1. Education is about each child’s journey. Kids will take you on a long adventure, through the seven layers of the candy cane forest and through the sea of twirly, swirly gumdrops. Be patient and be intentional, so that when your student’s journey is done they are empowered to handle the big city and are not found picking gum off hand railings or waving back to someone who is hailing a cab.
2. Get kids out in the real world. Buddy never learned how to be around people and other people never learned how to be around Buddy until he got out in the real world. Get your kids out there, work through the growing pains, and nurture other’s growing understanding of them. We all have small quirks, and sometimes it is us in the real world who need to change our thinking to see how everyone fits.
3. Nobody is a Cotton-Headed Ninny Muggins. All students have strengths and challenges, and if we only focus on what they can’t do then that is all they will talk about. Identify where and how your kids can thrive with their skill sets. Buddy was a terrible toy maker at the North Pole, but given the opportunity to decorate a department store in New York not only did he do a wonderful job, he made new friends. Find ways for your student’s strengths to lead them to new social opportunities.
4. Communicate Change. When Buddy learned that someone was subbing for Santa, it was more than he could handle. Sometimes we can alleviate a great deal of stress for others by clearly communicating small changes that we are making in day. This keeps students and staff aware and our lego infrastructures safe.
5. Team up and win! When needing help with sensory strategies, find your building occupational therapist. When needing help with a student who struggles to communicate, track down your speech and language pathologist. And when needing help in a snow ball fight, call an elf. When we work from our strengths we all do what comes natural and we as teams win for kids.
6. Take in a well balanced diet. The four main food groups of the elves are candy, candy canes, candy corns, and syrup. When working with others, take criticism constructively, but spend your life fully digesting all of the sweet things people send your way. It will fuel you to stay as happy as an elf through any adversity.
7. Treat Every Day like Christmas. Every day can be the greatest day for every kid. It is not determined by the number on the calendar, it is determined by one, a few, or many to make today the best day ever. Don’t hold back on giving, living, and spreading your gifts to all.
8. “What’s your favorite color?” Buddy wastes no time in getting to know someone, even when answering the phone. When you take the time to authentically get to know your students, their interests and their strengths, you begin to build a relationship that is enjoyable and sustainable.
9. There’s room for everyone on the nice list. When we ensure every kid gets our best attitude, our positive relationship, and our high five, handshake, or smile in the morning regardless of previous behavior, we create environments where kids can grow. Be careful not to inadvertently place kids on other lists in your mind. The gifts that you receive back may not be as pleasant.
10. The best way to spread Christmas cheer is singing loudly for all to hear. And so it goes for our students. The more we sing their praises for their great work, the more they will begin to believe. Just like with Santa’s Sleigh, with enough cheer from enough people they can truly soar.