One way teachers like to inspire their high school students before the holiday break is by including them in door decorating. I personally have had little to no success with this. But I believe other teachers have. My door currently has some snowflake wrapping paper around the top one third of the door because the teacher (me) was dazzled by some shiny paper and she didn't bother to look at the fact that it was only enough for about three shirt boxes. Below that there is a six inch strip of wood grain-looking paper and the rest is just bare door. I had high hopes. I envisioned a brick fireplace, maybe some stockings or something, and I intended to add a bow, but I didn't really have a good plan for that. It's December 18th tomorrow, so I don't think it's really going to happen for me. Last week I took a look around a few other hallways to get some ideas and I'm pretty sure there's really no hope for me and the door thing. There was a teacher with a full on laser light show and a Christmas fountain (think the Bellagio, but Christmas themed and on a door in a public high school). I believe I saw one with live cardinals perched on a branch of a full grown potted white birch, and another with live elves and an actual wood-burning fireplace. The students in those rooms seem extremely inspired. I bet they all get good grades and are turning in homework on time.
I will have to think of other ways to inspire my students. I know some teachers like to have their students make snowflakes. I gave that a shot this year. I passed out white copy paper and scissors. My students were nonplussed. We are studying Othello, so I guess some of them didn't make the connection (that's a joke, there's no connection, I was just hoping to provide a little space for a brain break and to build community). My snowflakes were okay. At least I thought they were acceptable until I looked out in the hallway to find that the students from other classrooms were apparently using a more modern snowflake-making method. These snowflakes are just gorgeous and they are huge. They hang like Ikea light fixtures all the way down the hallway. They are 3-D and cut with such intricate detail that they really do resemble actual snow crystal shapes. It's probably the math teachers who can get their students to do that. I feel like there's dry ice involved there somehow too, but I haven't been able to figure that out.
So I'm apparently not the teacher who spreads holiday cheer with decor. What I'm better at is inspiring students by talking to them one on one, encouraging them when they do something well, and making positive contacts to their homes. I think that will go a lot further; so, instead of trying to get better at making snowflakes or hiring a professional interior designer for my door decor, I'm hoping to spend this last week before break making more meaningful connections and picking out the positives in my students. For some of them, they don't always hear a lot of positives in their world. I'd be proud to be able to say that I spent my last week before break making beatiful snowflakes, a "distinguished"-level door Christmas-scape, and positive connections with students, but if I can only choose one, I choose to inspire my students by making positive connections.
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