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Teach Like it’s Christmas

by Professor Joe Martin

When it comes to teaching, I’m often criticized for my unbridled enthusiasm. I’ve been accused of being “child-like” and somewhat “giddy” at the start of every new school year.

While most teachers moan and groan about how short their summer was and how long the school year will be, I’m called the “weird one” because I think the summer is too long and the school year is too short.

After I prove to my colleagues I’m not on drugs, I explain to them the reason for my unbelievable joy.

First of all, I explain to them (other educators) that we’re not just teachers. I tell them, “We get paid to unwrap OTHER people’s gifts.” Allow me to explain.




If you are fortunate enough to have children of your own (or you’ve at least been a child ), you’ve more than likely witnessed the anticipation a child feels on Christmas Eve. Now ask yourself, “Why is that?” How come children are more restless on Christmas Eve than any other day of the year – including their birthday or the day before a dental appointment?

It’s quite obvious, because children can’t wait to open their gifts on Christmas morning. The hope of getting something they’ve prayed for the entire year or better yet, what they least expected, causes the endorphins to jump in their bodies like a hyperactive bunny rabbit. And who could blame them? They didn’t pay any money for the expected gift, and they get to enjoy it all year as long as they take care of it and don’t break it. I think you see where I’m headed with this.

Well, the night before every new school year, I get to be a child again by re-living Christmas Eve. I know the parents have wrapped their gifts (children) as beautifully as they possibly could, and they’ve chosen to share their gifts with me (and you). And when I arrive on the first day of school, I have approximately 25 to 30 gifts waiting for me – just waiting to be opened. And they’re ALL mine. And as long as I take care of them and don’t break them, I get to enjoy each gift for a full year. Who can’t get excited about that?

However, the one thing I must be aware of is that I can’t judge the gifts in my class by the wrapping paper. Although their parents are sending me the best gifts they have (trust me, they’re not keeping the good ones home), I must be sensitive enough to know that some gifts are wrapped tightly, been mishandled, discarded, been returned, and even arrive “special delivery.” But the point is, they are still gifts to be treasured and appreciated, and that excites me.

So, if my enthusiasm at the beginning of the new school year bothers you, take a look in the mirror. Because we’re the only profession in the world that gets Christmas TWICE a year, and we get PAID for it. What a job!

As always, keep the passion, and remember to practice what you teach!


Joe Martin is an award-winning national speaker, author, professor, and educational consultant. His mission is to help students, teachers, and administrators learn, lead, and live with purpose and passion. To find out more visit his web site at


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