Did you know National Panda Day is March 16th? I didn’t, until I thought of an idea for a special day, wanted to call it Happy Panda Day! and then googled Panda Day. Of course it is. Do you know what day I want to celebrate Happy Panda Day? March 11. Coincidence. I think not.
About a week ago, a colleague and friend posted on facebook about how she had been feeling ‘low-level irritable’ lately. One person responded with a possible explanation for all of our whatever-level irritability lately: we are coming up on the anniversary of the start of Covid-Weirdness and our inability to reckon with that anniversary might be fueling our frustration.
What if finding a way to reckon with that strangeness could help us navigate some of the emotions that we are all feeling but can’t name. For our school, we have a spring break in the middle of March (yes this is unusual compared to most schools). More importantly, though, it was the last time we were together last year before moving into virtual insanity (yup, Jamiroquai). We are working now on a plan to celebrate our students and teachers for making it through the strangest, weirdest, masked, distanced, high-tech year of education anyone has ever been through.
It is still a little early in the process, and scarily, not that far away, but I shared it with my Mastermind group last week and it received a lot of smiles, snaps, and claps, so let’s go for it. I thought I would share it far and wide (as wide as the dozen readers of the blog go), because if one other person can benefit from this idea, it is worth sharing. Right now, it is in rough draft form, but I’ve got some friends helping and am determined to make this happen. If you have ideas, please send them my way.
Why Happy Panda Day! First, our school has a really cute statue of two pandas outside our school. Second, pandas seem to be really carefree, happy, relaxed creatures. Who doesn’t feel better after watching a video of a panda eating some bamboo or rolling around in the forest?
One really important element of the day: teachers don’t have to plan anything! My goal is to make this day as relaxing for them as it is for the students. Teachers should be allowed to just show up and BE with their students.
Priya Parker says in The Art of Gathering that every gathering should have a purpose, so here is ours:
Celebrate students and teachers for working hard and working together to make it through the weirdest school year in a really long time.
Everything we should lead back to that purpose, and here is what I have thought of so far to celebrate all the hard work our teachers and students have put in for the past year:
- DEAR/Pajama Day – Wear your pajamas, bring in a pillow and a stuffie so you can relax. DEAR stands for Drop Everything and Read, so bring a good book to cuddle up with, too.
- Good News Live – If you saw John Krasinki’s Some Good News last year, we started our own. Occasionally we do live episodes. This seems like a good day for Good News.
- Food – We have to have food. Pizza Day?
- Yoga – Cosmic Yoga or Virtual Yoga instructors zooming in
- Drama Therapy (I happened to talk to someone last week who wants to do Drama therapy with our kids)
- Therapy dog visit (I don’t know if this is really possible yet, but it sounds good)
- Arts/Crafts Time – Making origami, bracelets, cards (I would love to do this so that kids make something for someone else in the building. I’m trying to figure out how we make sure everyone receives something.)
It’s going to take some logistical work to put it all together and we will have to tailor elements to different grade levels. Preschoolers and 5th graders probably won’t want to do the same exact activities, but I am really excited about this. In a year without field trips or normal classroom parties, or even recess with all the classes in their grade, our teachers and students deserve a school day that isn’t a school day. They deserve a a Happy Panda Day!