This article was written by Andy McCall. Andy is in his 9th year teaching, and does everything to honor his little girl, Penelope, who passed last year. Check him out on his Blog or on Facebook: Penelope's Path.
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Not that any teacher can tell you how long it is until Thanksgiving break (2 days), or how many school days are left until winter break (20 days), there are also certain things that only happen around this time of year. Teachers can sense when it's going to be a full moon. Even brand new teachers can tell you when the weather is changing. For most of us, we don’t need watches, calendars, or even the old lady down the street telling us something is coming. We can usually tell when the holidays are upon us, just by looking around the classroom.
While these might not be as accurate as your dad’s arthritic elbow predicting the rain, teachers can just about judge the time of year by these 10 simple things. So put your smart phones, watches, and iPads away, and look no further than the hallways of your school.
1. Kids' clothes
Kindergarteners show up in matching holiday garb. The reindeer look about as exhausted as the teachers at the end of the day, but you know it is that time of year when the leggings match the shirt, which matches the hairbow, which matches the monogrammed backpack.
2. Baked goods
These little bags of wonderment show up on the corner of your desk a little more frequently. Some of them look like they came straight out of Southern Living, while the others look like someone swept them off the floor with the same book. You simply give that smile and “Oh thank you, it looks so good! I’ll have them during planning!” (aka "I'll hide them under the papers I didn’t grade, in the trash can").
3. That creepy elf is everywhere
I don’t care who you are, that thing is creepy. I know it is holiday time when I hear, “Mr. McCall, Joey showed up at our house last night and is going to be watching me to see if I’m good!” Well kid, Joey is going to tell Santa you pick your nose whether the teacher is looking at you or not, and he doesn’t have enough time to tell Santa how many times you didn't write your name on your paper. Good luck with that.
4. Lost and Found
At the start of the year, you don't find many things in your school lost and found. Maybe a water bottle or a random kid's shoe from the bus line. But when winter hits, it turns into the clearance aisle at Kmart. You can find everything in that pile. Those kids better be glad I don’t wear a youth medium or I’d have a new coat for every day of the year.
5. Christmas recitals
Little snowmen and angels. Christmas trees and donkeys. Whatever the play, program, or rehearsal of the week, it seems like you get invited to everything. I usually make it to one (the required one from school), but the holiday season just isn't complete without little Johnny dressed up as Christmas Kid #3, knocking over the streetlight at your local gymnasium.
6. Jersey change
I’m not talking about all these professional athletes that should give back to their teachers for helping them be able to read and sign their checks (Hint, Hint), but the kids that wear them. Look around your school. Football and soccer jerseys have turned to basketball jerseys. Whoever's the star player of this season, you best believe these kids have their new jersey. Those football jerseys they begged their parents to buy them in August, are now sitting in the back of the closet until next season.
7. Coffee gets bigger (and colder more quickly)
You notice yourself pouring more and more coffee. You had this cute little new cup you found this summer and used it every day, but now that it's winter time, and there are things like Peppermint Mocha and Christmas cookie creamers, it's a new ball game. With the clocks going back and finals around the corner, you're now pouring it in a half-rinsed Big Gulp cup from 7/11, and refilling it by the time 2nd period hits.
I’m not talking about the noises your stomach makes sitting in a quiet room during a timed test, but the ones your students make. The "Ums" and "I don’t knows" are now preceded by a cough that sounds like chunks of a lung are about to come up with it. You can almost see the viruses swirling around your room with each cough, dancing like fairies with the Lysol disinfectant you just sprayed in the air.
9. Classroom supplies
You started the year asking for pencils and notebooks. You're now writing letters home and posting on Twitter, desperate crying out for tissues and hand sanitizer. You're currently rationing it out like porridge in the movie Annie, and the bottom of the box is in sight. You don’t even care if they write with crayon, just don’t get snot all over the test!
10. Hot flashes
Your back-to-school wardrobe is now covered in dry erase marker and ketchup, so you're just going with whatever you pull out of the unfolded laundry pile, at this point. You dress ready for the arctic wind, but then they actually decide to turn on the heating, and you can’t get those layers off fast enough. It’s like a chess match with the thermostat in your room.