Nearly five years ago, I was in a meeting where my phone was blowing up with messages. I ignored them until the meeting ended. Then, I received the shock of my life. You see, the first text message was a photo of a positive pregnancy test. We were too old for that kind of a surprise!
Recently, we celebrated that bundle of joy’s fourth birthday. As we followed through with our established, family traditions, that pushed my thoughts about the lack of celebrations for our adult birthdays. We consider birthdays “just another day.” How often are we guilty of saying something similar in our schools – it’s “just another day.”
In your classrooms and your schools, make sure to create celebrations at regular milestones and in each grade level – yes, even for high school! These simple traditions transform school from “just another day” into a “day of expectation.” Sample ideas could include the typical 100th day of school and annual Pi Day or more academically focused topics such as college acceptance “signing day” or scholarship totals for the graduating class.
Regardless of the celebration, here are ten tips on how to create a celebratory tradition:
- Identify the purpose you want to achieve
- Determine the audience – the whole school or just a grade level?
- Involve students in the planning process
- Decide the most relevant way to make it memorable
- Assign a team leader to oversee implementation
- Lock it in on the school’s calendar
- Build momentum with “teasers” via emails, texts, flyers or social media
- Invite special guests (e.g., district officials, press, local leaders, etc.)
- Follow-up with a school community “press release” – this step is especially important if the celebration was limited in focus
- Debrief and use those results for next year’s planning.
Have fun creating these traditions and remember – the things you celebrate or appreciate, others will replicate.