Today is the first day of Thanksgiving Break. Lots of extra time to relax and reflect as I look toward the crazy month ahead. Students will be just a little “off” from now till the New Year, and who can blame them. Rather than be a bit frustrated with this phenomenon, this year I’m embracing the celebration. In fact mindfully embedding it. Not just during the holidays, but throughout the year. And I don’t mean I’ll be throwing parties all year.
Inspired by Ruth Ayers’ Celebrating Writers, it seems that a healthy dose of celebration needs to be added to the mix of choice, collaboration and creation in the classroom, and not just in writing. Inherent in celebration is a break, a breather. Breaks are good. We recharge. Things seem possible. The task ahead looks doable. Breaks can propel us into our the next learning cycle.
Celebration needs to be embedded – present every step of the way. Learning is messy and often difficult. In light of the elevated expectations of Common Core, students and teachers could feel like they are going backwards rather than forwards. The more fragile the learner, the more challenging the learning, the more frequent the celebration.
Celebration could start with a complement or reflection on previous learning. Then continue throughout the lesson, conferring and student work time. Masterful teachers instinctively seem to know when to celebrate learning. Perhaps we should mindfully plan celebrations at points in the learning work that we know will be challenging.
Take time to notice and name what is accomplished, take a breath and celebrate. With each celebration comes a embedded boost of encouragement, a reflection on what’s done and the implied belief that the next step is possible.
So here’s my new teaching template that not only names what I teach, but asks me to plan celebrations. A reminder that celebrations need to be embedded, daily to keep the learning going.