It’s what I call the doldrums of the year. February and March. Snow is melting (if there was any), grass not yet green, trees still bare of their leaves and the rare chirping bird still seems out of place. Our favorite winter clothes are getting old and tiring and even I begin to think about the spring and summer. I will be honest it is not my favorite time of year. Occasionally snow falls and brightens up the landscape or the sun shines brightly tempting us with a tiny taste of spring but for the most part, it just is.
So that being said it is the perfect time to bringing a little Christmas cheer right? Okay maybe not, but better late than never I guess.
For the last few years I have seen that mischievous little elf pop his head up in lots of places and have always secretly thought it would be fun to participate. Not having children of my own at home meant that my classroom would be the place for his visits. I got my elf as a gift for Christmas the year before (thanks little brother) and in the beginning of November I begin to plan and plot his appearances. I will admit it was really fun to think of fun creative ways to use him. That being said I knew I didn’t really want him to be the “naughty elf”. I wanted him to be fun and a little extra motivation.
So why did I decide to bring an elf on the shelf into our classroom? School is hard, let’s be honest. We have very high demands on our students and our teachers and it can be stressful for all. My fear is with all the pressure and requirements of our students we forget to just let kids be kids and have a little fun. We study and work and study and work some more and by December I think we are all ready for a little distraction and extra motivation. I was hoping that he would create just that for us all without taking away learning time. He came through for me. The students loved writing in their elf journals and I loved giving them more writing practice without them knowing it. Over all I think it was a success. I will change some things next time but I do think another elf is in my teaching future.
Our Elf appeared on day one with a wrapped gift (his book), a small Christmas tree and a Santa bag with a writing journal for each student. We spent some time reading the book and coming up with a name. I let the students give suggestions for names and vote on them. We were in the midst of the best ever Seattle Seahawk’s season and this of course led my students to the perfect name……Russell……after Russell Wilson of course. This was a very proud moment for this teacher I must say.
We found Russell making snowmen out of powdered sugar donuts. I’m not the only one who loves snow apparently.
After picking out his favorite colors, Russell used some of our math manipulatives to build his own fort under the corner of my desk. We had a near tragedy today when a backpack accidentally brushed into Russell causing him to shift slightly. Whew that was a close one.
Apparently our elf was not afraid of heights as he spent the day watching from the ceiling.
With a name like Russell how could he not celebrate Blue Friday. He redecorated our tree in blue and green, hung signs, brought his football and helmet and even baked football shaped cake pops for the students who did their homework. This was the day that I was most excited about the whole time. Who knew I would wake up with the stomach flu that morning. Not cool. Between making sub plans in the wee hours of the morning and frequent trips to be ill, I was able to pull together his little display. This was the day I was most thankful for the work done ahead of time. Saddest part was not seeing their reaction when they arrived. Most maddening part was the students reporting to me that the sub told them the elf was a fake and that I was behind it all. REALLY?? Why I wonder? I mean, I never really tried to convince the kids that there was “elf magic” or push Santa on them and I knew some of the students had things figured out but we were having fun with it. Oh well.
Okay maybe this was the day I was most excited about, close call. Russell was found in our homework file and upon closer inspection we noticed he had photo copied a picture of himself to the back of our reading homework. We also discovered that one lucky student got a little help on his math homework that night.
Our city does monthly character traits and our school gives away awards each month to those students that display these character traits. On this day we found that he was teaching the character trait of December, Generosity, to some little friends. I was a little worried about my job to be honest but my students assured me I was the better teacher. Sorry Russell stick to football.
Even elves get tired and need to find a place to rest. We all decided we wanted pajamas just like his.
This was the morning we discovered that the best elves have trouble sneaking in sometimes. Poor guy, at least he was dressed warmly.
Truly the saddest day of the whole time was this one. After a week that brought more that one report of disrespectful behavior to others, the elf was saddened by watching it and did not show up. We spent the morning looking for him but after first recess a note arrived that explained it all. Even classes with elves are held to high expectations of being respectful and following school and classroom rules. Tough day, hard lesson…….necessary evil. We spent the weekend wondering if he would ever come back again.
I don’t remember ever living here and not having snow by at least November. This was a crazy weather winter and we were really missing it by this time. Russell tried to cheer us up by bringing his own twist on a winter wonderland. He is quit the snowflake making wizard by the way.
We had won the “Awesome Eagle” award the month before. Elf learned what it would feel like to ride on the back of an eagle. Hang on little buddy.
Good to know that elves realize the importance and the magic of reading a good book.
Elves get the coolest sleds.
The last day was bitter sweet for sure. It had been a lot of extra work but I had loved it. The kids knew he would not be back after break but I think they were okay with it to. We all agreed he needed to get Santa’s suit back to him real soon.
Lord it’s in your hands.