Last week, before the break was that kind of week.
And then "It" happened. I'm walking down the hallway and I hear music. It's not coming from the music room. It's coming from the first grade hallway. As I get closer I recognize the song. It's Jingle Bells and it's not just one voice. It's about 85. As I walk down to see what's going on I see smiles and and hear laughter. I see joy! I join in with my "family" and we sing for about 15 minutes. It's only a few songs. Peter Dowd, who is a classroom assistant, brought his guitar in and just starting playing and singing in the hallway... and they came. All of the classes emptied out from what they were doing to join him. It was amazing. It was uplifting. It was joyful. It was awesome. What do you think the kids told their parents when they were asked, "What did you do at school today?"
This is what all of the hard work is for. This is what Dave Burgess talks about when he discusses creating experiences instead of just teaching lessons in his book, Teach Like A Pirate. We know that the last few days before winter break can be challenging. Why not do something different? Many of the teachers re-framed their lessons so that they became experiences. They made sure that learning was fun. They made sure that the students were excited. If the kids didn't have to be there, would they be? You bet they would. No one wanted to miss it. Plus... the impromptu experiences like the hallway sing-a-long will be talked about forever.
The best part about all of this is that everyone knows that it's okay to go off script in order to create those experiences. Mr. Dowd didn't ask permission to break out his guitar and play. It was spontaneous joy! He started playing and the classrooms emptied out. The kids, staff and parents joined him and it was awesome. Slackwood School staff know that I'm good with this. They expect that I'll join in on the fun. Usually, I'm the one starting it. I (sometimes) interrupt lessons by doing something crazy or silly in order to get a laugh or a smile. They know why I do it. Sometimes they get a little frustrated because I arrive just after they get the kids settled and I get them all wound up again, but that's also why they know that they can go off script and doing something, just to make school amazing. Like Shelley Burgess and Beth Houf say in Lead Like A Pirate, "Culture First, Culture Next, Culture Always! This is what I want the culture of our school to be! Joy!
PS. Mr. Dowd is now the coolest teacher in our school. He took his guitar upstairs and and sang with the 2/3 graders and later brought it out for bus duty... Putting a smile on my face.