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Fostering an Inclusive December

Submitted by jreid on

With so many seasonal events in motion and around the corner, it’s hard not to get caught up in the festive spirit. While we are busily preparing for our Winter Bazaar, Holiday Concert and Carol Services, we are also paying thoughtful attention to the diversity of our students and being inclusive of the celebrations outside of Christmas to ensure we are respectful of everyone’s beliefs.

Emelina Dimero, author of the article “The Christmas Dilemma,” acknowledges that this time of year for teachers presents an ongoing opportunity to be culturally responsive – to understand that there is a “cultural uniqueness” to all students that needs to be accepted, appreciated and nurtured in order to create the conditions needed for learning and thriving. It does not mean opting out of Halloween or staying quiet on the origins of Christmas; rather, it means addressing cultures, religions and celebrations with pride, courage and compassion because, as educators, we know the importance of modelling open-mindedness and acceptance. Dimero states that, with “research showing that feelings of belonging improve academic outcomes, it’s imperative that all students see their authentic selves – including their families’ culture and heritage – reflected in their classrooms and schools.”

Dimero provides teachers with suggestions on how to support this learning for their students. Here are some examples of how we are focusing on inclusivity. In addition, as the learning does not stop when students exit Boulden House, parents can also guide conversations with their children using these ideas as well:

  • Teach about holidays year-round, not just in December
    This is something we do really well in the School. Our Allies Against Racism and Discrimination (AARD) group continues to meet often to learn about important months, days and events across all cultures and religions to then share their learning with all students. For example, just this last week, Grade 8 students Wyatt, Senna and Victoria presented a slideshow on Hindu Heritage Month at assembly. As a school, we also have a calendar that is circulated to all staff that acknowledges religious, cultural and heritage days each month.
  • Teach and discuss holidays from multiple perspectives
    We are always looking for ways to integrate different voices and perspectives into our lessons, resource choices and guest speakers. For example, by adding Indigenous voices into our social studies curriculum and novel studies, we are able to provide our students with a deeper understanding of our nation’s collective history.
  • Know your community
    There are many great aspects of our tight-knit community and one is that we know our students well. Taking the time to connect with a student, develop rapport and then get to know their interests and strengths goes a long way in getting to know their “cultural uniqueness.” The more we know about our student population and their families, the more we can create a sense of belonging for all members of our community.

I look forward to seeing you all over the next few weeks!