|It’s that time of year again. You know, the time when teachers (and sometimes politicians) debate the most appropriate ways to celebrate the holidays in the classroom. With the great diversity in public schools, it’s easy to see why the debate continues year after year.According to the most recent stats from the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES), a cross section of 100 students from the average United States public classroom looks something like this: 58 non-Hispanic White, 20 Hispanic, 16 non-Hispanic Black, four Asian/Pacific Islander and one American Indian/Alaska Native. And, of those students, 21 speak a language other than English at home. Chances are some of your students are not celebrating Christmas at all, but in its place Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, the Lunar New Year or a host of other holidays.|
Thankfully, in recent years educational initiatives surrounding culturally responsive classroom practices have been popping up across the United States, providing educators with resources for celebrating not only traditional American holidays, but holidays around the globe. We’ve pulled together a few ideas for celebrating “the holidays” in your classroom. For complete guidelines and one-to-one instruction, find the program for culturally responsive instruction in your state.
Plan as a team
Welcome educators by handing out monthly planners that can be used during the meeting to mark holidays that will be celebrated school-wide and to take notes. Some topics to consider during the meeting include:
Keep the conversation open after the meeting by placing a whiteboard tabletop display in a common area that acts as an open forum for staff to leave questions and write responses.
Decide what’s right for your classroom
If you do book speakers for your classroom, let them know their message was well received with a nice token of thanks. Have students use what they learned to design a custom Color-Me Shopping Tote or to create thank-you bookmarks to stash away inside the Gift of Inspiration series book “Thank You,” custom-imprinted with your school’s logo.
Remember, a cultural approach to the holidays is not just for students from diverse backgrounds. Having a well-rounded cultural education helps all students gain new knowledge and grow an appreciation for cultures other than their own.
“Fast Facts.” National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) Home Page, a Part of the U.S. Department of Education. Web. 30 Oct. 2011.
“The Condition of Education – Participation in Education – Elementary/Secondary Education – Children Who Spoke a Language Other Than English at Home – Indicator 6 (2011).” National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) Home Page, a Part of the U.S. Department of Education. Web. 29 Oct. 2011.
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