• 66°

Larry Efird: Christmas: The most wonderful time of the year?

By Larry Efird

Having been in a  school setting during the Christmas holidays for most of the past four decades,  I know there are some sights and sounds of the season that only a teacher could fully understand.  We know how frustrating  life can become in our educational fortresses because they will start to crumble like gingerbread houses if we’re not careful.

The last week before Christmas break can become an all out tug-of-war in the classroom trying to keep kids focused  on exams and  reviews  rather than  excitement and  reindeer.  It’s  clearly us against them to see  who can win the  annual holiday battle for survival.  And one person pitted against 20-30 isn’t  exactly good odds, so it’s no surprise when we come close to  crashing as a result of   their sugar highs, not ours. For that reason, I sometimes do eat candy and keep teaching in self-defense.

Coupled with that is the challenge of a teacher staying focused himself or herself when one knows that most kids already have visions of sugarplums dancing in their heads rather than math equations or poetry recitations.  How is a teacher supposed to compete with visions of non-stop fun?

The best way I’ve found to “handle Christmas” is to enjoy it along with the kids, while in the process keeping to an established routine the best I can.  I don’t know how many times students want to come in and play rather than work, citing their justification as, “because it’s almost Christmas.”  That phrase seems to be a magic formula for dispensing with real life. For some reason, they think Christmas should be celebrated from the time we return from Thanksgiving until the time we dismiss for our much needed winter break(down).

I’ve always enjoyed the holidays — so much so that I like to decorate my classroom. I even decorated my bedroom at home when I was a kid. Yes, I will confess that. (And maybe that’s when I might have realized I was destined to be a teacher because I had bulletin board skills.) Elementary teachers do a much better job than high school teachers at making their rooms festive without a doubt.   But I’ve learned that even high school kids are still “kids” when December rolls around.  They still like a tree and they still like colored lights. Who doesn’t?

There are also times when I see kids displaying their best behavior, not their worst, as they exchange gifts with one another between classes.  Genuine smiles from teenagers are priceless.  They seem to be happier and more open to helping those who are less fortunate as well. My heart is full when I hear National Honor Society members planning how to feed the hungry and how to donate clothing to those who need it.  Watching a Toys for Tots box fill up makes me happier too because it seems we all begin to focus on others and not just on ourselves. 

In the past week, at least five students have asked me what my Christmas plans were. It always catches me off guard when a teenager cares about me and “my” plans. More often than not, students don’t consider that their teachers even have lives, let alone “plans.”   Recently one student told me he had seen a school jacket where he worked that he knew I’d like.  He told me that he wanted to buy it for me but it cost forty dollars.  I told him I wasn’t worth that much, but he was very kind to even consider it. To be honest, just the simple thought he shared with me was as meaningful as the gift would have been.

Another student, who is extremely shy and never speaks above a faint whisper, courageously approached me in the hall with a giant smile on her face and said, “I wrote you a note to thank you for being my teacher, but I lost it somewhere.” I gave her a hug and thanked her for the note I never would receive, but was touched by her sudden burst of self-confidence and the way she communicated her thoughts.

Yes, Christmas can be the most trying time of the year, but it truly can be the most wonderful.  Just ask a teacher.

Efird teaches at A.L. Brown High School in Kannapolis.

Comments

Landis

Landis approves new land development ordinance, zoning map

Landis

Landis approves body camera, stun gun purchase for public safety officers

Crime

One charged, another dead on sheriff’s most wanted list

Crime

No injuries after car shot eight times on Old Concord Road

Education

RSS talks first steps for new federal relief totaling $66 million

China Grove

Gary’s Barbecue staff, customers look back at 50 years

News

Salisbury Lions Club names Person of the Year, Lion of the Year at 78th annual banquet

Education

Student COVID-19 numbers show first decline since plan A

High School

High school golf: Fowler competes in state tournament

News

Amazon announces new distribution center for North Carolina

News

House passes bill to bar Cooper from mandating COVID shot

Coronavirus

Rowan County sees death 302 from COVID-19; Health Department to host final mass vaccine clinic

Ask Us

Ask Us: What happened to work on South Fulton Street home?

Crime

Blotter: Woman says she was shot in hand on Lincolnton Road

Crime

Rowan Sheriff’s Office charges Salisbury man with operating illegal gambling business

Crime

Blotter: Rockwell man arrested on felony drug, breaking and entering charges

Local

Rep. Amber Baker discusses legislative session during Rowan Democrats breakfast meeting

Local

Thousands of locals, out-of-towners gather for a groovy time at annual Hippie Fest

News

N.C. Zoo ready for expansion if lawmakers OK funding

Education

RSS budgeting for tens of millions in federal COVID-19 relief funding

East Spencer

‘Back in full swing’ for the spring: East Spencer community gathers for food, fun and fellowship at Spring Fest

Local

Rowan native Lingle among those honored with NC Military Veterans Hall of Fame induction

Business

Former pro baseball player, Tar Heel standout Russ Adams finds new career with Trident Insured

Education

Profoundly gifted: Salisbury boy finishing high school, associates degree at 12