One of the great annual events on the pedagogical calendar has traditionally been the End-Term Party. Each school had one and almost every staff member attended: teachers, paras, secretaries, clinicians, supervisors, aides, food handlers, custodians. It was a school family affair and everyone was equal without poses of self-importance based on rank. There were no social distinctions among various job descriptions, because everyone realized what a crock these Department of Education-induced walls of separation are.
But the institution of the end-term party seems to have fallen on hard times. Celebration of human solidarity at school has devolved into an obscure concept in recent years, seemingly in relation to the decline in morale and the status of the profession as rendered by the DOE. The moonlight cruise around Manhattan and the catering hall dance extravaganzas are less common and more sparsely attended. Perhaps folks are afraid that the party will be like another Teachers College P.D. at which Kool-Aid will be drunk en masse.
Scientists claim that melting polar ice caps, the fragility of coral reefs and the decline and extinction of species are signs of trouble on earth. In my view the absence of social committees conviviality when not on company time is symptomatic of crisis at school.
Well, ecosystems have enormous powers of recovery from traumatic damage and so have school systems. So if your school has planned an end-term party, attend it. If none is planned, make some spontaneous arrangement. The staff party should be inclusive and not amount to the sum of the school’s cliques.
But wherever it is held, remember these two points: 1) It is the staff’s party; the principal is not in charge of any aspect of it, although she should be invited if she treats the staff decently and is a paid up member of the social committee in good standing; 2) No talking “shop!”