"We are all different, which is great because we are all unique. Without diversity, life would be very boring." - Catherine Pulsifer
The beautiful thing about our students growing up and going to school is the people they will meet, the lives they will touch, and the positive impact they will have on each other. For many of us, the holiday season offers warm and fuzzy memories from when we were younger. For students, this time of year brings more sweet treats, joyful moods, winter breaks, and who could forget the gift exchanges!
And while this is an incredibly exciting season for teachers, students, and parents, it's important to remember that trying for inclusion and diversity in the classroom can make for an even more memorable time for all involved. CCEF is proud to provide funding to such a diverse pool of students and teachers to encourage initiatives that further the inclusion of every student. So, how do we maneuver this very special season in a way that's educational, impactful, and fun?
The first step toward cultivating an inclusive environment for your students is awareness. Learning about your students, and encouraging your students to learn about one another, can help open up young minds to holidays and celebrations they might not participate in. This can be done any time of the year, not just during the holidays! But getting to know the cultures and traditions of each student will certainly help many teachers, parents, and classmates navigate the holiday season more effectively and sincerely.
Educate and Celebrate Accordingly
Remember that not all cultural celebrations are done in December. Creating an inclusive holiday environment means acknowledging and celebrating those holidays that fall outside the commercial holiday calendar. With that being said, educating yourself and students about multicultural traditions creates space for students to feel included. Of course, holiday celebrations should be fun and exciting, but making it an educational opportunity is the perfect way to teach important diversity concepts in a memorable way! Focusing on origins and traditions can help your students to understand different traditions from around the world.
Traditions from varying cultures, religions, and parts of the world can have many distinctions, but finding similarities may be easier than you think! For example, Christmas, Hanukkah, and Diwali all place a heavy significance on light decorations during their respective holiday season. When decorating your classroom, use these commonalities to connect these holidays to your students. Building off of what each holiday has in common with one another can help teachers and students avoid religious or cultural stereotypes as well.
Encourage Respect to All
There are students who may not celebrate a winter holiday, or any holiday at all. Offering activities and visuals that don't just emphasize traditional holiday motifs can help these students still feel included in the season. For instance, opting for a craft that has Christmas trees, menorahs, and a neutral winter figure, like gingerbread men, offers a more inclusive option in your classroom for students who might not celebrate anything.
Remember that perfection is not the goal. The fact that you are creating an environment that shows respect and acknowledges traditions, holidays, and celebrations from around the world will speak to your students about acceptance and inclusion for years to come.
CCEF wants every student in CCSD to feel included, supported, and provided for through educational opportunities and grants. We are so incredibly thankful for your donations and encouragement throughout this year. We couldn't do it without you!