There are certain days in the school year that are tough for teachers: class photo day, the last day of school, Valentine’s Day, concert dress rehearsal day, and the dreaded report-cards-go-home day. I guess it’s because the kids are out of their routine or expecting something different. The days with indoor recesses and lunches can push teachers to their limits, and windy days are often the toughest. (When it’s windy, the kids become a bit “possessed.” That’s a whole other blog post.)
None is as awful as Halloween.
I admit I’m a Halloween Scrooge. My years as a classroom teacher ruined the occasion for me. Halloween seems to go on for days at school, and the kids are in some kind of candy daze that affects their behaviour and efficiency in the classroom and on the playground.
The anticipation of the big day is part of the problem. It’s all that planning, the decorations, the pumpkin carving, the school trips, the morning announcements with scary music, and the ton of sugar-laden recess snacks that find their way into young mouths.
The actual day of Halloween is crazy, no matter what age: the parade for the primaries, the class parties for the juniors, and the dance for the middle school kids. Candy, makeup and wigs, costumes and props, and all that role-playing bringing characters to life makes the school a crazy place! The energy level is higher than ever and kids take liberties because they are “in character.”
A handful of kids always show up with weapons for props or inappropriate masks. Seeing teachers dressed up gives kids permission to act in a different way toward adults — people they normally respect or fear!
And then there is the post-Halloween exhaustion. The lack of focus. The candy highs and then lows. And the candy litter, everywhere.
I’m sounding very Scrooge-like. Maybe even Grinch-ish? But you see I have my reasons. What is a favourite day of the year for some, for others like me, I count the minutes till it’s over!
During the Halloween season, I feel for my colleagues in the front lines. I know that out of this occasion comes many teachable moments and fun memories. Most importantly, I know how much all the kids LOVE every second – that’s what really matters. But, when I blow out the candles on the jack-o-lantern at my house, I’ll sigh in relief that most of the hassle is over…..just the huge bags of candy and costume remnants will remain at our house.
To my teacher colleagues, I wish you a good Halloween week, with much energy and sanity.