Updated: Nov 10, 2022
Spring is a celebratory time for Mother Earth. Trees are budding, and flowers are casting bright colors into view; like a show-and-tell for all their hard work over the winter months. They’re bringing water up from the ground through their veins, and along with it; the perfect amount of sugars and proteins to burst into this final moment; Spring. With its explosion of color and grace, Kikori is ringing in Spring with a focus on celebration in the classroom!
I am sure both students and teachers would agree that as the school year comes to a close, it's a time for SOME sort of celebration. Celebrating together makes us feel more connected to one another. Remember the last day of school and the exhilarating energy it brought with it? Achieving something together as a class over time, and being reminded of that goal throughout the year, promotes cooperation over competition.
So it got me thinking, why don't we sample some of this celebratory energy throughout the year? What are the benefits of celebrating wins in the classroom- both for each student individually, and the class as a whole? What are some easy ways teachers can incorporate celebration into the school year? In this blog, I will be addressing all of these questions, providing resources for you to look through at your leisure about the importance of celebrating in the classroom, and some engaging Kikori App activities for you to use in the classroom right away!
It's never too early to celebrate!
Celebration and Student Motivation- Creating Leaders
“Celebrations, in this case, are an authentic means to recognize a child’s effort or accomplishment, rather than focusing on reward systems.”
In an attempt to find some good sources on ‘why celebration is good for student morale’, I stumbled upon Leader in Me. They are an organization designed to promote leadership in students through exploring different modes (they use the word ‘paradigm’) of teaching. They are heavily focused on changing the way teachers feel about how to create change in schools, in order to promote better student motivation, leadership and achievement through things like goal-setting. Setting personal goals and working towards achieving them is an invaluable life skill that I feel many don't learn at a young age, but celebrating those achievements is also a huge part of that. An article on their website entitled Celebration: The Internal Motivator for Student Achievement, does a great job of tying in the idea of ‘cooperation over competition’, which seemed like the perfect place to dive in!
The author gives some guidelines to celebrations in the classroom;
Celebrations can be:
Big or small
Private or public
One-on-one or in a group
Celebrations should be:
Consistent (happening often!)
They also provide great examples of celebrations;
Visuals in the environment
Phone calls to home
The article finished off with a sweet anecdote about a young student achieving her goal and getting recognized for it. It is clear that Leader in Me has done a great job promoting students' inner motivation and leadership by being authentically recognized for their achievements.
Celebration and its Positive Effects on Wellbeing
This article from Psychology Today provides a great background for understanding why celebrating the little moments are essential, and even gives a guide on how to be more mindful! Check it out if you’re interested. They mention the researcher's name ‘Fred Bryant’ when talking about this idea of savoring the moment, so I thought I would do a little more digging into his work.
Fred Bryant Ph.D, a professor at the Loyola University of Chicago, has done around 40 years of research on this positive psychology topic he termed ‘savoring’. He attempts to quantify this ‘savoring’ psychological state, and in his later works gets a bit too detailed for what we need in this month’s blog. In general though he is studying the effects of savoring the positive moments in life, on people's mood and overall behavior.
I sifted through some of his papers, and I found this review from 2021 which gives a great overview of what savoring means; “the capacity to attend to, appreciate, and enhance the positive experiences in one’s life” (Bryant and Veroff, 2007, p. xi). This review was written after he published a book, Savoring: A New Model of Positive Experience in 2007. Bryant touches on the history behind his research, which came from observing old psychological testimonies from the 1950s regarding people's positive and negative outlooks on differing situations. Bryant and his colleague were able to conclude that “being able to handle negative events in ways that reduce distress does not guarantee one will experience positive events in ways that promote well-being.” Therefore it would be crucial for us to compensate for that by truly relishing in our happiness, and savoring the moment.
In another one of his papers from 2012, Bryant studied the negative relationship that Type A people have with their overall well being while on vacation. Allowing oneself to relax on vacation can be hard for a lot of people! After completing the study, they were able to confirm that savoring would be able to mediate the negative effects that Type A people have on their own personal well being. The quality of the vacation was brought down immensely by the coping mechanisms that the Type A person was using, to try and control the outcomes. By doing this, they actually were less present during the vacation and created a less positive experience overall for themselves, when compared to those who really savored the positive moments of the trip.
Some great ways to Savor the Moment in the classroom:
Monthly Goal achievement- your class working together towards a goal!
End of the Year parties- perfect time for reflection!
Holiday Celebrations- make it historical if you want!
Educator Appreciation Days- the teachers need some love too! Also a great way to have all of the students participate towards one goal.
Setting Goals Together in The Classroom
The whole ‘ Leader in Me’ methodology got me thinking about other ways a teacher would be able to set up more goal-oriented celebrations in the classroom, to promote cooperation over competition. I agree with celebrating students' individualized goals, but what about working together towards something throughout the year? Or over the course of a month? I feel that would promote a positive morale, and connectivity between the students. Something that puts everyone on a level playing field, and not in competition with each other over getting a certain grade. A sustainable example I came up with off the top of my head, was having a class go outside to pick up trash every Friday. The trash is collected in a designated bin, labeled with different levels of achievement, and at the end of each month a prize is given to the entire class depending on the level of trash collected. Everybody wins, including Mother Earth!
So, I researched more “classroom goals” on Google, and -of course! - found some interesting research promoting the whole idea of setting goals for a class to work on as a whole.
Celebration Builds Community in the Classroom
I think the idea behind celebration bringing people together is pretty self explanatory, but I found some compelling research that supports this idea and thought it would be nice to include it! The purpose of this study was to find the most successful modes of creating celebration in the classroom from the teachers perspective. If you are interested, I would highly recommend clicking the link above to take a look at the paper, it's well outlined and easier to read than most!
In the beginning they claim that nowadays teachers are more pressured to conduct socialization between their students, as much of their socialization comes from being at school, not necessarily at home. There is great overall background on ideas like ‘celebration supporting a sense of community in the classroom’. One resource they cited was a book entitled The Heart of a Family by Meg Cox, written in 1998. From this book- that I was not able to find a PDF of online- they compiled a list of 10 things that rituals, celebration, and tradition do for children, I will share the few I found relevant below;
impart a sense of identity
provide comfort and security
help navigate change
teach practical skills
create meaningful memories
Feeling a part of a team, but also feeling like you and your classmates are one in the same, can only benefit a student (of all ages) in their learning experience. Another great piece of background information taken from Creating your Classroom Community (1995) by Lois Bridges Bird, was the notion that “celebrations, whether impromptu or meticulously planned, help to define the classroom as a bonded group by creating a shared experience and a shared history. Bridges viewed this as a means to develop a classroom character with a distinctive internal order.” I feel this really sums up the point here!
Which Kikori Activities Are Best for My Celebration?
The Kikori App has many different categories when it comes to the activities provided! I have created a small guide below to help you pick the best activities to infuse into your specific class celebration! ;
Appreciation activities are important to appreciate how far you’ve come individually, but also great discussion starters between students, in pairs or a group setting! Try these Appreciation Activities below.
Reflection is perfect for an end of the year party, in a more relaxed and free setting. It doesn't have to be about something goal oriented, it can just be reflecting on what you’re proud of!
Postcard to Your Future Self Closing Reflection
Climer Cards- Pick a Card That
Perfect for any celebration, to get your students moving! Also great for Goal Setting!
Why not celebrate outside? Perfect for team building. Check out my last blog about the benefits of students being outside for more insight!
Adventure Walk off the Ground
Three-Person Trust Walk
The month of June holds many of the quintessential educational achievements within it, like high school and college graduation. These are considered milestones in one's life, but some celebrations in the educational world can be more personal; like the deep sigh of relief, you feel after submitting your last project of the year. Completing a school year in full- that's an achievement in itself! Students often forget this, I know I did!
Happy End of the Year! :)