It’s here- the scariest week of the year. Not because of the horror movies, or the monsters, or the haunted houses… but Halloween is on a school night. Again. It is terrible for parents, terrible for kids, and yes, terrible for teachers.
It is on a Thursday this year, so we get four days of kids being excited about this candy-focused holiday on which they can take on whatever persona they want. So, what can we do to make it better? Let’s throw in theme days for Red Ribbon Week (which I totally support, by the way), but dressing in crazy socks, crazy hair, or like a well-known meme does nothing to restore calm to the classroom. And don’t get me started on what moms, dads, and caretakers are doing at home to help get these costumes ready each day. I can imagine the curse words being uttered under parents’ breath as they make sure the can of blue hair spray still works from last year and that the one pair of school appropriate pajamas that still fit are clean. I can imagine them because I am the one uttering those words at my house in the evening.
I get it. I do. The kids are crazy anyway, so it makes sense to embrace it rather than fight it, and give them some direction with costumes so we don’t have classrooms full of Scream masks. (Are those still a thing, or am I hopelessly outdated?)
But as teachers, how do we make it through the next 5 days? Here are some practical tips.
- Jump on board with the theme or group costume or whatever your school does. Kids love to see you take on the spirit of the holiday. However, if you are not feeling it, give yourself a break, too. If you can’t handle one more person to dress up, roll with your more comfortable teacher clothes and give yourself a pass.
- Embrace Halloween, but don’t go overboard. A few spooky short stories for elementary or maybe some Poe for middle or high school during the week of Halloween is fine, but don’t spend the entire month of October building anticipation. It’s too much and by the time the week comes, you and the students are either so sick of it that they will rebel or the excitement is at an all time high and cannot be contained.
- Ask kids individually what their plans for Halloween are. Don’t assume that all kids have a nice, safe neighborhood to Trick or Treat, and some kids may not even celebrate. Know what they are up to so you can plan accordingly and respectfully. Notice them.
- Plan something easy for November 1. Don’t make a large homework assignment due, don’t plan a test or writing assignment. Kids will be tired and cranky; you will be tired and cranky. Make it a day that kids can stay engaged, but not tackle new content or be assessed. Give them a day to recover- they may not say it, but they will appreciate it.
- Finally, coffee and your teacher friends. Better yet, bring coffee for your teacher friends. You are all going to need it.