Wednesday, November 19, 2008

About the Holidays

There are so many traditions at Chets Creek around the holidays so the excitement is already beginning to build, but it can be a mine field for a new teacher. While it would be impossible to describe all of our traditions in detail, I'd like to give new teachers a brief overview and then invite all of our teachers to make comments about the best advice they can give about planning for the holidays.

The wreaths! "Wreaths" are due in the front office on December 3. Each class is asked to prepare at least one "wreath" to be sold at a silent auction during December. PTA is in charge of this long tradition. All of the money that is raised with your wreath project will be returned to your classroom. Sometimes Homeroom moms will take this project entirely on their own but often it's a collaborative effort between the teacher and their Homeroom moms. "Wreaths" have morphed into almost anything holiday-ish so you are only limited by your own creativity. Check out this wreaths blog entry from last year to get a kindergarten sampling of the auction items from last year. All of the items will be displayed in the lobby between December 1-11.

The faculty party! Each year the faculty joins together for a festive evening. It's a BYOB and an appetizer to share. Your significant other is also invited but often teachers just pair up and come together. I would say about half of the attendees bring a girl/boyfriend or spouse and the others come with another teacher. Either way, it's lots of fun. Dress is holiday-ish, a sort of business casual. Our Principal used to REQUIRE that every new teacher come and said she was going to take attendance! Of course, that's because she wants new teachers to understand how important relationships are in feeling successful. It's just such a great opportunity to meet in a less formal atmosphere and to get to know staff members that you don't get an opportunity to talk to in your regular day. You can "drop in" or stay the entire time. This year we will be going to Lori Lincous' house on December 6. Directions will be given closer to the event. Come, enjoy! You'll be glad you did!

The GIVING TREE! Each year, in the Lobby, you will see a wooden holiday tree with shelves for gifts. Children are encouraged to bring in new and gently used toys and canned goods. You will get a flyer from PTA about this later. This year if we collect 1000 cans, BJ's will give the school $1000, so make sure to put it in your Newsletter and encourage this wonderful tradition. If every child contributed just 1 can... Most of the toys and canned goods that are collected are shared with families right here in our school. The leftovers are sent to shelters and food banks. The Giving Tree will be available from December 1-15.

Secret Santa and the Holiday breakfast! For a week each December Santa's little elves can be seen all over the building. Faculty secretly pull a name of another faculty member and then leave little treats for them all week. The Spirit Committee hosts a holiday breakfast in the Media Center on the Friday of that week and all the Secret Santas are unveiled. This year it will be on Friday morning, December 12. Each grade level will be asked to bring something specific for us all to share. ALL staff are encouraged to attend.

The holiday tree! Each year JB erects a HUGE holiday tree in the lobby. The idea is that there is a picture of every single child in the school on the tree. Your job is to think of a small "ornament" that you can use to add one of the school pictures for each child. Often teachers use one of the Ellison cut-outs and add a picture. This does not have to be an elaborate project. The teacher ties all of the class ornaments together in a string garland and will be assigned a time on December 3 to come with their class and add their ornaments to the tree - with JB's help.

The 12 Days of Sweets! On the 12 days before we leave for the holidays, the office will be filled with sweets - from December 4-19. Teachers are encouraged to sign up at the "Spotlight" to bring one of their favorite holiday recipes on one of the 12 days. Get here early each morning and stop by to sample some of the best treats of the holiday season! You'll have visions of sugarplums dancing in your head all day!

The 2nd Grade Play! Each year 2nd grade presents it's holiday play on three different nights - December 4, 8, and 11. Each classroom is invited during the day on one of those days to the dress rehearsal. It's a holiday tradition to see a children's play.

Classroom parties! Most classrooms have some kind of classroom celebration on the last or next to the last day before the holiday. Most of the primary grades have morphed the "party" into a morning of centers with parent help, but a variety of activities exist from pajama and hot chocolate parties around The Polar Express to a multi-cultural day that includes a Christmas Around the World feast. Make sure to check with your grade level and gather ideas on what has gone on in the past. The teachers on your grade level will be your greatest resource.

Story time with Auntie Claus! On the last day before the holidays each grade level is invited to the Media Center for a story time with our very own Principal dressed up as Auntie Claus. She reads some of her favorite holiday stories and then each child receives holiday cookies and chocolate milk. Can't wait!

No Teacher Meetings, Team Meetings in December!


Anonymous said...

The best advice I can give is to keep it simple. Choose projects that are easy. We usually make our holiday auction item and ornament for the lobby tree on the last day of school before Thanksgiving break (as part of our fall celebration). We keep it simple, glue and glitter, or paint and dry. And we deligate! Ask for help! Parents love to do these types of things!

Also, think about not participating in some of the "activities" that are optional and that will send you over the edge. For example, I love the Secret Santa activity but it stresses me out completely. The 12 cookies days of Christmas are cute and gives us a chance to sample everyone's baked goodies and exchange recipes, but I am usually so stressed out by then that I often use my favorite recipe (thaw and serve).

Attend the faculty party and load up on laughter, friendship, and joy. It will carry you through December and into Winter Break.
Cheryl C.

Suzanne said...

I know this can be a hectic time of year, but my best advice is to try and "still yourself" throughout the process to savor the special moments. While your kids are decorating the ornaments, rather than feeling stressed, try and sit back and say, "These are memories they will keep forever." Start each day by writing down one positive statement or blessing, because starting your day on the right foot with the right attitude will make it a more joyous time of the year for you. And, always remember that the CCE family is here to support you. If you need a shoulder to lean on or an extra set of hands, or a book read aloud, you know where to find me. I am always willing to pitch in and help you. :) Enjoy and celebrate--two weeks off for Christmas is right around the corner.

Meli Launey said...

I can say that I am a bit overwhelmed with all of the happenings here this month. It is a bit much to take in for a new-timer.

But its all worth it. It is part of what makes the children that attend school at Chets so lucky. They will leave elementary school with experiences that many students could never even imagine and bonds that will never be forgotten. These are special holiday celebrations that so many schools have let go of in the new push for high test scores. Kids must still be kids! ...And here they certainly are given that opportunity.

As for the teachers, it is traditions like these that have introduced me to so many of them. Thank you to all of you that have answered my many questions and haven't laughed when I've made mistakes (Yes, I did almost show up dressed as Pippi Longstocking for the little kids parade, my 4th grade students would have had a ball with that!)

Maybe after a couple of years I will have it all down:)

The Lipsky Team said...

This is such a crazy time of year but I feel it is an amazing time for the students of Chets Creek! For our wreath auction every year Bobbi Matthews and I make a basket of homemade greeting cards (O.K. Bobbi makes the cards and puts them in the basket but I usually carry it to the lobby!) We love to auction off the greeting cards because they are so different from the other decorations being auctioned. I have already been out bid on a basket of books I was trying to win for my soon-to-be-teacher sister! Oh well :)

Happy Holidays!