I'm back! And I wanted to share some of my favorite Christmas moments as a teacher.
* Some very generous people in the community donated enough Christmas goodies to fill a backpack for each of the students at my school. It was so much fun watching my class open their backpacks and find loads of gifts and treats inside.
* I also gave each of my students a little gift, wrapped and tied with ribbon. They all opened their gifts at the same time and began to squeal and pump their air with their fists. You would have thought they'd won the lottery, but it was just a box of colored pencils. I passed the desk of one of the girls in my class and noticed that she hadn't opened her present yet. I thought she wanted to take it home to put it under the Christmas tree.
"Are you waiting until Christmas to open your gift?" I asked.
She looked at me for a minute and then said, "It won't open."
Then I realized that she hadn't opened her gift yet because she didn't know how. She had never unwrapped a package in her life. I showed her how to turn the present over, slide her finger under the tape, and pull the wrapping paper apart. When she could see the colored pencils peeking out from the paper, she looked at me with a giant smile on her face. "Cool!" she said.
* Santa Claus came to visit every class in the school about a week before Christmas. He caught us while we were practicing for the Christmas sing-a-round. He reminded the students to be good, told them that all the teachers had his email address, and even let one of the third graders pull his beard! It was 100% real. My favorite part was his District ID tag - it read 'Santa Claus.'
*My students loved working with the sound of Christmas music in the background. It kept them focused and quiet, except for when they decided to sing along. Every time they'd spontaneously break out with Frosty the Snowman or Santa Claus is Coming to Town, I had to chuckle.
*To celebrate the holiday, the entire school gathered in the gym and each grade took turns singing two Christmas songs for the rest of the student body. This is a yearly tradition, and such a fun way to celebrate as a school. I played the piano for the third graders, and when I did, one of my students sat next to me on the piano bench. He asked if he could play with me, and I made a deal with him that he could play the last note of each of the two songs we were singing. At the end of each song, I pointed to the note he should play, and he played it with gusto.
* One of my students paid a dollar in the office to buy me a chocolate almond candy bar. He even wrapped it in Christmas paper and placed it under our classroom Christmas tree. When I opened it, I said, "Chocolate almond? That's my favorite!" He sheepishly smiled, and said, "I know."
* I read a picture book of The Twelve Days of Christmas to my class. One of my students pointed out that "it's a song, too, you know," and requested that I sing the book instead of read it. I did, and some of the students joined in. One student in the front row, who is usually rambunctious, sang every single word of the song with me at the top of his lungs.