If you are a product of the American school system, then one of your fondest memories from elementary or middle school is probably a Halloween party. This is the case for many people. Why wouldn’t it be? There’s candy, friends, and a little time off from the daily monotony of school during class hours. These celebrations were some of my fondest memories, which is what makes it so tragic that Halloween has become my least favorite holiday.
When you are a student in school, you often don’t think about what it is like from a teacher’s perspective. But now that I am a teacher, I can say unequivocally that Halloween is the worst. There is not only one reason that Halloween is terrible … there are many. Every year, all these issues combine together like Voltron to make teaching miserable for about a week and a half.
Let’s go through everything that makes Halloween terrible for teachers: Starting with the build-up.
The build-up to Halloween virtually ensures that you will hate it. Even though Halloween comes at the same time every year, someone always has the idea to throw a Halloween party about a week before. Of course, this kind of event requires work from teachers and every veteran teacher hates Halloween, but nobody wants to be the one to say it. So, every year like clockwork, the week before Halloween you can bank on having to do some last-minute work to throw a celebration you don’t even want to have.
The other scenario is where teachers are responsible for what goes on in their own individual class and you are pressured to have a party because the other teachers are doing so. If you still decide to opt out, you will learn that parents and students alike have become entitled to such celebrations over the years, and you will hear about it. Either of those two scenarios is undesirable.
Then, there are the costumes. Managing the messaging around the costumes is awkward. Most schools have limits on costumes and props. Telling kids they can’t be something offensive or bring a chainsaw for their Jason costume typically elicits a negative response from parents who spent money on the costumes before checking to see what was allowed.
And as if the kids and their costumes weren’t enough, chances are you will be bullied into joining an ensemble costume in which you are forced to be a minor character from children’s movie or TV show. So you get to spend money on costume you would never choose for yourself, and only makes sense in the context of group costume … all to satisfy someone’s social media page.
Then, let’s not forget the worst part: The Candy. If candy were currency, then the influx of candy from October 31st would be enough to collapse the economy of a small country … and certainly a school. In the weeks following Halloween, it is near impossible to enforce any kind of rules about eating in class, and impossible to keep gum off the bottom of your desks.
To make matters worse, unlike with other holiday distractions, there is no day off from school to sweeten the deal.
I really wish that I could get into the spirit of Halloween the way the students do. I wish I could enjoy it the way I did when I was a kid. But for me and many other teachers, it is a weeklong distraction and hassle. These gripes don’t matter as much this year because of COVID-19 restrictions. So if you long for the normal of over the top Halloween parties thrown at school for your children, take a minute to appreciate their teachers who make themselves miserable every October in order to make that happen.