Wearing the hijab while teaching

Discussion in 'Debate & Marathon Threads Archive' started by Alizeh, Jun 4, 2013.

Thread Status:
Not open for further replies.
  1. Alizeh

    Alizeh Rookie

    Joined:
    Jun 4, 2013
    Messages:
    24
    Likes Received:
    0

    Jun 4, 2013

    Hello everyone!

    I was just hired to teach English in a suburban public high school. I think will be teaching 9th and 11th grade, but that is subject to change. I am Muslim, and as part of my faith, I choose to wear the hijab. I was hired in the school, so I know that the school administration does not have a problem with it. However, does anyone foresee any problems with students or parents?

    Also, I have another question about religion in public schools. If a student asks me about my religious beliefs, should I tell them that I am Muslim or simply state that I cannot discuss my beliefs with them? Do you ever discuss your religious beliefs with your students?

    Thank you!
     
  2.  
  3. JustMe

    JustMe Virtuoso

    Joined:
    Jun 7, 2006
    Messages:
    7,946
    Likes Received:
    3

    Jun 4, 2013

    I would say to certainly wear it and I would answer however you're comfortable. Muslim is simple enough an answer, but I understand some don't want to answer that question. I'm very open with students, but that's the one question I avoid because my answer would be problematic.
     
  4. blazer

    blazer Connoisseur

    Joined:
    Feb 18, 2009
    Messages:
    1,646
    Likes Received:
    370

    Jun 4, 2013

  5. Peregrin5

    Peregrin5 Maven

    Joined:
    Aug 25, 2011
    Messages:
    5,770
    Likes Received:
    1,002

    Jun 4, 2013

    One of the Special Ed. case managers at our school wears hijab. Nobody has made anything big about it. I think I remember some my teachers growing up wore hijab as well. Of course I live in California in the Bay Area, so there is a lot more tolerance for other cultures here than in some places in the US.

    I personally don't think it would matter if you told students you were Muslim. As blazer stated, they could probably make a good guess anyway if you were wearing a hijab.

    I don't share my religious views in depth, but some of them ask me if I believe in God. I say "yes, I think there might be a god." I don't go any further than that personally.
     
  6. lucybelle

    lucybelle Connoisseur

    Joined:
    Jan 26, 2012
    Messages:
    1,841
    Likes Received:
    51

    Jun 4, 2013

    I don't discuss religion because I know my views are so different than my students. My usual response is "that doesn't have anything to do with science" or "does it matter?"

    But I like to keep my personal life personal. Most of my students don't know I'm married and occasionally ask if I have a boyfriend. I want them to think of me as a teacher and nothing else. I'm not a "person", I'm a "teacher"! :)

    Answer whatever you feel comfortable with. Whatever you don't want to answer, come up with a general response that basically means "I'm not telling"
     
  7. jenneke607

    jenneke607 Rookie

    Joined:
    Jun 19, 2007
    Messages:
    71
    Likes Received:
    0

    Jun 4, 2013

    Mabrouk!

    I wouldn't foresee any major problems with students or parents. It's impossible to predict, of course, but I have had uniformly positive experiences wearing a hijab in a suburban Boston school. When asked, I do tell students that I'm Muslim, and we leave it at that. Sometimes I'll mention that I love how we have such a diverse school, where people that believe all different things come together to form a community. I work 0.9FTE so that I'm able to attend the khutbah on Fridays, and when asked I will openly tell students that I am leaving to go to the masjid/mosque. If they ask what it is -- an 8th grader didn't know last week -- I tell them it's a place that I go to focus on how I can become a better person. I listen to a speaker every week, and then talk with friends about improving ourselves and our community. (This is my explanation for the elementary set.) I don't discuss personal beliefs beyond that.

    Most of the comments I get from students center on how much they like the scarves! Sometimes students request different colors, or mention that they like the beads I add. Non-Muslim parents have never said anything. (Muslim parents thank me for working with their children.) I do think that the town where I work tends to be more welcoming of diversity.

    Be proud, hijabi. :) Have a great summer, and a great first year!
     
  8. 2ndTimeAround

    2ndTimeAround Phenom

    Joined:
    Aug 10, 2010
    Messages:
    4,330
    Likes Received:
    572

    Jun 4, 2013

    I don't see why it would matter if anyone has a problem with you wearing it. However, I would caution mentioning your religion.

    A coworker of mine has had several complaints because she has mentioned she is a Christian to her students. Once her students asked point blank if she was and she answered yes. Another time she was asked to confirm if she attended the same church as another student. She did.

    She wears a cross around her neck and it is obvious from her dress that she is Christian, but for some reason confirming it verbally caused a big stink.
     
  9. sevenplus

    sevenplus Connoisseur

    Joined:
    Aug 3, 2006
    Messages:
    1,670
    Likes Received:
    34

    Jun 4, 2013

    I suppose it depends on the population of your area and school, but around here I'd be surprised if there were any problems with students or parents. At any rate, you are protected by law.

    I think it would be fine to tell students you are Muslim if they ask. I also think it would be fine to explain why you dress the way you do. You can't teach your religious beliefs, but it isn't wrong to answer students' questions.
     
  10. Ms.SLS

    Ms.SLS Cohort

    Joined:
    Mar 30, 2011
    Messages:
    681
    Likes Received:
    0

    Jun 4, 2013

    My students ask what religion I am all the time (big catholic community). I tell them, we move on, no issues. Sometimes they ask the difference between Catholicism and Christianity (as in, non-catholic Christianity) so I tell them what I know. It's never been a problem, and I think it's fine as long as you're answering questions, not trying to preach.

    Although, I work with older kids. I could see how it would become more complicated with younger kids.
     
  11. Alizeh

    Alizeh Rookie

    Joined:
    Jun 4, 2013
    Messages:
    24
    Likes Received:
    0

    Jun 4, 2013

    Thank you all for the responses.

    I would never push my faith upon my students. I just want to make sure that it's acceptable for me to state that I am Muslim if a student asks. I am probably not comfortable discussing my reasons for wearing the hijab. If a student asks why I cover my head, I would just like to say that it's a part of my faith. Is that alright?
     
  12. Ms.SLS

    Ms.SLS Cohort

    Joined:
    Mar 30, 2011
    Messages:
    681
    Likes Received:
    0

    Jun 4, 2013

    I would think that is a totally acceptable answer, and at the high school age, they should have enough social graces to not push the envelope any further (even though some still might).
     
  13. Rhesus

    Rhesus Comrade

    Joined:
    Jun 2, 2013
    Messages:
    386
    Likes Received:
    3

    Jun 4, 2013

    I always thought it was okay to talk about any religion in an objective, factual way.
     
  14. Alizeh

    Alizeh Rookie

    Joined:
    Jun 4, 2013
    Messages:
    24
    Likes Received:
    0

    Jun 4, 2013

    Thank you--that is what I am hoping for. I am definitely not looking to get into religious discussions with my students, but want a response prepared in case I am asked.
     
  15. catnfiddle

    catnfiddle Moderator

    Joined:
    May 8, 2008
    Messages:
    8,360
    Likes Received:
    1,495

    Jun 4, 2013

    I cannot imagine there are still people out there who have not seen a hijab, so they will probably recognize it even if they haven't met anyone personally who wears one. Women, particularly married women, cover their hair as a sign of modesty in several religions and cultures. If I were more orthodox in my religion (Judaism), I would cover my hair with a scarf or wear a wig. If asked, feel comfortable saying that it's a personal choice and an important aspect of your faith.

    Congratulations on your teaching position! Always good to hear when a fellow English Language Arts teacher gets a job.
     
  16. AdamnJakesMommy

    AdamnJakesMommy Habitué

    Joined:
    Jul 1, 2012
    Messages:
    919
    Likes Received:
    40

    Jun 4, 2013

    I think it will depend on the region of the country you are in, even down to the particular city/part of the city. In the town where I live, most parents WOULD have a problem with it. In the city I work, most parents would not, and there is only an hour's distance between the two.
     
  17. readingrules12

    readingrules12 Aficionado

    Joined:
    Jul 3, 2010
    Messages:
    3,038
    Likes Received:
    512

    Jun 4, 2013

    Yes, if it is very important to you and your P says OK then you should wear it.

    If someone asks if you are Muslim you can tell them, but I was told the law is that you are not to initiate a discussion about your religion in a public school. Therefore, if someone doesn't ask you, then you shouldn't bring it up. This is from my former P, and I don't pretend to be an expert in the law, so I am sure some might know more.

    I think it is great that you are teaching. As you are aware of, there is prejudice out there against lots of religions such as Muslims, Jews, Catholics, and many more. It is great for high schoolers to see that there are caring teachers in all of these religions. Good luck to you. :)
     
  18. Ms B IL

    Ms B IL Rookie

    Joined:
    Sep 7, 2012
    Messages:
    39
    Likes Received:
    0

    Jun 4, 2013

    I don't know if it was meant this way, but this part of your post seems to imply that the principal (or any employer) can veto or override your choice to wear the hijab. This is absolutely untrue and you may wear your hijab regardless of how anyone else in your workplace feels about it.

    I think you have gotten excellent advice for how to handle questions and I think it would be perfectly acceptable to answer that you wear it "because of my religious beliefs" or "because I am a Muslim." Whatever you feel most comfortable saying to explain will be the best response.
     
  19. Jinkies

    Jinkies Rookie

    Joined:
    May 2, 2011
    Messages:
    64
    Likes Received:
    0

    Jun 4, 2013

    I remember having a substitute teacher who wore a hijab. Congrats on the job :)
     
  20. Linguist92021

    Linguist92021 Phenom

    Joined:
    Feb 4, 2010
    Messages:
    4,830
    Likes Received:
    1,037

    Jun 4, 2013

    One more vote for 'definitely wear it, no questions about it'.

    As far as religion and discussions on it, I always thought we can factually discuss religion. I think my students heard that there is a law about it, but they must have misinterpret it. They very passionately say 'you cannot talk about religion at all!' (this was in 2 regions, 6 hours away, at several schools). They make it sound like I could get n trouble by saying something like most people in South America are Christian. (??)

    My understanding of it is, (and I told them) that I can even teach them about religion as facts, such as x amount of people of Christian in the world, this is what their religion consists of, Judaism's concepts of belief is X, Y, and Z, Muslims believe.....
    As long as I'm not telling them what to believe, not go into it too much and too often.
    I have only taught an overview of religions as part of a Christmas around the world theme, which we, as a school were supposed to do. It was at the lock up and my students must have complained enough that I had some 'visitors' (probably from probation), came in, listened to the lesson, left and I never heard anything of it (not from my P or anyone, not even sure if that's why they came in). BTW that's when I first started so my students resisted anything I tried to teach.
    Other than that I only discuss (mention religion) as it comes up, and when I was teaching geography, it came up briefly with each region, but of course we didn't go into it.
     
  21. readingrules12

    readingrules12 Aficionado

    Joined:
    Jul 3, 2010
    Messages:
    3,038
    Likes Received:
    512

    Jun 4, 2013

    No, that isn't what I meant. I understand she has the right to wear the hijab. I think it is always best to take the polite route though and ask. Any boss appreciates that kind of respect.
     
  22. Caesar753

    Caesar753 Multitudinous

    Joined:
    Jun 10, 2007
    Messages:
    14,468
    Likes Received:
    2,485

    Jun 4, 2013

    No. Asking implies that the principal has the power to grant or deny the request. He doesn't.
     
  23. TeacherGroupie

    TeacherGroupie Moderator

    Joined:
    May 13, 2005
    Messages:
    29,706
    Likes Received:
    1,122

    Jun 4, 2013

    There IS much to be said for giving the principal an FYI heads up, however, which is a somewhat different matter.
     
  24. Caesar753

    Caesar753 Multitudinous

    Joined:
    Jun 10, 2007
    Messages:
    14,468
    Likes Received:
    2,485

    Jun 4, 2013

    Fair enough.

    I just don't agree with the idea of asking for permission or making sure that the principal "is okay with it". I mean, what happens if the principal says she can't wear it or he isn't okay with it? Now the teacher has to defy the wishes of the principal. Or worse, it's just turned into a discrimination case and the principal's defense is "Well, she asked me for permission so I thought it was optional!" A bad situation all around.
     
  25. readingrules12

    readingrules12 Aficionado

    Joined:
    Jul 3, 2010
    Messages:
    3,038
    Likes Received:
    512

    Jun 4, 2013

    In theory you have a good point, but in reality asking really works. When I had a death in the family, I could have just said that I am leaving I will be gone __Days for a funeral, but I politely asked. If my P would have said "no", then I could play the card that says well I do get ___ days under my contract for family emergencies.

    No one likes to be told what to do, they'd rather be asked--especially a boss. If a boss wants to be a jerk about it, then the worker still can exercise their rights. Rights of a worker aren't forfeited just because they choose to be polite and ask.
     
  26. vlcmchick

    vlcmchick Rookie

    Joined:
    Jul 8, 2012
    Messages:
    8
    Likes Received:
    2

    Jun 4, 2013

    I am assuming the OP was wearing the hijab during her interview, so I'd say the principal has already been given sufficient notice.
     
  27. JustMe

    JustMe Virtuoso

    Joined:
    Jun 7, 2006
    Messages:
    7,946
    Likes Received:
    3

    Jun 4, 2013

    Notice for what?! Who the heck needs advance notice for this?!
     
  28. jenneke607

    jenneke607 Rookie

    Joined:
    Jun 19, 2007
    Messages:
    71
    Likes Received:
    0

    Jun 4, 2013

    I agree! I can't speak for the original poster, but I did not interpret her post as an inquiry into whether or not she should wear the hijab. The question posted -- whether or not we foresee any difficulty with students or parents -- might be so she can prepare herself. Definitely, it's wise to have thought about answers to some common students questions (e.g. why do you wear it, etc.)

    Regarding permission: it is one thing to ask for permission for a day off, or to take initiative on a project, or for help editing a note to a parent. The administration does NOT need to be asked for permission to wear a hijab (or a yarmulke, or a kufi, or whatever). If I were an administrator, I would be worried about a staff member that would even consider forgoing his or her right to wear these things at the whim of a principal.
     
  29. lucybelle

    lucybelle Connoisseur

    Joined:
    Jan 26, 2012
    Messages:
    1,841
    Likes Received:
    51

    Jun 5, 2013

    Completely agree.

    I feel like that'd be like me going to administration and asking if I can get a haircut.
     
  30. TeacherGroupie

    TeacherGroupie Moderator

    Joined:
    May 13, 2005
    Messages:
    29,706
    Likes Received:
    1,122

    Jun 5, 2013

    Consulting with the administration as to what to say and what to anticipate would still be prudent, however.
     
  31. JustMe

    JustMe Virtuoso

    Joined:
    Jun 7, 2006
    Messages:
    7,946
    Likes Received:
    3

    Jun 5, 2013

    This is far different from an "giving the principal an FYI heads up". I don't think anyone needs a warning in this situation.
     
  32. TeacherGroupie

    TeacherGroupie Moderator

    Joined:
    May 13, 2005
    Messages:
    29,706
    Likes Received:
    1,122

    Jun 5, 2013

    Someone might appreciate one, however.
     
  33. orangetea

    orangetea Connoisseur

    Joined:
    Jan 12, 2012
    Messages:
    1,600
    Likes Received:
    0

    Jun 5, 2013

    I disagree that you need to give your admin any kind of warning or ask for any kind of approval. You wore your hijab for the interview, so administration is probably already aware. Even if they were unaware, you should not feel the need to talk to your admin unless you have questions about how to handle student questions. But I think the answers you have in mind are perfect!

    I have had students ask me what my religious beliefs are and I have no problem telling them that I am Hindu, but I don't go any further than that.
     
  34. smurfette

    smurfette Habitué

    Joined:
    Nov 25, 2008
    Messages:
    895
    Likes Received:
    0

    Jun 5, 2013

    Are you at a public school? Unless you are at a religious school, you do not need even need to give your principal a heads-up that you are going to wear a hijab or that you are a Muslim.

    I just wonder if we were talking about wearing a cross or a Star of David on a chain if people would still think the principal would deserve/appreciate a heads-up? :confused:
     
  35. Alizeh

    Alizeh Rookie

    Joined:
    Jun 4, 2013
    Messages:
    24
    Likes Received:
    0

    Jun 5, 2013

    Thanks for the responses everyone! A previous poster was correct in stating that I am not asking whether I should cover my hair or not, just wondering how to handle student questions and if I can anticipate problems from students or parents. I have only been wearing the hijab for about 8 months so it is still somewhat new to me and I'm still not sure what kinds of reactions to expect.I did wear the hijab on my interview so I think the admin knows I will be wearing it to work. :)

    I'm not sure if I'm comfortable talking to admin about how to handle student questions until I get to know them better since I was only just hired.
     
  36. Alizeh

    Alizeh Rookie

    Joined:
    Jun 4, 2013
    Messages:
    24
    Likes Received:
    0

    Jun 5, 2013

    Yes, it is a public school. :)
     
  37. AdamnJakesMommy

    AdamnJakesMommy Habitué

    Joined:
    Jul 1, 2012
    Messages:
    919
    Likes Received:
    40

    Jun 5, 2013

    I will talk about religion with my kids, I am a social studies teacher, but I never tell them that any religion is the "right" one. It is okay to talk about the role of religion in history, the beliefs and tenets of religions, and distinctions b/w them. It becomes "wrong" when a public school teacher begins telling their religious beliefs in the classroom as if they are the correct beliefs and another religion's beliefs are incorrect.

    Personally, I have my beliefs and if kids ask me what my religion is, I tell them. I will volunteer the information too if it's pertinent to my lesson--when discussing the Catholic Church in medieval Europe and early modern Europe, for example, it can be construed that the "facts" are an affront on the Catholic Church, particularly when discussing Luther's criticisms of the Catholic Church. I'm quick to point out that the facts are what they are, that I'm Catholic and even though certain things are no longer a part of the Catholic Church, they may be a part of its past--> but I am in no way, shape, or form criticizing the Catholic Church, obviously, because I am a member.
     
  38. AdamnJakesMommy

    AdamnJakesMommy Habitué

    Joined:
    Jul 1, 2012
    Messages:
    919
    Likes Received:
    40

    Jun 5, 2013

    As for the administration/head covering issue, if I were converting to Islam, for example, I would inform the administration before dramatically altering my appearance. Not for the sake of permission, but for the sake of courtesy--so I understand that point that was being made. In the OP's case, her religion was likely evident in the interview, in which case it would not be necessary to bring it up to the administration because I hope, for the sake of American education, they were aware that the hijab was not a hair accessory which she happened to wear just for an interview.
     
  39. K1teach

    K1teach Companion

    Joined:
    Jul 31, 2008
    Messages:
    132
    Likes Received:
    1

    Jun 5, 2013

    Definitely wear it, if that is what you want to do. And kudos to you for thinking ahead about what to say to students. I don't think you need to ask permission from the administration, but it might help everyone if you let them know what you were saying to the students, only because there might be parents that go directly to the administration. If the administrators know what you are telling the students, they can reassure the parents and say, "I know the teacher is saying X, Y,Z." instead of "I don't know exactly what she is saying but I am sure it is fine." or "I don't know, let me check and get back to you." Every administrator I have worked under has preferred to know ahead of time rather than be caught by surprise. Hope this helps!
     
  40. pwhatley

    pwhatley Maven

    Joined:
    Apr 14, 2007
    Messages:
    5,276
    Likes Received:
    1

    Jun 5, 2013

    As a parent, I personally think that, as long as you maintain your professionalism and do not "advocate" a particular religious point of view (which I do not foresee you doing), you will be fine. I live in one of the most divided and prejudiced parts of our country, and I firmly believe that we all NEED to know more about people who are unlike ourselves!

    That being said, as a teacher, I have sadly had experiences that have shown me that parents can have problems with ANYTHING. I've even had the parent of a first grader tell me that our math was too hard! (I've also had a parent tell her child that she didn't have to "do what that white woman" told her to do.) (BTW, I'm Native American, lol!) Stay professional in your demeanor, and any parental complaints that you do experience will have no "teeth," as they say.

    Congratulations on your new position - it sounds like you are a thoughtful and thorough person - you should do well!
     
  41. blazer

    blazer Connoisseur

    Joined:
    Feb 18, 2009
    Messages:
    1,646
    Likes Received:
    370

    Jun 6, 2013

    In the UK there have been cases where women who wear the veil and refuse to remove it have been fired or refused a job on the grounds that to be a teacher the kids have to see your face. Wearing a head scarf is fine though.
     
Thread Status:
Not open for further replies.

Share This Page

Members Online Now

  1. Linguist92021,
  2. 3Sons,
  3. YoungTeacherGuy,
  4. waterfall
Total: 212 (members: 5, guests: 191, robots: 16)
test