories!


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