What to do Wednesday: Feeling Grinchy

Dear Lesson Plan Toolbox,

We are headed into our winter break and there's something I simply can't get off my mind. One of my team teachers does an over  the top job with everything she does! She is passionate and compassionate when it comes to learning and her students. However, this past month has been so hard for me to be quiet. Her classroom looks like a scene from the movie Elf. As much as I love the enthusiasm, I worry about how distracting snowflakes hanging from the ceiling and Christmas lights all around will be for some of our students that struggle with attention. Then, the more I thought about it, the more I keep thinking that we have students in our building that don't even celebrate Christmas. How can we go overboard for one holiday, which in my opinion has become quite commercialized and simply ignore all of the other holidays? It doesn't seem fair that this is happening and no one is speaking up.

I guess I'm sending you this because I really don't know what to do. Should I address this with my administrator or simply leave it alone because we are on break for the next couple of weeks? I'm looking forward to your response.

Feeling Grinchy

Dear Feeling Grinchy,

Thanks so much for reaching out to us! That's what we're here for! As much as I am hoping you are enjoying your winter break, I'm guessing that may not be the case just yet. Our goal is to set you in the right direction and see if we can help you come up with a plan of approach. The easy thing to do would be to sweep this under the rug and ignore the situation. The fact that you are asking for help tells me that you don't want the easy way out, so let's get started!

First, I couldn't agree more that simply focusing on Christmas during the month of December is not fair or culturally responsive. This past summer has opened my eyes wide to creating classroom environments that are culturally responsive. Yes, Christmas is heavily celebrated here in the United States, but it is HIGHLY commercialized and NOT the only holiday. There are so many teachers on Instagram that promote culturally responsive classrooms that in this day and age this should be a must do.

As for your role in bringing this to someone's attention, I think it would be best if it came from your administration. Being that you are part of a team, you don't want to hinder any relationships or cause others to feel as though they want to take sides. My guess is your administrator will check emails over the winter break, so try sending an email expressing your concerns. I would highlight the need to create culturally responsive classrooms and even suggest some Instagram teachers as examples. Not knowing the whole background of this teacher, maybe you can offer to mentor her in this area. If she has a mentor teacher, then perhaps your administrator can suggest her mentor discusses this with the teacher.

All this being said, I don't think the teacher was intentionally leaving out the other holidays. Sometimes we get ideas in our heads and they seem fabulous, but someone else may have a whole different interpretation. I find that once teachers are aware of what they are doing they are quickly willing to adjust as needed. I'm hoping that this will be the case in your situation too.

We hope that this helped to at least guide you on the right path with what actions you might take. Please feel free to reach out to us again (@lessonplantoolbox) if you have more questions or need more ideas. We are happy to serve our teachers in any manner that we can. Finally, please be sure to take some time to simply rest and not think about school. You earned this time and you DESERVE it!

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