Why Bother With A Classroom Christmas Party?

Why Bother With A Classroom Christmas Party?

 

Every elementary public school teacher I know feels the same way as I do. Our time with our students, one hundred thirty-three days, is short, but our task is great; to bring all of them up to grade level in reading, writing, and arithmetic. 

When a new student registers for the fourth grade in our school, the secretary tells the parents, “You’ll like Mrs. Luikens. She runs a tight ship.” And I do. 

But, one year, a few weeks before Christmas, I heard these words from a parent of one of my students,

“My daughter said to me that she never does anything fun in your class.”

“I guess I’m doing my job.”

“That’s what I told her. I said you were preparing them for the fifth and sixth grade.”

Thankfully, this parent, also an elementary school teacher, understands the profession and the commitment of hard work that goes with it.  But, her daughter’s words made me think that maybe I should deviate, just for a few hours, from the normal schedule of regular learning. Maybe instead of giving them an extra long recess on the last day of school before Christmas break, we could have a Christmas party.

Zero to Hero

I never do anything out of the ordinary without first running it by at least one or two other coworkers. “You will go from zero to hero with your class,” said one. I guess that meant it was a good idea.

 Then, two weeks before the Christmas break, I told my room full of students, “I thought we should plan a Christmas party.” After a moment of silent disbelief, they let out a shout of joy.

Then I listened while they told of some of their family traditions.

“We usually sing Christmas carols.”

“We decorate a tree.”

“We exchange gifts.” 

“My Mom always reads the Christmas story from the Bible.” 

Together we made our plan for our party and it took on the shape similar to that of some of their family’s. One student brought in a little artificial tree and other students brought in ornaments. Small imperfectly wrapped gifts collected near the tree. One student brought in more than one gift and told me, “These are for anybody who doesn’t have one to exchange.”

They helped each other memorize a poem, and cut out snowflakes. We practiced singing carols and read The Best Christmas Pageant Ever. 

The Best Teacher Ever

Then the day of the party arrived. Knowing that I required some work from them before our party could begin, they complied with their normal reluctance. 

But then it came time to put all their work away and we sang carols with glee, recited our poem with pride, and laughed our way through the gift exchange. We ate popcorn, drank hot chocolate and played some games. And then it was over. 

Wishing them a Merry Christmas as they went out the classroom door, I heard, “Mrs. Luikens, that was the best thing you’ve ever done for us.” “Thank you Mrs. Luikens, you are the best teacher.” 

Why bother with a classroom Christmas party? For me it was worth it to go from zero to hero in just a few short hours. 

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