Our teachers create "experiences" based on their content areas and we compile them in a guidebook which we hand out to the kids a few days before the big day. One student was walking to homeroom with his guidebook and he said to me, "Mr. McLane, this might be the only time a teacher has given me a piece of paper that I was told to bring back to school that I actually brought back to school."
We had a drone, singing, black light science, the Amazing Race in which kids ran around our campus solving math problems (find the circumference of this bicycle tire) and 25 other amazing experiences that the kids could choose from. They didn't just choose, they were virtually running to the next class. Yes, you read that correctly again.
I had a parent contact me last night, TLAP Day Eve, to tell me her high school daughter was jealous of her two younger brothers, because they got to experience TLAP Day and she didn't when she was in 6th grade. I found out this morning that the high school was on a 2-hour delay schedule today and she had pleaded with her mom to allow her to come to school early, spending the first two hours at our building participating in the amazing activities and then go to the high school two hours later. High school kid. Chance to sleep in. Last week of school. Wanted to come to school early. Yes you read that correctly.
In an era in which there are so many experts who have so many opinions on what is wrong with our schools and how they can be fixed, we constantly overlook the simplest of things. Do the kids want to be there? It is a simple thing to overlook, but a major mistake if we do. At our school, we don't try to make school awesome once a year, we strive to do it 180 days a year.
Ryan McLane is the principal at Big Walnut Intermediate School in Sunbury, Ohio and co-author of the educational book, Your School Rocks...So Tell People.