Light Up the Holidays with Teaching

Kristen KoppersBlog, Engage Better, Lesson Plan Better


  • Lesson planning in advance can be a way to express your creative side by collaborating and researching.
  • Setting up holiday lights has many parallels to teaching and lesson planning. Students should be part of the design.

With the holidays just around the corner, it brings out the spirit in most people.

The fall season brings out the candles (yes, even the Pumpkin Spice) and the fireplace is on. This is when it starts to get busy around our house. No, it’s not the grading of assignments or answering emails. It’s not even the last-minute lesson plans that take up most nights and weekends in early October through mid-November. 

For the past nine years, my husband and I have created a magical display of lights and sound to an amazing show that always starts the day after Thanksgiving. However, this is not done in one day. In fact, it takes months to prepare for and plan as we start the lights on the house. With thousands of lights on the house alone, it takes time to check and place each light where it needs to be. This is not an easy process. But when the lights are on, it definitely brings out the holiday spirit.

This is how I view teaching. It is more than just a simple design. It was a way to be more innovative, creative, and improve the ways students learn. Click To Tweet

In fact, it lights up the night sky.

This 25 foot mega light tree has over 20,000 lights on it to light up the night.

This reminds me of how to plan my lessons throughout the year. I know what classes I will be teaching in early August. This gives me a chance to pre-plan my lessons for each unit and change any plans that might not have been effective in the previous years. Lesson planning, in a way, is a calming moment for me. For others, they would see me as stressed trying to plan two to three weeks in advance. But for me, it’s a way to express my creative side by collaborating and researching. Even now with only a few weeks left in the semester, it still takes time to plan. 

Putting up the lights each year, we have an idea of how we want the display to look. We focus on the perspective of the audience who visits each day. The design incorporates different colors, different songs, and interactive features where guests who visit can participate in the song choice. But we learn that change is what we need. 

I have to admit that I have taught the same way with minor changes. But then I was getting bored at what I was teaching my students. It was the same lesson, the same objectives, and the same repetitive message each year. I know my students can see it too. The excitement in teaching is becoming bland. Just as we change the look of the Christmas lights, a change in lesson plans also felt right.

But the change was more than not feeling uninteresting in the subject matter. It was a way to gain that spirit once again.

During the holiday season, my husband constructs a 25-foot mega light tree with over 20,000 lights on it alone. This becomes the center point of our display. But this was not the first design of the mega tree. In nine years, there have been four different ways to construct it. While it was still the same mega tree, we were able to learn from our mistakes to create something even more magical.

This is how I view teaching. It is more than just a simple design. It was a way to be more innovative, creative, and improve the ways students learn.

Many times I see students and educators moving too fast where, when the day is over, everything is a blur. We need that moment to reflect on ourselves and each other. Instead of rushing out of the building at 3:15 to drive home, I sit at my desk and take that moment to look around the room. All the students are gone, paper is found on the floor, and a few chairs are out of place. For five and a half hours a day, students are in and out of the classroom. Then I realize, they are part of the design.

It’s time that we light up the holidays with teaching.

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About Kristen Koppers

Kristen is an educator, Edumatch author, blogger, and presenter. She teaches ELA in secondary education as well as an adjunct professor at a local junior college. Kristen has been teaching for twenty years and has a Master of Arts in English (M.A.) and a Master of Education in Administration (MA. Ed.). She certified as a National Board Certified Teacher in 2009 and completed her recertification in 2019.

Kristen is the author of Differentiated Instruction in the Teaching Profession (2019) #DITeaching and The Perfect Puppy (2020) #ThePerfectPuppyEdu. Find out more information about Kristen at: