Some teachers spend Sunday evening laying out the clothes they’ll wear for the next week, prepping lunches to make weekday mornings go smoothly, or desperately working to grade those papers they lugged home on Friday. I make cupcakes.
#cupcakemonday started due to the combination of a few suggestions/factors. The story I tell everyone is about the ridiculous number of containers of cupcake liners a friend found in my kitchen cabinets when she was helping me move over the summer. It’s a true story, but it’s not the whole story.
This year was bound to get off to a stressful start. Massachusetts educators, like educators around the country, are having to deal with an enormous wave of new mandates. Educator Evaluation, Common Core State Standards, Sheltered English Immersion Endorsement, PARCC field testing, in addition to new curricula and technology have become the perfect storm threatening to overwhelm educators. They are given no additional time, money or, in most cases, support in order to meet these new requirements.
One would hope that under such circumstances, educators would come together for mutual support and collaboration. Unfortunately, as is so often the case, people who already felt stressed began to turn against one another. My team learned that the hard way early in the year when another team, feeling we weren’t complying with a school rule, went to the principal to report on us. I know they were hoping that this would relieve them from having to do something they didn’t want to be doing but it resulted in a crack-down on the entire school community and finger-pointing at our team. Educators were turning on each other both openly and behind each other’s backs.
When the Sunshine committee (if two teachers can be called a committee) were batting around ideas for cheering people up and improving morale, one teacher mentioned theme days “like Tuesdays could be cupcake days.” There was no way I was going to be baking on Monday nights, but Sundays were a possibility. While weekly theme days never took off, I started bringing in a different type of cupcake every Monday.
Orange Cream, Chocolate Filled, Salted Caramel, Peppermint Marshmallow Buttercream frosted, and a variety of pumpkin recipes have been a few of the cupcakes that have greeted educators at our school each Monday. Instead of dreading Mondays on Sunday nights, I’ve tried my best to focus on bringing cheer to my colleagues on Monday morning. I can’t fix all of the pressures that make their lives difficult, but I can let them know I care. I can try to draw them together, if only for a few minutes, around the table in the teacher’s room. I realize that it’s just a superficial fix, but maybe when we start talking to each other over a cupcake, we can remember the importance of connecting and working together.