How would handle this situation and what would your principal do?

Discussion in 'Elementary Education' started by txmomteacher2, Oct 28, 2015.

  1. txmomteacher2

    txmomteacher2 Enthusiast

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    Oct 28, 2015

    I have a student who because of his religious beliefs does not celebrate just about anything you can celebrate. I have had many conversations with the parents and have stopped doing a lot of things in my class so that I don't make this child feel bad. I wont go into details about the kinds of things I don't do anymore, just that it sorta is a bummer for me but it's just one year I can live without some fun things. I know that I could keep doing these things and send him out but he is 5 and even though he would probably understand I have just chosen not to do them. So this week is of course Halloween week. I usually do a huge pumpkin patch BB with jack-o-lanterns with a scary full moon background. I changed it up a bit I added apples and made them just pumpkins. Again trying to accommodate not alienate. We went to the pumpkin patch he didnt go. Last week the librarian was going to do some pumpkins he asked his Mom to tell us he didn't feel comfortable with even coloring pumpkins. We were like Ok here is a different sheet to color. SOOOOO today I walk into music to get a couple of my kids to do some tutorials with them. Up on the screen is a Halloween video playing. So I ask the music teacher who at the beginning of the year was notified of this families religious beliefs, where my little one was and her words were "Oh he's watching it and has no clue what hes watching.." I was pretty upset. i have worked hard to have a good relationship with these parents. Not that they are over bearing or ugly or rude or mean or anything just I don't want to do anything to upset them. They are super sweet and very understanding that I have never had child in my class who had their beliefs. I am always telling them if I do anything please just understand that it is not out of disrespect. I did tell the principal so she wouldn't be blindsided by a parent phone call and not that they would call and be ugly, of course things might be different if they heard what she said about their kid not knowing what he was watching. Just a little vent!
     
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  3. stephenpe

    stephenpe Connoisseur

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    Oct 28, 2015

    Public school is not meant to be a shield from everything a family might disagree with. The music teacher did not do it on purpose and the 5 year old will survive. I remember kids like this and we did all we could to give them alternatives but you dont change everything for one kid.
     
  4. czacza

    czacza Multitudinous

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    Oct 28, 2015

    You threw your colleague under the bus by going to the P. Better to ask her to clear it with P or wait and see if parents have an issue before discussing with P.
     
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  5. Backroads

    Backroads Aficionado

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    Oct 28, 2015

    Sounds like it's the music teacher's situation (if it does become a situation) and doesn't involve you. You handled the matter in your jurisdiction. I don't think You need to advocate much further for the family.
     
    Last edited: Oct 28, 2015
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  6. Obadiah

    Obadiah Groupie

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    Oct 29, 2015

    I think you and the parents are to be commended for the way you both are handling these situations. A parent who chooses public education must anticipate activities and lessons that will conflict with personal beliefs at times and some parents have no choice. Private schools might be too expensive or not available in that area and homeschooling might not be an option. The important thing is to respectfully discuss matters of possible conflict and for both sides to listen to each other.

    Nothing gets solved in an argument. Each side tries to defend their position and tries to persuade or force the other to accept that position. Such behavior ends in a stalemate, and the only accomplishment is that both side are angry with each other.
     
  7. txmomteacher2

    txmomteacher2 Enthusiast

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    I did not throw my colleagues under the bus. She was all ready there when she purposely went against these parents requests on purpose. She said. "He's here and has no clue what he's watching" she knew what she was doing wrong. She is the one who talked to this parent during the summer and knew of their beliefs.
     
  8. catnfiddle

    catnfiddle Moderator

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    Oct 29, 2015

    I agree with @txmomteacher2 that if there was a bus, the music teacher was already diving in front of it. Giving the principal a gentle heads up was the best plan. Calling home is not necessary. If the kid says something to his parents, then the music teacher and principal can deal with it at that time.

    Honestly, I ALWAYS work on the assumption that someone in my class is of a faith that doesn't celebrate holidays, so I keep that conversation to a minimum. That must be a lot tougher on the elementary level. My 9th graders who are talking about Halloween are debating if they are young-looking enough to trick-or-treat one last time.
     
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  9. TeacherNY

    TeacherNY Maven

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    This wouldn't happen in our school since we have all types of celebrations and do not hold back if one student does not wish to participate. The only thing we honor is religious food restrictions. I think I would have stayed out of it since the music teacher was aware and it didn't happen in my own classroom. You can't control with others do in their classrooms.
     
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  10. Rox

    Rox Cohort

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    Oct 29, 2015

    As someone who doesn't always celebrate traditional holidays, I appreciate all that you are doing to ensure your student feels comfortable. It is amazing how much people (especially teachers) feel the need to force their own celebrations upon others.
     
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  11. TeacherNY

    TeacherNY Maven

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    I really don't care whether or not we celebrate a holiday in class but when the students bring it up and want to that's different. I don't see myself forcing it upon anyone. It also could be said that others are forcing the class to abstain from celebrating. Maybe there can be compromises but if the whole class didn't want to do it then I would refrain from it even if it was something I wanted to do.
     
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  12. Backroads

    Backroads Aficionado

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    I'm with TeacherNY. Keeping mum about all the different cultures in the world is stupid. The irony is that anytime anyone brings up a small culture's obscure holiday, it's hardly "being pushed on anyone". But do anything the least bit connected to local culture and suddenly you're a bigot. I'm not forcing my culture on you, I'm merely celebrating it and seeing no reason to hide it from you. If you're that offended by the differences in the world, please go join some tiny strict community in the mountains.
     
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  13. txmomteacher2

    txmomteacher2 Enthusiast

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    You guys who are disagreeing with me should look up the definitions of the words religion, and culture. They are two different things. I am not keeping mum so to speak about anyone's culture. I am merely not violating his 1st amendment right to believe in a different religion than I do. I NEVER once said that we don't talk about cultures in my class or any other class at my school. What I did say, was that the music teacher broke a rule purposely and that I was VERY upset about it.
    What I also said was that most of the things that I am not doing so that I don't alienate him from my class are things that are not taking away from any aspect of any child's education they are silly fun things that I can live with out. We do enough fun things without doing those specific things.
     
  14. Backroads

    Backroads Aficionado

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    Hey, I'm not disagreeing with your actions. But in no way does a kid seeing Halloween Decorations force him to change religion. No ammendment is being violated. Don't make the situation something it's not.

    My point is that shielding everyone from all the differences in the world helps no one.
     
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  15. missrebecca

    missrebecca Comrade

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    I don't think avoiding these activities is the same as shielding or sheltering the child. By being the only one who can't ever do a holiday activity, they're going to feel more like an outsider in our public schools than most of us do at that age. They're exposed to plenty of uncomfortable things.

    Personally, I'm not religious and I don't find holiday bulletin boards offensive, but I do understand that not everyone will get excited about holiday themes in the same way. I don't put up religious decorations because I've always had at least one Jehovah's Witness student in my class, because I don't personally feel attached to religious holidays, and because it's less work. ;)

    I don't think I would've let the principal know, only because it's more of the parent's issue than yours. If the student brings it up to their parent, then it's a problem. If not, then I would let it go. It's good that you reminded the music teacher, and hopefully she will be respectful of the student's religion in the future.
     
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  16. Backroads

    Backroads Aficionado

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    Oct 30, 2015

    Also, is it an actual rule or policy at your school to omit such things at parent request due to religion or simply a matter of respect for varying situations? If it's the latter, I have to wonder if the music teacher really stepped out of official bounds or just was less considerate. A teacher can't be punished if no rule or policy exists. I ask because while my school is fairly neutral on holidays, we do have a fair number of Jehovah's Witnesses and our policy to give nothing more than a heads up and an alternative if something holiday related does come up.
     
  17. TeacherNY

    TeacherNY Maven

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    I don't think it matters whether it's about religion or culture. The parents should realize that somewhere in the world the child will be exposed to different things. The child doesn't have to BELIEVE in it or agree with it. I think it's great that you are going out of your way to accommodate the family but they really have to understand that 99% of the people out there will NOT and, unless it's a district mandate, nobody will force them to accommodate them.
     
  18. missrebecca

    missrebecca Comrade

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    At the end of the day, I think avoiding exposing the child to something against their religion is more about parent satisfaction with the school. It's especially important to private or charter schools where parents are choosing (or paying) for their child to attend.

    Are the potential disgruntled emails/phone calls from parents worth it? It's up to the school or the teacher.
     
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  19. MissCeliaB

    MissCeliaB Aficionado

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    Parents should be able to request that students not be included in holiday activities if it is against their religion to participate in those. Therefore, if I knew I had a student for whom it would be a problem, I would not include holiday celebrations in the curriculum. I would include factual information about cultural and religious celebrations: Christians celebrate x, in Mexico they have this holiday and do this to celebrate, etc. I would not include cute worksheets with witches and skeletons for math class, because that is a celebration, not instructional about the holiday. There is a difference. That said, my high school students are currently doing a figurative language color by number and task cards from horror and gothic lit. (Thanks, TeachersPayTeachers...) But, my students are old enough to tell me if they can't do the activities, and know that I'll find alternates for them.
     
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  20. txmomteacher2

    txmomteacher2 Enthusiast

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    This is exactly what I have done. He isn't at school today so we did all the halloween stuff I could handle.
     
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  21. Backroads

    Backroads Aficionado

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    I find this an incredibly practical way to go about things.
     
  22. txmomteacher2

    txmomteacher2 Enthusiast

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    It is actually a matter of state law. It says parents can take their child out of any lesson they deem is against their beliefs. That being said, no the parents didn't come to school and take him out that day but we were all notified at the beginning of this year in a formal letter from the parent that he was not allowed to participate in certain things because of their beliefs.
     
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  23. TeacherNY

    TeacherNY Maven

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    I was at the grocery store and the library on Halloween and at least half the employees there were dressed in costume. The offended parents would have to keep their child in the house the whole day (in my town)or he would be exposed in some way to the holiday. Just my observation.
     
  24. gr3teacher

    gr3teacher Phenom

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    1) It sounds like you are going well beyond what could reasonably be asked of you.
    2) You alerted the music teacher to the parents' concerns. At that moment, your responsibility was done. I would consider you going to the administrator to be a huge overreach at that point. If the parents had gone to you, or to the principal, then relaying that conversation would have been important, but until then, it feels, intentionally or not, like you were tattling.
    3) If just watching a video dealing with a particular holiday is going to cause trouble with your student, then that student is going to have a looooooooooooooooong life ahead of him.
     
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  25. yellowdaisies

    yellowdaisies Fanatic

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    This whole thread is very interesting to me. Maybe it's because I'm in CA and we tend to be a lot more diverse than many other areas of the country in general, but when a kid in my class doesn't celebrate I barely bat an eye. I'm in my 4th year teaching and I've had Jehovah's Witnesses (more than one this year) in my class two of the four years. When I have them I don't do holiday stuff, I do seasonal stuff. When I don't have them, I do holiday stuff. It's not a big deal to me. I usually have 2-3 kids in my class every year who don't celebrate Halloween in particular. Fine with me - we'll stick with pumpkins/leaves/fall. Now that I teach 5th, it's barely even an issue. In 1st it was a little trickier, but manageable. OP, I'm surprised the student didn't say anything about the video while it was playing. My 1st graders would advocate for themselves about not participating in holiday related things.

    Anyway, I wouldn't worry too much about what happened in a specialist's class. That is not your responsibility and is not on you. It sounds like you've done a great job making the student and the parents feel comfortable, and I'm sure your positive relationship will continue.
     
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