By Teachers, For Teachers
Homecoming week is genuinely an exciting week with spirit days, pep assemblies and dance preparations. While it can be a nice break from your regular school routine, getting students to focus on anything other than homecoming during this time is not an easy feat. However, despite the lack of focus, there is still some valuable learning that is taking place. Students are honing their communication and team-building skills, as well as their problem-solving skills, by working with their classmates to show their student pride. When students can participate in these activities and build these essential skills, they are not only developing and learning, but they are also creating memories that will last a lifetime.
While homecoming week may not be a productive week for learning academics, it can be a great time for student bonding. It can also be the perfect opportunity for teachers to get in on all of the fun. Here are a few tips to help you survive homecoming week so it won’t feel like you’ve lost the entire week to float-building and dress-up days.
Consider relaxing students’ workload for the entire week of homecoming. You can still have a few productive class periods, but try not to schedule homework during this time. If you do, then all you are doing is making it that much harder on not only your students but yourself. Have students participate in some creative classroom activities such as educational board games like Scrabble or online games like Free Rice, where students practice various content areas to help raise money for starving families. Consider having students travel back in time to study how past students used to celebrate homecoming week. Assign student groups different eras, and have students dress up like that era to teach classmates how homecoming during the period they studied was observed. Try choosing team-building activities for students to participate in instead of your regularly scheduled curriculum during this week.
According to research, homecoming is a century-old American tradition that dates back to the 1870s, but it wasn’t until around 1910 that the nation’s first homecoming was celebrated. Since then high schools and colleges have observed with their own traditions. Homecoming week is a time to get into the school spirit and show your school pride. One of the most popular traditions to do during this week is to participate in the pep rally – a gathering of people encouraging school spirit to support a team before a sporting event. Teachers can get involved in the pep rally and show their school spirit by dressing up and getting involved in a homecoming skit. A fun idea is to have students dress up as teachers and teachers dress up as students, or the cheerleaders and football players dress up like each other. Try to have fun during this week, and show students that you have school pride just as much as they do.
Another way to survive homecoming and show your school pride is to decorate your classroom. Typically during homecoming week, the hallways are decorated, as well as students’ automobiles or floats, but your classroom, too, can also get in on all of the fun. Take one day during class time to have students work together to dress up your classroom with your school colors. Students can choose a theme that either correlates with the school’s homecoming theme or select one of their own. Have students decorate the classroom door and bulletin boards, as well as place decorations on the walls and from the ceiling. Decorating your classroom is just another way to showcase your school spirit, and it gives students the opportunity to bond with one another.
Each year as homecoming week comes around, teachers happily like to participate in spirit days, such as the pep rally, school skits, and the homecoming dance. However, the week can be exhausting. Try not to get involved in too many things and overextend yourself. It is unnecessary to get involved in every aspect of homecoming week; instead, you can pick a few things to participate in. For example, using class time to have students create school-themed decorations for your classroom or volunteering to be in the homecoming skit can be a lot of fun. However, volunteering your car to be decorated as a float in the school spirit parade, being a chaperone for the homecoming dance, decorating your classroom, and being in charge of the food and activities for the homecoming football game can also put too much on your plate and can lead to teacher burnout. Pick and choose a few things that are of interest to you and leave the other activities for other teachers.
Homecoming is a time for creating and making memories. Despite having to sacrifice a few days of actual academic teaching, participating in spirit week (without overextending yourself) can be one of the best times of the school year.
How do you survive homecoming week in your school?
Janelle Cox is an education writer who uses her experience and knowledge to provide creative and original writing in the field of education. Janelle holds a master’s of science in education from the State University of New York College at Buffalo. She is a contributing writer to TeachHUB.com, Graduateprogram.org, and Hey Teach. She was also the elementary education expert for About.com for five years. You can follow her on Twitter @empoweringed, on Facebook at Empowering K12 Educators, or contact her at Janellecox78@yahoo.com.