Do you have students in your class who don’t celebrate certain holidays? If so, this tip on buddying with another teacher is for you!
Network with other teachers and find out who shares your dilemma. You can buddy up and help your students feel welcome and happy during holiday and birthday celebrations.
An email to the school is a good way to find your matches. Ask if anyone would like to get together and plan for how to help students who don’t celebrate holidays (and/or birthdays.) You could also coordinate this at staff meeting. If several teachers are in the same boat, you should all be buddies. After all, one teacher’s class might be hard to reach during an impromptu birthday celebration, and it’s nice to have backups.
Early in the school year, arrange a joint activity for your classes, or at least trade students so your non-holiday child can meet the other class. (The child could bring a friend or two to make this less awkward—and less obvious to the host class what you’re doing. It will be harder to connect it with religion.)
Set up a standing arrangement for birthdays. Your child can help (or just visit) another class during birthday celebrations. (If the child wants this. In my experience, some students who are Jehovah’s Witnesses have no problem being there but not participating.)
Make plans for holiday parties. Include de facto holiday parties, like your “Fall Festival.” (Everyone knows that’s Halloween.) Schedule your party at a different time than your buddy’s party. The affected students can visit each other’s classrooms during party time. Try to plan a fun or engaging activity for that time.
Contact the students’ parents. You might find out that the parents plan to keep their child home during certain parties or holidays. This is good to know in advance. In this case, you should still host your buddy class’s child, because that student still needs a positive place to be.
Tell the principal and other staff about your plans. Someone else may be in the same situation and just didn’t realize you were organizing. Your principal may want to remember this technique for future years, maybe after you have moved on. Your principal may want to talk about your idea at a principals’ meeting. Other schools may use your idea.
My students really enjoy hosting these kids from other classes. They go out of their way to make the guest child feel welcome and valued. I think that buddying up like this benefits all students and builds a stronger community.