A Thanksgiving Playlist (with extra sauce)

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Pumpkin and… pedagogy.
Cranberry sauce and … culturally appropriate practices.
Turkey and … teacher morale.
Mashed potatoes and… making sure students’ attendance doesn’t drag on vacation.

OK OK. We’ll save you more menu alliteration and get to the birdie, I mean business, at your fingertips. Thanksgiving is something of an informal kickoff to a challenging yet rewarding season for teachers, principals, and district administrators.

For one thing, holiday markers can lift spirits during a tough school year. On the other hand, a domino string of sporadic days off by February promises to interrupt class momentum and further reduce student attendance rates.

Good sauce, that’s a lot to handle! Don’t be corny, but here’s a slew of stories from the Education Week archives that you can gulp down to make your vacation a piece of pie — or at least give you some new ideas to chew on.

Pass the roulades and do the homework…

“No matter what you’re working on in school right now, there’s no reason to ask students to worry about it during the first extended short break of the school year,” the educator wrote. Starr Sackstein in this opinion piece..

Sackstein said teachers shouldn’t give homework on Thanksgiving weekend. Instead, suggest they talk to a family member with a different perspective and share what they’ve learned, play with a pet, or help cook the holiday meal.

Christina Torres, an 8th grade English teacher, agrees.

“It’s important to take the stress out of homework during my students’ holidays. They deserve an opportunity to relax and rejuvenate as much as I do, especially if they are too programmed to start,” she wrote. in 2019.

Serve the stuffing and support a new teacher…

“For beginning teachers, coming to the end of the semester can bring a real sense of accomplishment. They feel free to write new plans and ready to reset routines for second semester,” Monica Washington, 2014 Texas Teacher of the Year, wrote in this EdWeek essay. “For others, this period brings questions and deep reflection. Is the teaching really what I thought it would be? Why do I feel so lost all the time? What else can I do with this science degree? »

In this opinion piece, Washington urged administrators to check in with new teachers around Thanksgiving to offer support, answer questions and point out things they are doing well.

Give thanks for the chance to re-examine history…

There is “less and less” use of construction paper headdresses and simplified pilgrim stories in schools “as more and more people are aware that this version is a myth, and we realize that there is a really different perspective that needs to be taken into account,” Jacob Tsotigh, a citizen of the Kiowa tribe and a tribal education specialist for the National Indian Education Association, told Education Week 2019 .

In this story and an accompanying PBS Newshour segment, Education Week explored how teachers have “unlearned” the widely told Thanksgiving narrative. understand the Native American perspective.

Give up football and practice pluralism…

For educators “the convergence of so many vacations [following Thanksgiving] can create the December Dilemma: how to recognize and respect the wide variety of holidays and traditions held dear by their students without implying that some are more important than others,” wrote Kimberly Keiserman, Education Program Associate at the Tanenbaum Center. for Interreligious Understanding, in a 2015 opinion essay.

Keiserman explored how educators can respect their students’ diverse cultural and religious traditions during the winter vacation season.. A tip: teach students to ask open-ended questions such as: “Which holidays are important to you?” instead of “Why don’t you celebrate Christmas?” »

Prime! This article offers advice for teachers on selecting songs and readings for holiday shows.

Eat eat eat! And plan to involve the students…

“To reduce the levels of absences in our schools, we’re going to have to have a very intentional, thoughtful, long-term strategy,” Hedy Chang, executive director of Attendance Works, told Education Week recently.

Chronic absenteeism has increased during the pandemic, and the winter months present a particular challenge for school leaders struggling to develop attendance habits. Holidays interrupt learning time and a wave of respiratory illnesses has led to temporary school closures across the country. In this article, Chang offers tips for keeping students engaged.

Grow in gratitude and empathy…

“As any teacher will tell you in one of these [high-poverty] schools – a growing number, thanks to the steady increase in the percentage of children living in difficult circumstances – the Monday after Thanksgiving is a particularly difficult (and important) day to be an educator,” wrote education activist Sam Chaltain in this opinion piece. “While many children will be ready and eager to get back to school life, some will return to class having eaten little during the four-day break. And others will be numb from their prolonged stay in a world of chaos and dysfunction.

Schools must take into account the realities of students’ lives to help them learn and succeed, Chaltain wrote.

Prime! Learn how two Washington state district leaders developed a community school strategy to help their community connect students and their families to needed supports like food pantries, employment services, and mental health care.

Nurture “gratitude”…

“The constant state of haste, worry, and fury in which we live and teach, along with the myriad distractions of everyday life, amounts to what author Brigid Schulte calls ‘overwhelm’. And adults aren’t the only ones experiencing this; students feel overwhelmed too,” wrote author Gary Abud.

In this opinion piece, Abud writes about classroom practices for nurturing and sharing ‘thankattitude.

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