Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Are you the School's Holiday Scrooge?

Do you cringe every time the parties, movies and games start in celebration of holidays during the school year?  Are you more inclined to teach your students the history of holidays instead of posting symbols and decorations that acknowledge them?  Would you prefer to have cafeteria, hall, or recess duty for an entire year if it meant you could opt out of serving on any holiday program committees? Are you embarrassed by teachers who spend more time planning their classroom festivities for the holidays than they do unit lessons for learning?  If you answered yes to at least two out of the four, chances are, you are a School Holiday Scrooge!

I embrace my inner scrooge proudly.  No, I don't run around protesting against other people's right to believe what they want.  Furthermore, I no longer feel the need to justify or explain why I ignore particular holidays unless I am provoked or asked.   I have matured and discovered savvy ways of  "putting the medicine in the food" instead of running around like a self-righteous, preachy lunatic with a chip on my shoulder.  Not only does my new approach set a positive example for avoiding the status-quo of commercialism with confidence and conviction but it allows people to feel comfortable about approaching me and inquiring about my scrooge tendencies.

Nevertheless, there are still chances that co-workers and colleagues will label and judge the School Scrooges regardless of their non-invasive  strategies.  Regardless, we are responsible for ensuring our children trust who we are as teachers, surrogate parents and mentors, despite how different we appear from the rest.   There are plenty of ways to make teachable moments out of topics that rub your own belief system the wrong way without personalizing the subject or converting the students.

For instance, I have been annoyed by all  the standing pumpkin scarecrows and hanging skull heads in an after-school tutoring program where I co-tutor/teach with several other adults since the beginning of October.  Since it's not my personal class space and we are curriculum-free, I did not insult any one's decision to decorate the classroom, issue Halloween activity sheets or plan a Halloween party.  Instead, I "did me" by bringing copies of skeletons and using its connection to Halloween as an opportunity to teach the children about the bones in their bodies.  After explaining how we are all walking skeletons and giving the important roles bones play, we pronounced and identified certain bones in the body.  Then, I gave them copies of skeletons with labeled bones to study and told them to prepare for a game using the handout. No preaching or personalizing required!

The following public library books will further explain information about bones and serve as tactile visuals.

These cool skeleton straws will make cool gifts for providing models and drinking juice rather than eating candy.

They will use the below black napkins (a lot cheaper than construction paper) and chalk to draw their own x-ray skeletons.

  • Skeleton Straws:  99 cents
  • Napkins:  99 cents
  • Chalk:  Zero (plenty left-over from my classroom teaching days)
  • Juice:  $10
  • The feeling I get from knowing they learned something REAL without feeding them candy or being a Halloween Scrooge:  Priceless! 


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