Teaching in December: It’s Beginning to Look A Lot Like Chaos

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author image_Erin HThis article was written by Erin Hennigan. She is her 14th year of teaching in both public and privates schools in California and Texas.  She's learned that kids are kids regardless of their background. All kids need and want the same things from their teachers: to be challenged, to be cared about, and to be able to develop their own voice. Connect with her on Instagram.

Joy to the world and all that crap. For teachers, November and the first 2 weeks in December mean darker skies, deeper sighs, and bigger thighs. Holidays for teachers are about survival. It all starts come November 1st. Scratch that. The race to winter break begins on October 31st. Halloween brings sugar highs and crazy costumes. Come December, an Irish coffee in the morning becomes more and more tempting. Here's why...

The Holiday Program

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When I "volunteered" for the school's holiday program, I had no idea what I'd gotten myself into. Dressing up in green felt after age 10 is not an attractive look. My "costume" made me look more like Shrek reluctantly dressed up as Santa. Our song was noise, and our cheer came from beer. Just kidding, I would never drink on the job, well not yet. While the holiday show was adorable, it was more of a time investment than I anticipated. The kids worked hard, and their performances were impressively comedic. Then best was when a middle schooler came on stage covered in white powder from her Christmas beignet. Her character just left New Orleans on a Christmas road trip. Her line was, “I can't wait to have a churro in and around my mouth.” I almost lost it.

Sweets, Sweets, and More Sweets

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Calories don’t count from November to January, as every student accomplishment is a call for a celebration in the teachers’ lounge. All of your kids turned in the homework? Time to turn up with an apple turnover. Did your kids make it to 9:00 am without touching each other? Let's get things poppin in the teacher's lounge with some snowman cake pops. I don’t even like pumpkin pie, but somehow it ends up on my shirt by 11:45 because I’ve once again forgotten my lunch, so I find myself stuffing my already chubby face with pumpkin pie and a side of candy canes.

The Chaos

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Waiting for the last jingle bell to ring come mid-December feels like Groundhog day-the same day over and over again. I wake up at 6 am, throw on something clean -or something that LOOKS clean. I go through my daily questions: Will it be cold or in the 80s? Can I wear this wrinkled dress? Did I wear this outfit already this week? Do I have to bathe? Can I get away with not washing my hair one more day? Don't oversleep or you may have to take a "hoe bath" or as most of my students call a bath. Arrive at school. Fill your coffee cup. Rush to class. Repeat the same instructions 11 times before lunch. Pass out the review for the final exam for the umpteenth time. Inhale some peanut butter cookies that someone left in the lounge. Pour another glass of coffee because your other cup got cold and you never had a sip. Check the clock. 45 more minutes left in the day. You made it till 3:00. That means nothing since you don't go home until after 5:00.

Endless Cycle

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Take off your bra. Ask yourself if it's too early to have a glass of wine. Tell yourself you had a hard day so you deserve to reward yourself with gold stars in the form of chardonnay. Fall asleep on the couch at 6:30 in the evening. Wake up at 9:00 wondering what day it is. Eat leftovers. Check your email. Crawl into bed. Fall asleep by 10:45. Dream about every problematic student you've ever had all in one class. Wake up screaming. Toss and turn until your alarm goes off at 6 AM. Repeat. Forget doing any personal shopping before school ends on December 15th. You will have plenty of time to stress about gifts during your break. Christmas break can be a rest, or it could be a full-blown breakdown. I'm planning on both. What about you?


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  • Monica

    I loved this E! Great Job. I am very proud of you!

  • Nicohle

    This article is awesome and accurate! Thanks Erin for telling it how it is! You rock!

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