Friday, September 19, 2008


Here is a crazy and successful thing that I do every year. As a teacher, I have a habit of trying new things that somehow seem to work. My former next colleague used to say that I am very successful at flying by the seat of my pants. She would say, "It works for you." The event I am going to describe has become a time honored tradition in my classroom. It is one of the things that the kids who come back to visit always talk about.

About ten years ago, I was frustrated by the yearly Homecoming rituals. I would lose an entire week of chorus rehearsals because I couldn't possibly expect the students to work on Homecoming week!

So, one day, I had the crazy idea to have a contest. I gave the kids some time on Monday of Homecoming week to plan a skit to be performed on Friday, the morning of the big game. I divided the students up by their chorus sections: bass, tenor, alto, soprano. When Friday of that first week rolled around, I noticed that something was different...very different. The second the "Chariots of Fire" music came out of the speakers of the stereo, I knew that things were going to change.

The Tenors, had created a slow motion football game, with the Chariots Theme in the background. It was an amazing 'skit' and was so wildly popular that the students were asked to perform it at the afternoon pep rally.

Two amazing things came out of this experience. I now give away thirty minutes of Homecoming week instead of 200. The groups have an amazing bonding experience and build unity.

The lesson I learned from this is that sometimes, as teachers, we must honor the rituals of school. I believe the reason this works for me is that I allow kids the time to revel in the fun of the high school experience.

What do you do to honor the rituals of school?


Kobus van Wyk said...

I can't answer your question about rituals, since I am not in a classroom. But I can comment on the innovative way in which you approach matters. Some may say you are crazy (you may even suspect it yourself at times!) - but the proof of the pudding is in the eating - what is the effect on learners? Does it promote learning? Are skills developed and honed? Your of-beat methods seem to be hitting the right spot.

Patti Harju said...

Great way to take advantage of an otherwise disruptive week. I will remember this when our spirit week rolls around in Feb. We are elementary, so no homecoming, but we have a Big week in Feb and it seems to be very non academic. Great ideas on using that energy for good learning. I am sure the kids remember the skits with you even more than the other hoopla.