If you follow kinderchat member @Havalah, you have perhaps read between the lines of her tweets recently, and known that she has had some conflicts with two students' parents regarding her Valentine's Day plans. Havalah asked me to share her classroom policy on Valentine's Day with all of you, to get your thoughts and feedback.
Some important background details:
Havalah works at a public school in Massachusetts, serving a culturally and economically diverse group of children. Her school building is an all-kindergarten school, with 7 classes total. Her district has specific policies regarding social justice and cultural sensitivity in the classroom, although there is some variation in how different teachers interpret those policies (**see addendum below for more on this). The paragraph below was printed in her weekly classroom newsletter a few weeks ago:
Important note about Valentines/Valentine's Day: We will not be having a party or passing out individual Valentine's Day cards. We spend the year talking about being friendly, kind, loving and gentle. I do not expect everyone in the class to be friends but I do expect them to be friendly, helpful and kind to each other and themselves. This is something that I think (and tell the children) that we all strive for every day in our daily lives and it is a constant process, building relationships in all sorts of ways. I want them to be mindful of this process each and *every* day. We do however, take this opportunity to honor and value your child's relationship with YOU! You are most certainly their Valentine-- you are their friend and their strongest supporter. We will be making special crafts to celebrate the love and peace of the day. This year Valentine's Day is arriving in the midst of the 100th Day of Kindergarten, a special whole school science event and with the coming of more snow it will all feel very rushed. Please do take time to feel the love and special bond that you have with your child on these cold, cold winter days.
Thank you as always for all that you do to support your child's education.
Havalah has a full slate of crafts and fun activities planned for her class during the week of Valentine's Day, and her students will make a variety of small gifts and cards to bring home to their families. What do you all think? What are your plans for Valentine's Day in your classroom?
Huge thanks to Havalah for sharing her policy, and becoming our first guest contributor. I know I can trust you all to be positive, constructive, and kind in your comments.
Addendum, sent in by Havalah this afternoon:
**Hi =) It's me, Havalah. Just to clarify a teeny bit- unfortunately there aren't really any policies in the district regarding cultural sensitivity/social justice. I've been in this district 6 years and while there is apparently a policy about December holidays I don't know if it truly exists on paper. I *do* know in conversations that I've had with the Interim Superintendent that he sees our district as being 20 years behind in:
a)having conversations about culture/tradition/holiday/social justice
b)policy surrounding it.
My goal in the classroom is to be *inclusive* and *supportive* of all children. This is one way throughout the year that I do so. This is also the first time in the years that I've implemented this policy that anyone has either taken it up with me or gone to admin. with a complaint about it. I know that in other rooms in the building on V'Day kids will be left out- either their parents will not have the time/money, inclination to buy valentines, they'll invariably be left off a list and so on. I do not want this to be the case in my classroom, therefore, this is my way of trying to prevent it from happening. It goes back to making an inclusive space for my class kids each and every day, holiday or not. I *am* trying to be a change agent; in my classroom, in my school and in my district. I teach Kindergarten for many reasons. Not because the kids/content/activities are cute, or the traditions make me feel warm and fuzzy. I teach because I want to help children become thoughtful, kind, responsible and aware of the world around them- the similarities and the differences. I can do that by incorporating some aspects that we as the older generation are used to and by changing others. If it means that the whole of the class will feel included, safe, loved and respected by me doing so, then those are choices that I am willing to make.