Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Special Events: Are They Worth It?

I need to rethink special events.

I think that special events really make the year special, but planning, preparing for, and managing special events is time consuming work since it involves the following actions:
  • research
  • phone calls
  • filling out numerous forms
  • waiting for approvals
  • collecting and sending in funds/payment
  • rearranging schedules
  • giving up planning periods and breaks
  • and more. 
All of this work mainly takes place after school on your own time.

Yet, special events have the potential to enrich everyone's experience of school.

So what's a teacher to do?

In the best of circumstances, special event planning and preparation will be supported by school communities with efficient systems and reliable support. There will be time to consider the effort it takes and the value of the many possible learning experiences. 

Many children from many homes readily have special learning experiences outside of school, and many do not. These special experiences open the doors for what's possible with learning and make learning better for many reasons.

Today a long prepared special event began with a lot of disruption and frustration for a large number of reasons. The idea would have been to flexibly roll with the disruption thus limiting the stress, but I just couldn't believe that the prep work didn't result in the start planned--I was frustrated.

How can we ensure that this doesn't happen in the future?

First, make the time you need to attend to the event preparation. Today I got delayed by an unexpected visitor, and I should have politely excused myself to look for the scientist and help with the set up. While in the busy school setting we are met with the need to meet, ask questions, and respond constantly, there is little uninterrupted time--that's part of the environment. 

Next, when help is there, be grateful, but don't expect there to be help as in busy school settings, the help you expect is often unavailable due to a large number of reasons. Schools are very busy places.

Finally, it's good to add those special events, but don't add too many as that can take more time than is realistic which may have partly been the situation today. 

It's already that time of year when the schedule and demands at school are busier than ever as this year begins to intersect with next year's planning and lots of upcoming standardized tests which upset all the routines, coverage, and building events. The best teachers remain flexible, positive, and amenable to the perennial change that occurs throughout the school days, weeks, and months. I need to follow their lead.