So this year, the decision was made to schedule a full day teacher institute day on Halloween. The rationale to staff and parents was to the point- 'we do not want to lose additional instructional time.' There would be no student attendance, no parties, no candy, and no make up dates. Halloween has always pretty much been a wasted day since the kids were too excited to focus and then the afternoon was taken up with class parties (at the elementary level). Since we have to have institute days, why not schedule one on a day that's already shot?
As both a teacher and an administrator, I hate Halloween. The kids are indeed nuts that day. Students bring replica weapons to school (no matter how many reminders you give them). The fake blood gets more graphic each year. Girls, of all ages, find ways to turn any costume into the prostitute variety. All the treats are a headache for the person responsible for making sure all food allergies are accounted for (who is ironically never the same person with the food allergy).
But it's not about me! The parties and the treats aren't for the teachers any more than playground equipment is. It's supposed to be about kids!
Are we starting to take ourselves a little too seriously here? I mean, we are really beginning to buy our own bullshit. I understand all the expectations. I am aware of the cut scores I need to get students to reach in order to validate my professional existence And yet, I still see nothing wrong with having a 15 minute parade where mom can take a picture of her seven year old dressed up at school. Shame on us for allowing this to happen.
I don't think I'm being a romantic here. Efficient use of time is something I'm all for. Yet I find it interesting that the same people who kicked Halloween out in order to maximize instructional time summarily ignore the data which evidences how much learning is lost taken endless tests.
Perhaps I'm making a bigger deal out of this than it's worth. But I remember my holiday parties as a young kid and they marked some of the calendar highlights growing up. With the volume of poor families and broken homes on the rise, one could argue these parties are more important than ever. I guess I just have a hard time believing that eliminating parties and replacing them with more RtI testing (or whatever) helps create "life long learners"....