DEVOLSON is an acronym I invented to diagnose what is for me and thousands of other teachers the toughest weeks of every academic year: the Dark, Evil Vortex of Late September, October, and November. It’s that time after the shiny newness of the first few weeks has worn off, when fatigue sets in, boundaries get tested, trillions of various forms are due, and there’s no significant break in sight.
But this year, I’m fighting back.
Specifically, I’m fighting back with a DEVOLSON advent calendar! Yes, traditionally advent calendars are associated with Christmastime, but the word “advent” simply refers to the arrival of a notable person, thing, or event. (If you’ve experienced DEVOLSON, you know that it qualifies as notable.) So while this calendar is not counting down to Christmas, it IS counting down to the end of DEVOLSON, Thanksgiving. I’m a big believer in small celebrations, and every day that I make it through another DEVOLSON day without crying is a day worth celebrating, I say.
Here’s how to make yours!
1. Acquire 42 envelopes.
This year I officially declare Monday, September 26th the beginning of DEVOLSON and Tuesday, November 22nd as the end, which is 42 school days all together. (Yours may end earlier or later depending if/when you get out for Thanksgiving break).You’ll need one envelope for each day of DEVOLSON you plan to observe.
2. Label/decorate your envelopes.
You can label them in ascending order by days remaining (like I did), descending order like a countdown, or day of the actual month. I decided to watercolor mine because I’m a fool and didn’t realize how much time/effort it would take. If you’d like to be a fool, too, what I did was use a white oil pastel (crayons also work) to write the number on each envelope, then paint over the number with various watercolors. Presto!
3. Staple the envelopes to a wall in an accessible location.
4. Fill the envelopes.
In each day’s envelope, put some kind of treat, picture, message, or fun task for that day to keep spirits up during DEVOLSON. You can do them all yourself on behalf of your team, but I think it would be way more fun to divide/assign days among a group so you’ve got some surprises in there. Example envelope-fillers: invites to after school hangouts, a scavenger hunt, a race of some kind (first one to solve this crossword puzzle wins a gift card), jokes, links to a funny YouTube, printouts of a meme, a message to check your mailbox or visit a certain teacher for treats, etc.