Around February, it becomes apparent that I have done my job quite well. They do feel welcome. They do feel loved. They do feel comfortable. Perhaps a bit too comfortable. (Let's face it--they are ready to complete take over the entire school!) That's when it's time to bring them back to reality. It's time for the Elegant Party.
For the week prior to the party, we focus on manners. We read books. We have discussions. We do projects. We even practice. We learn that manners are how we show the world we care about them and their feelings. Suddenly, there are a lot more "pleases" and "thank yous" floating around the room. There's more assistance during clean up times and more door being held open. Tattling is replaced with reports of the good manners they see in each other.
And, finally, the day of the party arrives. They come dressed up in their "elegant" clothing and sit at their "elegant" table to demonstrate their "elegant" manners. Some even demonstrate their "elegant" dancing skills. They laugh and giggle, but they are also polite and sweet. It is one of my most favorite days of the year.
I'm not foolish enough to believe that this party will change their behaviors for the rest of the school year, but maybe--just maybe--they'll remember a please or thank you every now and then.