Friday, March 09, 2012
The Importance of Crazy Hair Day
Today is going to be one of those days at work that I love. More than usual. And probably as much, if not more, than the kids I work with. It's Crazy Hair Day. A day I try and get my now short hair to do something crazy looking - on purpose - for the only reason to make the kiddos laugh.
I absolutely LOVE the funny theme days that take place at school. I mark them on my calendar and plan ahead as to what I can do. I mean, come on, what other jobs not only allow you to dress up in all kinds of funny outfits or crazy hairstyles but promotes it? I love them all. Crazy hair day, crazy sock day, nerd day, fancy dress day, mismatch day, pajama day, twin day, spirit day... you name it, I'm doing it.
Believe it or not, but there are actually some parents who despise theme days like this. If you're one of them, then please keep reading - cause maybe I can help to change your mind a little. They think that encouraging the kids and teachers to dress up in crazy attire is a distraction from the education process - and well, just pointless. I couldn't disagree more. If I were to really go out on a limb, I'd say that these days are what boost the kids to do better. Why? So glad you asked...
Let's take me and only me for an example. I have earned the reputation with my kiddos as being pretty strict. No, make that very strict. I'm a no excuse, no funny business kinda teacher when it comes to getting the work done and making those kids do their best. It's not uncommon for me to walk in to a classroom and actually hear "uh oh, Ms. Hill's here" or "ssshhh, stop talking, Ms. Hill's here". Those kids know when I walk in the room I mean business. Certain kids try to avoid eye contact because a) they've either been in trouble that day and don't want me to find out about it by the guilty looks on their faces, b) they're doing something they're not supposed to and know that I'm going to catch them or c) they're worried I'll focus my attention on them when they're not giving 100% to do whatever it is they've been asked to do.
But, before I paint the expression of myself as being the Wicked Witch of the West - keep reading. Despite my no funny business reputation, I will go out on a limb of egotism and say that all the kids I work and interact with love me. OK, not ALL of them... but most of them. I am constantly greeted with hugs in the hallways. I receive pictures and handmade cards almost on a daily basis with "I LOVE MS.HILL" written 100 times. Sure, they could just be bribing me - or trying to soften me up - but that's not the reason.
So, what is it that makes the kids love me even though I'm tough, strict, and sometimes a little mean? The fact that I celebrate and reward their hard work by getting a little crazy when I can. It's not uncommon at all for me to spend my recess duty playing soccer with the kids. It doesn't bother me a bit to run around the playground with those kids and show them that I do have a fun side. It's probably not the most professional way for me to carry myself - but I figure that recess duty is a great opportunity for me to interact with the kids on a different level than when we're in the classroom. When they give me their best, I want to reward them for it. On the theme days, they've grown to expect me to participate. They often ask me days in advance what I'm going to do or how I'm going to dress. On special party days (the kids earn quarterly parties for reaching their reading goals), I get invited to all of the class parties - by the kids - who want me to come and share in their successes and have some fun with them...cause they know I will.
My thoughts on life have always been and will probably always be that hard work pays off. It's what I try to instill in the kids I work with. I don't expect them to be right all the time, I expect them to try as hard as they can. Not because I'm making them, because they want to. It's not just a lesson I push on those kids, it's a lesson I push on myself. When you work hard, good things happen.
Take my weight loss for example. When I was working hard, exercising 4 or 5 times a week, eating right, and avoiding my urges to be lazy and sit on the couch - great things were happening. My body was transforming, my weight was going down, I was able to wear cuter clothes and feel better about myself. When I'm constantly making excuses, skipping the gym, opting for fast food instead of healthy food - my body is getting lazy, it's gaining weight, and I feel uncomfortable in just about anything I wear.
And, even though I'm trying hard to get back to that hard work woman - I try every day to instill that mentality on those kids. If they try hard, study, get extra help, do something over again - even though they don't want to - good things happen. They get special parties. They get to participate in fun events. And they get to see one of their sometimes mean teachers dress up in crazy ways or play outside with them at recess. It may sound like a small pay off, but it's not to them. They soak it up - and they'll do the work to get the smallest of rewards.
This week, I've pushed kids to the limit. It's a week away from Spring Break and they're tired and frustrated and ready for that break. Does that mean they get to slack off? Absolutely not! I have to keep my demeanor and express how important it is for them to keep working, keep pushing through - it's not spring break yet. And even though it doesn't sound like much - today they'll get rewarded for that. Today, I magically transform in to Crazy Ms. Hill - with her crazy hair and all. I get to have some fun. Reward those kids for continuing to push through. They deserve it.
So, if you happen to be one of those people that think it's absolutely crazy and pointless to have these types of theme days - I'll hope you'll reconsider your views. They are not a distraction to the education process, they are a reward for those kids following the education process. Small, minor rewards as getting to dress up are what motivate kids to give what they can.
Now, I have to give that advice back to myself. I don't want to be a hypocrite. I don't want to be one of those people that give the "do as I say, not what I do" speeches. I have to do the hard work for good things to happen. If I can buckle down, exercise, eat right, and find healthier alternatives to my emotional eating - I'll be rewarded. I'll be lighter, fitter, and more comfortable in my clothes. If I'm going to teach those kids - I better be doing it by example.
Till next time. ;)