For special occasions and team building, my colleagues and I plan a day for our students during which we break out of academic classes and do a variety of activities in their place. It's one of the corner stones of middle school philosophy, that adolescents at this age need time to socialize and play for their intellectual and emotional well-being. As exhausting as those days can be, they are often some of the most rewarding of the year. It's always awesome to interact with students outside of the confines and conditions of the classroom; you see such a different side of them. Today we had our holiday unit day, and it really was a great day. My students this year are wonderful. They are sweet, well-behaved, funny and willing to play along, all qualities that contribute to a positive unit day. We celebrated our model students with awards, raffled off some prizes they were enthusiastic about winning and played games. It was also great to spend the day with my colleagues, who never fail to amaze me. They are outstanding educators, supportive teammates and true friends. It's often difficult to be a teacher, but days like today balance out the hardships.
Today was also a perfect day for me to take part in a unit-day on a personal level. All week I was slightly dreading today. I couldn't believe that on the 23rd I would be in school for a full day. I expected to feel like I was robbed of the build-up to Christmas by being at work. And since Kegan and I spend the holiday with two families it feels more like I have two Christmases than a Christmas Eve and a Christmas. Christmas Eve, growing up, was always the day I enjoyed more. The palpable excitement, the hours that drag by, filled with fun activities to pass the time, everyone around you abuzz and cheerful. I realized that, today-- the 23rd-- could be my Christmas Eve. With the wonderful students I have this year, I was excited to spend it with them. I fed off of their excitement and energy, our day was planned much as I would plan out a Christmas Eve of my childhood, and I relished in the hugs and good cheer of my 7th and 8th graders. This all makes me so thankful to have had a unit day today.