In this viral meme posted on X by principal and author Dwayne Reed, Reed declares his support for teachers who want to provide fun experiences for students. And he should support them. After all, parties, movies, and games can foster a love for school.

The administrative micromanagement that takes enjoyment out of the classroom and requires robotic implementation of standards and curriculum harms students the most.

Please don’t take the joy out of school: it’s just not right.

“All about the kids…”?

We frequently hear you say, “It’s all about the kids.” But is it really? It seems that it’s all about the test scores. We beat information into the brains of our students in order for them to regurgitate it appropriately while they sit in a very sterile environment, eyes focused on tiny print test questions on computer screens.

Is it all about the kids when we frequently change curriculums to substandard materials that require uniform implementation across classrooms in various districts? What happened to students having varying needs and using different methods of instruction to accommodate these needs? How can every classroom teach the same thing at the same time and simultaneously implement differentiation?

“It’s all about the kids” rings a little hollow when you take away every fun activity that children will remember for the rest of their lives.

Positive rewards motivate kids.

When you (admin) come strolling in with your clipboards when Finding Nemo is playing for a popcorn movie reward, we feel like we should go spread eagle with our hands behind our backs because we have just committed a serious crime. 

When I was in school, we played kickball all Friday afternoon. You know the only thing I remember about elementary school? Playing kickball all Friday afternoon.

The parties, recess, games, and movies are where lifelong memories are made. If you genuinely trust us, you would know that Fun Fridays for movies or games are effective student motivators. Sometimes having them is the only positive behavioral strategy that truly works.

These activities are not a waste of precious academic minutes. In fact, it is during these activities when some of the most important learning takes place. Soft skills like cooperation and risk-taking are learned through sports and other team-building games. These lessons will stay with kids for a long time.

A balance of fun activities and hard work leads to creativity and fosters a motivation to acquire new concepts. The two can work hand in hand.

Fun has long-term benefits.

We know the benefits of recess, and we know the benefits of play. Research study after research study has told us how important it is to allow students the opportunity to connect with their peers in an unstructured environment.

Additonally, trusting teachers with the amount of recess or fun activities they provide does wonders for staff morale and relationship building. Research has shown that teachers who experience less stress and have supportive classroom environments have students who engage more with learning and also have more positive social and emotional traits.

 In the long run, this leads to higher test scores overall. That’s what you want, isn’t it?

Trust goes a long way.

You see, it is not only about recess, and it’s not only about the ability to show a movie once in a while or having fun with our students. It is the freedom to know that our choices are respected, valued, and free from judgment.

It is knowing completely that our administration has our back and supports our knowledge of students’ developmental needs. We truly do know our students best, and we shouldn’t feel like we have done something illegal when you walk in and we are showing Bill Nye.

It is important for administrators to recognize that teachers are skilled professionals whose insights should be acknowledged and valued. When this happens, the overall climate becomes relaxed and refreshing instead of tense and negative.

Dear admin, don't take the fun out of school