Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Nothing Like An Egg Hunt to Release the Inner Child

(Yes, it's been a long, dry month of no posts. Am home sick again today. I just can't seem to rid myself of a general malaise brought on by my second cold/flu bout in three weeks time. Must be the creeping cruds. Anyway, the post that follows is a year old. It comes from an event we held at school to lighten the climate during the drudge month of March '08. We have just held our 2nd annual teacher egg hunt for '09, but I've no energy to recap, so am giving you a recount of last year's just so I can post. Hope you are all well. I've also been busy dealing with our renovation which we have just expanded to include new bathrooms and a walk-in closet. I guess if we're going to renovate, we may as well get it all done at one time. I hope you all had a wonderful and blessed Easter.)

This is the original email which was sent to an unsuspecting staff in March '09:

Get Hoppin’…

Peter Cottontail and Betty Bunny were very busy Tuesday night. They hid 162 plastic eggs ALL OVAH the school.

In all your rooms, Peter Cottontail has hidden a plastic egg with your name on it.

The Challenge: Peter is challenging you to find your egg. Some will be easier to find than others (in fact, Peter thinks some won’t be found until retirement). Return the empty egg with your name sticker left on it to your grade level secretary by the Friday prior to spring break (April 4).

The grade level with the greatest percentage of returned eggs will be treated to lunch on the Monday we sluggishly return from our respite (April 7).

Peter hopes the eggs reproduce as rapidly as rabbits!!!!!

This is the recap which I sent to Andrea Corona Jenkins at Hula Seventy ...who had a wonderful post about Little Paper Fortunes entitled "Friday Afternoon" which began the whole inspiration for the egg hunt (you MUST read her post. It is wonderful. You'll need to scroll down to Oct 15, 2007 entry). Here's my recap from last year:
December is a tough month in education, as is March! Prior to Christmas Break the kids and the teachers were stretched to just put one foot in front of another as they waited for a little time off. Only about five teachers decided to do the project this year, but they did enjoy it. They couldn't take the kids off school property to "plant" the fortunes as I'd hoped. Anyway, they did do the best they could at the time. Each class group placed all the fortunes in chinese food containers decorated with holiday themes they got from Hobby Lobby. The teachers then brought the boxes to a few coffee houses and some mom-and-pop type stores where they set them up by the cash registers. People were encouraged to take a fortune when they made a purchase.

BUT two weeks ago, the principal and I revisited the little paper fortunes idea in an attempt to lighten the droll, cabin-fever climate hanging like a cloud over the building. I took blank fortune strips to the media center (our library) and explained what I wanted to the students who so (un-)cheerfully had to spend two hours with an assistant principal after school for a little, um, extended day. I told them I needed volunteers to write generic, cheerful notes to our staff. It was totally voluntary on their part, yet about 20 kids took the bait. After a time, I told them if they really wanted to, they could write fortunes to specific teachers. These kids have a tendency to only show their tough exteriors, but during this activity they really allowed their sweet insides to emerge.

As an aside, there are 162 teachers, aides, custodians, cafeteria workers, secretaries, counselors, principals, School Resource Officer, bookkeepers, media center specialists, and other staff in our building. We also have 1500 sixth, seventh and eighth graders. It's a wonderful, crazy place.

So anyway, the principal and I stuffed 162 plastic eggs with treats and paper fortunes and labeled each egg with a staff member's name. (I so enjoyed being able to stuff some very tender fortunes in specific teachers' eggs. I knew they'd love them.) We then hid an egg all over the building in areas specific to the individual--i.e., in that teacher's classroom, in the school kitchen, in the boiler room, etc. It took several hours to hide the eggs and we almost got caught by one teacher who was working too, too late. The principal unlocked the classroom door and walked into what she thought was an empty room only to find the teacher sitting at his desk under a dimly lit lamp. "Oh!, she said, "I'm in the wrong room!" and then quickly backed out before the teacher could respond. It was so dumb, we laughed all night about it.

The next morning, I sent out an email with the announcement that we had hidden the eggs and that there was a challenge to each teacher to find their egg. Oh-my-GOSH! What a delightful impact this whole endeavor had! You would have thought these teachers were all little children again. Some teachers let their students help in the hunt, while others threatened to fail (in jest) any student who found their egg before they had a chance to look for it. There were emails flying back and forth with comments and silliness and "found-mine-in-the-4H-geraniums-by-the-way-you-can-buy-one-for $1.25-each!" advertisements and "my OCD is kicking in and I can't get any teaching done until I find my egg!" and much more. It was so wonderful to experience pure joy and silliness in people who were so tired and just praying for spring to arrive.

We asked teachers to return their empty eggs to their grade level secretary (for next year, of course!). The grade level with the greatest percentage of returns would have lunch provided the Monday we get back from spring break. We're actually going to provide lunch for everyone, but it was fun to put forth the challenge.

Anyway, everywhere I walk in the building, I see those little paper fortunes put in places of honor. I walked by our technology guy's office and saw his taped to his window. It says, "Thank u for makin this a grate plase to be." I guess we need to work on that spelling some more. I taped mine above my desk. They say, "You are loved" and "You are lookin gooood!"

It is two weeks later and I'm still getting comments from teachers about how much they enjoyed it all. So, Andrea, you need to take some of the credit. The impetus for all this was your inspiring blog entry about having your wee-ones make little paper fortunes to leave around your city for no other purpose but to bring a moment of joy or tenderness to what might have been an otherwise difficult day.

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