Pitching the Holiday Pomp

I’m a fan of baseball. (For those of you who just rolled your eyes, please hang in there. This is not a post about baseball.) One of my favorite pitches is the knuckleball. Unlike the somewhat misnamed curveball, the knuckleball is surely a pitch that, at least for the batter, is supremely unpredictable. When I lived in a classroom, I tried to be a little like the knuckleball and keep my students guessing day-to-day, week-to-week, year-to-year. This unpredictability came right down to my choice of holiday decorations in my room.

Of course, as a matter of practice, I believe it’s contrary to running an organized classroom to be too unpredictable. Routine is essential. Within that routine, I tried to never let the energy level approach within seven thousand yards of dull. My holiday decorations reflected that. Manny the Singing Menorah, for example, was a huge hit the third year I taught. Creating unexpected patterns with Christmas lights hanging on fishing line below ceiling level was also a hit. So, too, was the multicolored phantasm of lights on my lectern in my second year (when I still spent a lot of time at my tall, narrow lectern).

Of course, I also relied upon the old standards, the tried-and-true. Snowpals, cutout paper snowflakes, candles (never actually lit), classroom displays made with wrapping paper, and lots of red and green everywhere. And, of course, at the end of the day or during quiet study sessions, the kinds of holiday tunes even my students’ parents might not recognize, whether they be modern takes on timeless classics or purely modern, alternative seasonal songs (e.g. everything from Perry Como’s “It’s Beginning to Look a Lot Like Christmas” to the LeeVees “Jewish Girls at the Matzoh Ball”).

Now it’s your turn. When it comes to December decorations, do you throw a straight fastball in your classroom? Do you, too, throw the elusive knuckleball? Or are holiday celebrations banned outright?

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