Holiday Stress? Nah…You’ve Got This!

Whether your school acknowledges multiethnic holidays year-round, focuses on traditional December holidays, or avoids holidays altogether, there’s no doubt about it…there’s an inevitable buzz in the air at this time of the year. Looking for some simple ways to keep your cool and maintain a few shreds of peace leading up to your school’s break?

Check out these 5 practical strategies:

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For This, I am Thankful

Wooohhhweeee! If you’re in education, there is no doubt that these past few years have felt like one big rollercoaster ride. From the pandemic, to CDC guidelines, to politics, to teacher shortages, to guest-teacher shortages, to school board meeting showdowns…the list seems unending.

As the Thanksgiving holiday approaches, we’ve polled our administrator and teacher friends to create a different kind of list; one filled with gratitude and with thanks.

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Who Are You? The Importance of Identity in the Classroom

President John F. Kennedy said ‘Conformity is the jailer of freedom and the enemy of growth.’ Elected in the year 1960, I would say that statement was ahead of its time! Blending in with the crowd in every aspect was safe and even admired until the relatively recent past. Once upon a time, even claiming to ‘not see color’ in others…not in our neighbors, not in our colleagues, and definitely not in our students…was a point of pride, an altruistic statement. Often used innocently and with the intention being to express a lack of judgmentalism or racism, the use of this phrase and mindset is now widely frowned upon.  What happens when we don’t see one another? Seeing who people truly are, including the color of their skin, is critical; particularly within the walls of our schools and classrooms. Why? Because respectfully recognizing who our students are and all that it encompasses…their race, ethnicity, religion, gender, first language, home country (or city or town), hobbies, and so on, allows us as educators to address each students’ value and their need to belong. Consciously or not, ignoring who students really are can prevent us from teaching them well.

In attempting to be ‘fair’ and not factoring in our students’ identities, we overlook their unique experiences and backgrounds. This only conveys that who you really are doesn’t matter. As educators we know the importance of building relationships, lowering student anxiety, and creating classroom communities. What we may be neglecting, though, is fostering our student’s identities. How can we acknowledge, build, and foster identity-safe classrooms? Here are some simple yet worthwhile ideas to get you started!

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Bridging the Gap Between School and Home with GrapeSEED

No doubt about it, the world is changing every second of every day and everybody seems to have their own opinion about it. However, one issue that we can certainly unite over is the desire for our children to thrive. Along with being healthy, safe, loved, and confident, we want our children to have the opportunity to succeed academically, as a way to ensure a bright future for them and for future generations. Many say there is no greater gift than reassurance that the school we entrust our children’s educations to, will provide the proper strategies, materials, and guidance necessary for them to receive a quality education.

Events global pandemics and violence in classrooms have definitely cast a spotlight on many issues regarding equity in education. If there wasn’t already a shred of natural anxiety for families and caregivers around this topic, there certainly is now! Might this concern be even greater for the families of English Language Learner (ELL) students?

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The Refugee Project Part 5: Celebrating Wins

I’m not usually an ‘everyone gets a trophy’ kind of person.  But in this case, I was totally ready to make an exception. What case is that you ask? In the case of the refugee English Language Acquisition class that I had been teaching for about eight weeks. The class was filled with young women and their children who had come to the United States in order to flee from danger in their homeland. Almost all of them began their journey to the US with being awakened in the middle of the night by their husbands, who themselves had been frantically telephoned, instructed to gather their families, to hustle to the location of the jet that they would board, and to bring nothing but the shoes on their feet & clothes on their backs.

The eight weeks allotted for our English class was wrapping up and I wanted to do something special on our last day together. Had everyone in the class become a fluent English speaker in eight weeks? Of course not. Did each one master all the vocabulary and language expressions that they were being exposed to? Not everyone did, no.

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