Welcome to day 2 of our #Save FACS series. If you didn’t read my first post in this series, let me summarize my plan for this blog from now until FACS Founder Day, December 3. I plan to share a suggestion each day for capitalizing on the recent support that’s been given to the “bring back home ec” movement. It’s probably a little early to use the term movement to describe what we’re experiencing, but we’ll call it that for lack of a better term. If you haven’t already read the #Save FACS post, I hope you’ll do so. It contains some important background and context for our future discussions.
If you came to this blog expecting all of my suggestions to be very serious and profound, you will probably be a little surprised by today’s post. During my 32 years teaching FACS, I found that nothing got my students’ attention any better than doing something unexpected. In fact, I still hear from former students that one of the things they liked best about my classes was the fact that they never quite knew what to expect when they came to class. That philosophy is behind what I’d like to suggest to you for this Thursday, which just happens to be Halloween. Don’t be afraid, it’s going to be fun! Trust me!
In my opinion, one of the biggest obstacles we have to overcome if we’re going to see FACS programs retained and expanded is to strip away our cloak of invisibility. We know that we’re doing good and important work and for the most part our students know it, too. But what about the world outside our classrooms? Do your administrators, school board and community give much consideration to what goes on in your classroom?
One of the most important areas where we as FACS professionals can improve is in the way we market our programs. Wonderful things go on in FACS classrooms all across the country every day but too often we forget that we need to promote our programs to our communities just like any other business. Marketing is the lifeblood of every business—no matter how big or how small. Today’s suggestion, if you choose to implement it, will give you something to shake up the image of you and your FACS program and also something memorable you can market to your community.
Okay, enough for the build up. Here’s what I want you to do. I suggest that you dress up as Ellen Swallow Richards (Refer to #Save FACS post, if you don’t know who she is.) for Halloween and conduct your class in character as Ellen. The costume is an easy one to pull together. Think Mary Poppins and you’ll be pretty close to the right period. Here are a few quick tips for pulling together an Ellen-worthy costume.
- Start with a long full skirt or fashion a skirt from a rectangular piece of fabric. You’re FACS professionals! Do I really need to give you instructions for doing this? I didn’t think so. LOL
- Add a blouse with full or puffed sleeves to the skirt to complete the basic outfit. A piece of lace pinned with a broach or cameo at the neck of the blouse would be a nice period touch.
- Add a petticoat, if you have one. Adding a bib apron over the top of the skirt and blouse would be very Ellen-ish. I always picture Ellen dressed for action, so it would likely be out of character to dress too fancy.
- Finish off the outfit with some plain black shoes and black tights and you’re all set.
Now you have your costume, so let the fun begin. You’ll probably want to engage the services of a couple of students to help you make the most of this teachable moment. First of all, the students are probably not going to know who Ellen Swallow Richards is. I’ve created an activity called What Have You Done For Me Lately? to make students aware of the impact that Ellen’s accomplishments have on their daily lives. Ask one of the students or another faculty member to conduct the activity with the class. At the end of that activity, students will be on their feet, making it the perfect time to ask someone to introduce you to the class as you enter in costume. That student could even lead the class in a round of applause as you enter! Ellen is a very important historical figure, after all, so applause would not be inappropriate!
I’ve written a short script in press conference format for you and your student volunteers. The title of the script is The Essence of Ellen and it’s written as a Q & A covering the topics of nutrition and food preparation, FACS, and home management. Feel free to add to or eliminate any of the questions or rearrange their order. You have my permission to take poetic license with everything except the facts and words of Ellen Swallow Richards. I have also provided a handout titled A Life With Global Impact that you can use as a handout for students or simply as background for your own use.
Finally, I would suggest that you give each student a snack-size treat to enjoy following the presentation. Kids will do anything for food and after all it is Halloween and this is supposed to be fun! Don’t get too serious about the whole thing! Remember that the purpose of the activity is to educate and leave a positive impression. You might also guide students through an examination of the wrapper on their treats, emphasizing that the food labeling laws that govern what appears on that label are a product of the research conducted by Ellen Swallow Richards.
Now I know that this suggestion is probably not what you were expecting from this blog series, but let me give you some ideas of how this activity can be used to promote your FACS program.
- Events that catch us by surprise are ones that we remember and talk about. If done well, your Halloween portrayal of Ellen Swallow Richards can garner a lot of positive attention in the school. Students who may never have considered signing up for a FACS course might even consider doing so in the future.
- Snap some fun photos of you and your student volunteers and submit a story with photos to your local newspaper. As a matter of fact, you might ask your student helpers to dress in costume as well.
- Submit your photos and story to your school website.
- Video your event and submit it to YouTube.
- Invite your school administrator to sit in on one of your classes and participate in the event.
- Get the local historical society involved in helping to create your costume and invite them to attend a presentation, as well.
The overall goal of this activity is to get some attention for you and your FACS program! Step out of your comfort zone and shake up your image. It can be great fun!
The handouts referenced in this post will be available for free download on our website after 6:00 PM Central time today.
Go to www.freshfacs.com and scroll to the Pinteresting Projects and then select the project entitled The Essence of Ellen. Thanks for your patience!
Don’t forget to share your photos and classroom experiences from your day as Ellen! We’ll share them on Facebook and Twitter. Happy Halloween!