Day 140 (of 183) on one-shot wonders (ie special days)
Friday was Earth Day. And as I popped in and out of various classrooms, I heard a common theme – while today is earth day, we need to think about our planet EVERY day.
And I like that. Special events are nice (we recently had soccer day and baseball day where we had all of our students learning a common sport) but when they are events that should be done everyday……shouldn’t they?
Special days can be used to create a visual model of a shift – I can still remember the craziness of Earth Day and the wacky concepts of Reduce Reuse Recycle and Recover – but while it started slow, it also was purposeful. Likewise with “aboriginal/First Nations/etc days” – I’ve never been as supportive of there as highlight days mainly because where I have mostly worked it is a mindset of “what we do everyday”. Similarly we are considering removing “self regulation” as one of my current schools goals because it has become pet of our culture – part of what we do each day.
One shot wonders are similar. It’s great when we have special guests come in to model a teachable moment, but there is an awareness that it will happen once – with little to no “follow up”. We are currently trying to arrange this by having a group of students go to build a kindness bench. Has some value to both our school and the learners, but it doesn’t mean that the students have to keep doing bench building.
Not saying that “one day wonders” are bad. Sometimes we are planting seeds for future growth. There is an advantage to ‘try before you buy’ – better to take part in an #hourofcode before investing money and time into a subject area that may or may not be a hobby/career/authentic interest. Kinda why I like #geniushour “fails” so much (where learners discover they don’t like something as much as they thought they should).
It is however tricky when we have ongoing “one shoters” – which is kind of how I feel when doing my library program – only having a class once a week though has its challenges – specifically absences but also just the nature of scaffolding learning once/week. I’ve tried build a school code of conduct this way, but mindfully knowing I am crowd sourcing and still focusing on one topic per week. Probably the one success has been doing Friends for Life via the library because it is designed for once a week instruction and reflection.
I am admittedly nervous that there is talk about reducing our music (currently twice a week and thereby we are able to build learning based on consistency and routine) and spreading the (prep) time between the music/fine arts and library. While library needs more time (in my humble opinion I’d love every school to have a full time librarian…but I am more than a little biased!) I remain worried that we may be watering down two programs as opposed to doing one well. An ongoing internal debate!
Special events are great – the day we had some Yukon Gold tv show miners visit was great. Whenever the BC Lions pop in is also amazing. But I never expect groups/people like that to provide ongoing instruction/lessons – it would be amazing, but….we just need to be mindful of how one-shot wonders and special days are different than ongoing learning opportunities.