Ah, the joys of teaching on a week that ends with the Halloween party! I’m not sure if there are more difficult grades to teach than elementary (and particularly primary) at the end of October, especially when conversations like the one below take place (even after guidelines have been sent home in writing in several languages):
Alex: Can I be Spiderman on Halloween?
Teacher: Yes, as long as you don’t attempt to climb the walls during the party.
Sarah Lynn: Will we have to sit down at all during the party? I can’t sit down in my hoop skirt.
Teacher: Our plans do include some sitting, so maybe you can practice at home.
Jose: Can we wear scary costumes?
Jose: Is Freddie Krueger scary?
Bucky: Can we wear our costumes to school?
Teacher: No. You BRING them to school and change before the party.
Tyrone: When can we wear the costume?
Teacher: ONLY DURING THE PARTY which is in the afternoon, AFTER LUNCH.
Tyrone: What time is lunch?
Teacher: At 11:30.
Annalise: Can we bring our costume in one day early?
Teacher: No, because we don’t want anything to happen to it.
DeShawn: Do you mind if my mom comes to the party to take pictures?
DeShawn: And can she bring all of the kids in her at-home daycare with her?
Teacher: Hmmmmm. I’ll have to get back to you on that one.
And then there is the actual day of the party when pounds of fun-sized candy bars are carried into the building, and Sarah, who you know very well understood that she was supposed to BRING her costume to change into after lunch, wore her costume to school and there is no one at home who can bring her a change of clothes. And of course, she’s wearing the hoop skirt! And Eric is crying at his desk because he left the shell of his Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle costume in the car when his mom dropped him off at school. And as you collect the donated treats, you realize that Sasha who volunteered to bring three bags of candy corn for the Bingo game has indeed brought three bags, but two of them have been opened and are half-eaten “cuz my dad likes eating candy corn while he’s watching TV… and he had some friends over and shared.” (Big sigh.)
I’m not sure about you, but I think that teachers are superheroes in disguise and that on weeks like this must “morph” into greater superheroes than normal. We must live in the delicate balance between the importance of teaching the curriculum and the importance of understanding the significance of days like Halloween to kids. We must take the extreme quantities of energy, daydreams, numerous questions, costume conundrums, “forgetful” behaviors, and bags of pre-eaten candy, and still produce meaningful lessons and a memorable (in a good way) party! If that doesn’t require a superhero, I don’t know what does!
Practical Application: More than almost any other week of the school year, this week is the perfect one to get up a little early (five minutes), mentally put on your “next level” superhero costume under your clothes, and pre-plan for the special circumstances the day may bring. Remember yourself as a child and how you looked forward to trick-or-treating. Visualize yourself and the students having peaceful conversations in which you are required to state the same information over and over. Don’t waste an ounce of your energy fighting against the goofiness, but choose patience and a light-hearted approach while leaning into the joy of teaching (even on the week that ends with the Halloween party).