During this time of the year in the United States Christmas is everywhere! On TV ads, on the radio, on the cup of coffee you purchase, and more – and students and families who don’t celebrate it get over-saturated with these images and messages. It is important to offer space in our classrooms where they can breathe and have a space to share and cherish their family traditions and celebrations. Yes, this can also be done in Spanish class! I know that many of us love teaching the Burrito Sabanero song by Juanes, and I am not saying that we should stop singing those songs, but as educators, we should acknowledge other spiritualities and beliefs in our language classes too, especially in the context of such a diverse country like the United States.
Teaching Tolerance is a wonderful resource to use and incorporate when creating lessons for our classes. Their Social Justice Standards are a must-see/use resource that provides a solid grounding for anti-bias education at every level. These standards provide a common language for schools to use. The standards are divided into four domains: Identity, Diversity, Justice, and Action.
I had the opportunity to dive deep into these standards during the summer when I participated in a group to rethink the social studies curriculum of the school where I currently teach. I saw that these standards work great for world language educators and, in fact, many Spanish teachers are already using them. With that in mind, I created a resource to use around this time of the year. It is also based on an experience I had last year with a student who was the only Jewish student in my first-grade class (read post here). I can’t let my own joy for Christmas sideline my students’ identities and needs.
All educators know that teaching this year is different, and since I am not seeing many of my students because they are working on asynchronous lessons, we will miss having these conversations. Hopefully, next year will be different, and I will be able to update this post. For now, I will send a short video of me talking in English and Spanish about family celebrations and assigning the activity below on Seesaw for my students to complete. Better times will come!
Here are a few videos in English that can support initiating the conversation about family traditions and celebrations in your classes: