Advent: The coming or arrival, especially of something extremely important. (The Free Dictionary)
It’s in the air. The chill of the pre-Christmas season. It has a smell, a sound, a taste, a feel, a thought. Senses evoke delicious memories leading to joyous anticipation. Others awaken sorrow, regret, or angst.
We can’t ignore the impact this season has on our students and staff. We are typically finishing up the arduous report card cycle of, gathering, collecting, conferencing, writing, editing, reading, signing, all which take a toll on our work/home/life balance. Not yet finished with report cards we merge into another holiday season. Students are filled with wonderment of what Santa will bring, or not bring. Anxiety levels are certain to be elevated. It’s a messy time of year. The paradox: A time of year set aside for love, joy, peace, and hope, often brings fear, anger, short-tempers, and resentment.
Advent ~ anticipating the arrival of something worth celebrating. (my words).
For many this is the worst month of the year. We put on a happy face, jostle the crowds, spend, bake, plan, decorate, often covering up an underlying resentment that could rival Ebenezer Scrooge. Add to that a need to monitor the just right levels of ‘fun mixed with learning’ in classes of 22 – 30. Chaos at its best.
So what’s the answer?
How can we honour Advent at school? How can we celebrate the arrival of something important?
Ideas that have and continue to work for me:
- Set aside the tough stuff. It’s perhaps not the best time of year to be tackling difficult concepts. Learning can happen encapsulated by wonderment.
- Read to your class. Currently I’m reading ‘The Christmas Village’ by Melissa Goodwin. Students are spellbound.
- Shopping Sprees: Give your students different amounts of money (fictional of course) and a scenario for spending it. Let them shop online. Make it as simple or complex as your grade level allows. Students can present their results with or without technology. Be sure to include giving a % to charity in a least some of the cases.
- December in Other Lands: the classic group work project. Choose a country. In groups report or demonstrate the December traditions of that country. Include food, art, music, and anything else that grabs your students. I used to cap off this project with an around the world feast on the last afternoon before Christmas break.
These are only a few, the point being, do something new. There are ideas in abundance at your fingertips. Unleash the kids. Let them get messy, but on your terms. Be messy with them. Share what you’re doing with your colleagues. Invite parents in to participate.
Advent – I’m anticipating something good.