Lately, I’ve been doing a lot of thinking about Easter. We’re about to start the first of two four-day weeks, with the Easter long weekend in the middle of them. If you’re in an elementary school, you have probably already see egg and bunny crafts, or even the introduction of some Easter manipulatives or loose parts making their way into play. I get it! I support 11 Kindergarten and Grade 1 classes at my school, and tons of kids are excitedly sharing with me their plans for the long weekend. Easter is on many people’s minds. But recently I was chatting with a fellow educator and friend, and our conversation inspired this blog post.
Our conversation was not about Easter, but it was about “accepting differences.” I shared with her a story that was shared with me a few years ago now. Race and gender identity were all being explored in different ways across the grades, and for a number of reasons, some people were questioning this learning. An educator that I know and respect shared a really important point: “We teach in a public school, so our classrooms are going to be made up of students and families with different cultural backgrounds and gender identities. It’s important for all students to see themselves in our schools, and for us to develop a culture of acceptance as part of our teaching practices.” Now this is not word-for-word what he said, but the messaging is definitely similar.
This stuck with me, and I thought about it as well when we unpacked some student voice at our last PA Day.
I’ve been reflecting a lot on how we can ensure that students see themselves and their families in our classrooms — be it through the learning opportunities that we provide, the materials that we share, and/or the texts that we read.
Now keep this in mind when I come back to the bunny. In October, I left a Kindergarten class of my own to start my new position as a Reading Specialist. As a previous Kindergarten educator, and now as an educator who supports Kindergarten and Grade 1 students primarily, I definitely believe in listening and responding to kids. When educators are choosing these Easter activities and read alouds, I think that they’re doing so in response to what many of their students are also thinking and talking about. This is not a criticism of these choices, and nor am I suggesting that Easter not be discussed. I mean, I just came back from a manicure appointment, where I asked for a nail design and a bunny of my own made an appearance.
But I also wonder if this week might provide an opportunity for some learning beyond Easter. While some families are celebrating Easter (and I realize that the eggs and bunnies are the non-denominational celebration of this holiday), other families are celebrating Ramadan, and others might be starting Passover. Someone like me is celebrating more than one of these holidays.
If we’re making Easter baskets with chocolates inside, there could be some students that will be fasting during the instructional day (and the time for any party food), and others that might not be able to eat the treats because they’re not Kosher for Passover. So what is possible? Maybe there’s an opportunity here to learn about the different celebrations or even apply new learning in various ways. Think about a Kindergarten class for example.
With Easter approaching, there is a lot of pretend cooking and baking happening in classrooms. Maybe Kindergarten students could explore different holidays like Passover and Ramadan, and see how their bakery could provide treats for all families to enjoy.
- Do students need to reconsider the hours that their bakery is open to support those that might be fasting?
- Are there special treats that people eat for Easter, Ramadan, and Passover? How do you make them? This seems like a great opportunity to also learn some new vocabulary.
- Passover goodies need to be Kosher for Passover. Could there be a Kosher for Passover section in a classroom bakery?
Families might even have some stories or recipes to share. Maybe some want to come in and play in the classroom bakery with the kids to also be a part of this experience with them.
Easter is not being forgotten, but possibly with a few shifts, some other holidays could be discussed and explored more deeply. Could more students then start see themselves in classrooms and schools? What shifts might you make to go beyond the bunny? Another week is upon us, and I’m excited to be a part of the planning for many different literacy-rich learning opportunities.
This is very insightful! Thinking very much from an EDI lens. And the idea of family inclusion and story sharing definitely rings true. Thank you for sharing your thoughts!
Thank you so much for your comment! I really love hearing a parent perspective on this. I’m curious to hear about what others might have tried. My learning over the past month or so and other experiences from the past, have me thinking a lot about the choices I might make in the classroom knowing what I know now, but also how I can support different learning in my current role.