“Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world.”
– Nelson Mandela
December is filled with gifts.
It’s the end of the semester, most likely. It’s the end of the calendar year. We are inching towards a long break.
With all of this in mind:
Figure out what to say and do about gifts–NOW.
Ideas for the classroom:
- Create a center for card-making, picture-making, etc. Extol the merits of a handmade gift, after all there is nothing else in the world quite like it.
- Be creative. We live in a materialistic world, and it can get extra materialistic around this time of year.
- Gifts I “gave”: homework passes, extra recesses, no shoe hour, bring a stuffed animal to school day
- Favorite responses when asked what I wanted:
- in kindergarten: “Greatest gift in the world is knowing all your sight words.”
- “I have everything I need.”
- “A clean desk.”
- “Tissues.” (or some other school supply for the classroom)
Advice for the rest of the school environment:
- No one says you have to attend the party
- No one says you have to contribute to a potluck, a gift card for administration/office staff, etc.
- If you can afford it great, but if you can’t then don’t feel you have to buy anything (treats, clothing for spirit days, decorations, etc.)
Gifts are beautiful. However, they are not expected–not from you, and not from your students. Just make a plan–figure out what you can say and do to be kind, gracious, and generous in your own way.
Sometimes less is more.
Sometimes inquiring about something unknown leads to a great discovery.
As you know, in the United States, the Christmas market is overwhelming.
Before you plan and execute two to three weeks worth of Christmas festivities, insert Christmas-themed worksheets, and read a Christmas-inspired novel each day, consider the following:
- Not everyone celebrates Christmas. Although considered a Christian holiday, even some Christians do not celebrate Christmas.
- Christmas celebrations vary wildly. Ethnicity, race, income, religion, are just a few meaningful and highly influential factors that determine any holiday celebration.
- Is what you do, or include, reflective of your worldview, or many worldviews?
- There are holidays all year long–why emphasize this one over all others?
- If the same amount of time is not spent on other celebrations, what exactly gives this holiday added merit in the curriculum?
- Is spending one lesson on Hanukkah and ten on Christmas really inclusive and meaningful, or does it merely provide a way to assuage guilt?
- Someone once told me that they knew Christmas well, so that’s why there’s more of it in their classroom. If that’s your rationale, is there anyone to help you? Is there anyone to teach you, and your kids, about other traditions?
This is an ongoing discussion I have had for 11 years in my classroom, and with my coworkers.
I have always taught in public schools, which requires the separation of church and state. I understand that private schools and other forms of schooling may not need to consider religious-based questions in the same way I do.
However, the reflection aspect, thinking about why we do certain things in our classroom, even with the best intentions, is always beneficial.
This month, before you plan anything, I encourage you to think critically and plan mindfully. More happens in December than we realize . . .
Since we discussed math recently, I thought I would share one of my favorite math boards. I received this Math In Minutes board through a DonorsChoose grant, it was purchased at Lakeshore Learning. So much rich discussion and spiral review with this thing — loved it!
“Any book that helps a child to form a habit of reading, to make reading one of his deep and continuing needs, is good for him.”
– Maya Angelou