The school Halloween party can truly live up to the reputation of this major fall holiday: nightmarish. I've taught at schools from both extremes of the Halloween issue:
He's smiling because he
doesn't have to run the party
I've gotta say that the "no-Halloween" approach, while perhaps a bit Hallow-Scrooge to some, does make it a lot easier on a classroom teacher.
But the point here is that your school will most likely have a way they do the school Halloween party thing and you'll have to go along with it.
So assuming you have to handle the distraction of costumes, I'll discuss classroom behavior management for that little challenge, then talk over the classroom party aspect of the holiday...the part that you truly control (you know...after the parade winds down!).
But first...a word about keeping the fun classroom activities from ostracizing members of your classroom community.
But an observant teacher will keep her ears open for clues and will be familiar with the traditions of the communities served by her school.
You can make it easier on your students to be open with you by mentioning that you understand the situation and for them to let you know so arrangements or an excused absence can be made for Halloween. Some of your kids may be a little shy to state their restrictions and be questioned by other members of the class.
With that said, let the school Halloween party begin!
Our first step in costume management is setting expectations with both students and parents. Use class discussion, your newsletter and your website (if you have one) to make it very clear that costumes:
"Oh, Mrs. Weigle! It wasn't that hard to put on!"
Even if your school takes a "do-whatever-you-want" position regarding costumes, I strongly encourage you to follow the guidelines above. Letting "anything go" will bring out the inner gremlins in many of your kids, undoing in a day many of your classroom team-building and community efforts.
While you are communicating with parents, enlist a few to help get kids ready on the big day. You'll have groups in two different places (classroom and bathroom) and will need all the help you can get to keep this event on the list of your "fun classroom activities" rather than your list of "never again!" activities.
Oh, and another parent reminder: No candy at school. They'll get plenty of that at home.
The biggest headache of a school Halloween party is getting everyone into their costumes. It can be a true classroom behavior management challenge. Here's a few tips to make it as smooth as possible.
NOTE: I'm assuming that your kids won't wear their costumes all day long. An all-day dress-up party is not a day where any learning occurs!
First thing in the morning, have your students bring their costumes in a bag and line them up along the wall in alphabetical (lunch-line) order. Hopefully, having them bagged and out of the way will help your students focus a little better on their lessons (but don't count on it).
When it's time, start the dressing-up process.
Depending on the complexity of the costume, some kids stay in your room and others go to the bathroom (supervised!). Kids with Halloween costumes that are primarily masks and items that go over their clothing stay in the room; those who must do a complete change go to the bathroom.
Supervising students in the bathroom doesn't mean you ask a parent to actually go into the bathroom. Standing outside the bathroom with an ear peeled for the tell-tale indicators of mischief is all that is needed.
Give everyone a time limit. Ten minutes should be sufficient.
All dressed up? Take some pictures! Now... it's time for the party!
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