Birthdays, graduations, weddings, promotions, holidays – these are all reasons people celebrate. But why? Why do people all over the world hold celebrations? Typically celebrations are social and joyful. They are a way to publicly acknowledge or honor someone or something. People need people, and people need joy. It is also healthy for people to be cognizant of, and grateful for the good things around them. But, why do we need to celebrate in schools?
I find that too often schools and educators focus on what is wrong, and what needs to be corrected. Too often we in education forget to celebrate in schools and learn what is good, and what has been done well. When we ignore that, we ignore what gives us the drive to push on through the next challenge that comes our way.
Not long ago, I attended a meeting with one of our district’s area superintendents. She led the attendees through a protocol for evaluating and utilizing data. While her whole presentation was interesting to me, I was really struck that this no-nonsense administrator took time to talk about celebrating. She made sure that all the teachers understood that celebrating the students’ accomplishments was an integral part of this process, and that the principal understood her role was not only to acknowledge the accomplishments of the students, but those of the teachers as well. Amen.
It is all well and good to set goals, and create a plan for realizing them. It is even better to let your students in on the plan. Let them know why you chose those objectives to focus on, and approach in a new way. Once they have had more time with the concept and have been reassessed, it is time to celebrate in schools and learn their progress – any progress. It doesn’t have to be a big party with a band and a buffet. It can simply be high fives, class cheers, or a few minutes of choice time.
The point is to bring your students together and make a public acknowledgement of the hard work, tenacity, and the progress. If you have a grade level team, do this project together and celebrate in schools the progress of each class of students and the grade level as a whole. And if you are an administrator celebrating teacher accomplishments, then go with high fives, staff cheers and a few minutes off early from a staff meeting. It’s less about the way you celebrate the progress, than the fact that you took the time to do it.
I am chairperson on a few committees this year, and I am well aware of the need for us to take a step back from the “business” of hitting those agenda items, to take a look at our original goals to admire what we have accomplished. At a recent meeting we had yummy snacks and took the first half of our meeting to simply enjoy reveling in the amazing things our hard-working committee had done, while enjoying tunes like Kool & the Gang’s Celebration and Madonna’s Holiday – “If we took a holiday, took some time to celebrate in schools, just one day out of life, it would be so nice.” That it was! It fueled us to look at our last trimester, and decide what our next goal should be. All because we took the time to celebrate.
Deirdre is a teaching artist and AI coach in the San Diego public schools dedicated to helping classroom teachers make arts an integral part of their teaching. Deirdre has an MEd in Arts Integration and over twenty years of classroom and performing arts teaching experience. Email Deirdre.