One Day Events Don’t Solve Everyday Problems

By ColbyOtero.com http://bit.ly/oLGa0b

Anti-Bullying Day, Earth Day, Aboriginal Day,…

These, and many others, are important days to help raise awareness around wrong-doings that occur in our schools and society.  What we MUST be aware of is that just because we participate in these one day events does NOT mean that we have committed to change.  Change needs to happen each and every day in our schools and throughout our communities.

If we continue to need these days year after year, are we making enough progress?  Will there be a time when these days are NOT needed?  Change is slow but should we not have the expectation that the way we treat each other improves more rapidly?

I DO see the purpose of the one day events, school wide speakers, honouring ceremonies, etc but we need to be careful if we think that just because we have discussions around these issues on this day, we are going to create the needed change.  The most powerful actions are those that occur in the days/years following these events.

If the only thing we do to end bullying is wear a Pink Shirt on Anti-Bullying day, our society is in trouble.  We need to model respectful behaviour every day and encourage change by continually helping both the victims, bystanders and the bullies understand the impact of their behaviours.

Two years ago, our grade 2’s told us that “Earth Day is every day” and they modeled this with their class compost and recycling (and reduction) program as well as their awareness of the benefits of growing their own food.  As a school, we have done “litterless lunch days” but then continued on with our same (often wasteful, consuming) behaviours following these days.  Yes, the day did get people talking but I am not sure that it created the needed change.

Today, an admin colleague and I stated (paraphrased) “If we think we embrace First Nation Culture just because we participate in Aboriginal Day each year, we are doing our students a disservice… culture of ALL our students needs to be embedded in our lessons every day.”  Many of us participate in surface level activities that demonstrate equity and respect but are we having the deeper, needed dialogue around the impact of our Western values on other cultures?  Are we creating change every day so that ALL our students have a more equitable opportunity for success, regardless of race or culture?

Many schools are hosting Identity Day fairs that provide students with an opportunity to showcase who they are.  In schools, do we continually honour and provide students with opportunities to develop and showcase their passions or do we merely award select students at the end of the year? Are our students more aware of their strengths and what they can do or their deficits and what they cannot?

We need to continue t0 honour and celebrate who we are and where we come from throughout the year. There are awareness and celebratory days in which we should be participating but if we look to a one day event to create the needed major change and solve problems that occur every day, we need to ask ourselves… what are we doing to create this change every other day of the year?

Anybody can work to create change by doing something for a single day… but this is never enough.  We must ‘be the change’ EVERY day.


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Chris Wejr

Proud father of twin girls and a son. Currently working as the Principal of Shortreed Elementary School (K-5) in Aldergove, BC, Canada. Passionate about instruction, strengths-based education and leadership, reconciliation, assessment, and human motivation.


  1. Chris, a great response to the “work” involved in making significant and long lasting change.

    Change is not a one-time, one event goal but a process of engagement around moral purpose and identity. Our challenge as leaders (and I think one of the greatest things about our jobs) is to foster meaningful change within the context of human relationships.

    Sometimes, I think that these one off, one day events are driven for some by zeal and for others by guilt. Regardless, what needs to be done is to transform the spectacular into the ‘expected’ ordinary (there is more richness in this). And within our focus on the “single day”, we also initiate “the change” by engaging deeply in each single conversation we have and each single decision we make.

    Thanks for sharing – looking forward to catch up with your blog

  2. Thanks for bringing this to light in a post, Chris!

    I recognize that these designated days are meant to raise awareness intially, but it would be my hope that the goal would be to have them not needed at all.

    I have always had this nagging feeling about such days, but it is hard to know what to express so as not to offend, or be misunderstood, or come across negative about whatever the day is about.

    That is great about your message, eg. “Earth Day is every day”. The message of continuous importance needs to be there to support the real change that such days could bring about.

    I have seen some schools recognize one character education value each month by including it the context of the classroom and curriculum and honouring a few students who demonstrated that value that month. I often felt I was the only one who saw a down side to it. I guess it had some impact and goodness to it with a longer time frame, but again, that nagging feeling….

    Thanks for articulating this and helping my own thoughts around these one day events.

  3. It’s definitely important not to make recognizing these important facets of our lives and work into one-shot-and-done celebrations. I think, though, sometimes the idea of Identity Day or #noofficeday is enough to spark an awareness in others about the purpose of such a “day” and how it can apply to one’s work with students.

    For example, I was initially uncomfortable with the use of the No Office Day label and promoting certain days of the month to honor it, etc., because as we all know, administrators should be visible and working with teachers and kids every single day. The more I thought about it, I decided it might be a nice wake-up call for those administrators who DON’T make it a priority to get out of their offices and spend time with students, so it definitely won’t do any harm to promote and celebrate.

    Like you said, we need to ask ourselves, “What are we doing to create this change every other day of the year?”

    Nice post!

  4. “If we continue to need these days year after year, are we making enough progress? Will there be a time when these days are NOT needed?” Human nature is such that our work will never be done; to think otherwise, to think we could ever irradicate wrongs entirely would be to seriously err. This is not to say that we should not strive for justice; rather to say we should be ever vigilant, and never rest on our laurels thinking the job is accomplished – for it never will be. We will ALWAYS have work to do to fully realize the dignity of each human being.

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