My teammate is going to be a dad soon. (Technically, he already is, since he has a 10 year old stepson, but he’s about to be the dad of a newborn!) Since we like to think of our team as a family, the students and I have been planning a surprise party for him.
Each student created a page for a book to give him. They wrote a piece or two of advice on one side, then drew a picture on the back. Once they were finished, a student made a cover for the book and I bound it together. Then, a couple of students wrapped it.
In addition, students created various decorations to be put up the day of the party. They made paper chains, signs and dangly spirals.
The day of the party, I brought cupcakes, a parent supplied punch and the students put up the decorations. It was clear they were excited – I started to think they were going to vibrate right out of their chairs as they waited for the time to decorate.
When the time came, the students put up decorations, and surprised their teacher with the party.
Why spend the instructional time to do something like this? While this isn’t covered in standardized tests, I truly believe this was time well spent. Creating a team/family atmosphere makes all the difference in our students’ learning. When students feel connected, they are more likely to be invested in learning. Some students don’t feel connected to others. Humans need that connection. Being part of a team is important to students. If they don’t feel like part of a team in the classroom, they’ll find a different team to be part of. This is the reason gangs get started.
By celebrating life events this way, students feel connected, and learn how to be part of a group like this.
Plus, what do you remember from school: that great lesson on drawing conclusions your sixth grade teacher did, or a party you held?