It is truly amazing how every year, the eve of the first day of school, those butterflies in my stomach keeps me excited and awake! I love that feeling, though and wouldn't change it for anything at all. Our dear ESL CAFE is ready! I have received so many sincere compliments that it truly made my heart so big. The phrase I heard the most was, "it makes you want to be here all day long!" Mission accomplished. Earlier this year when I read the book Teaching with Intention by Debbie Diller, one of the things she asked is for teachers to reflect on the classroom environment. In other words, is it a reflection of the things that are happening in your teaching, is it a reflection of your teaching beliefs? I definitely feel very strong about how the environment plays an influential role in our daily learning. A clutter, noisy, disorganized space is not conducive to learning, that's for sure. Like I explained in my first post about the idea behind the ESL CAFE, this concept stem from the Literary Cafe back home, a place where I got lost in books, and one that helped my journey as a reader tremendously. I see the children's and parents enthusiasm in their faces when they see the room, so now, let the learning journey begins.
Yesterday I had the opportunity to listen Asma Mobin-Uddin talk about her latest book A Party in Ramadan. She gave an insightful presentation and book talk at our dear local bookstore Cover to Cover.
A Party in Ramadan is the story about this little girl Leena who gets invited to a party during Ramadan. Leena decides to attend the party anyways, but she will continue her fast. Her determination and strength is admirable. I enjoyed seeing how Leena's observation of Ramadan gives an opportunity for friends and neighbors to learn more about her faith.
After the booktalk, Asma Mobin-Uddin gave a presentation about Ramadan so that people would have a better understanding about this Muslim holiday. One of the challenges the author herself faced growing up was the fact that she was the only Muslim child in her school. Students, teachers, and friends didn't know much about this Muslim holiday and the importance of fasting during this time. Thus, she was asked a lot of questions and found herself explaining about it all the time. As she stated, "It would make things so much easier if people have a understanding about Ramadan." She is right, as teachers of children from diverse background it is our responsibility and personal journey to invest the time in learning more about our students.
Here are the things I learned about Ramadan, the holiest month of the Muslim year:
* Ramadan is the ninth month of the Islamic Calendar.
*The fast of Ramadan lasts the entire month. All those who reached the age of puberty are expected to fast during this month. Younger children are not expected to fast, but they are welcomed to fast as well if they would like to join.
*During the fast, Muslims are not allowed to eat or drink during the daylight hours, but they may eat after sunset.
*Ramadan is a time for Muslims to concentrate on the practice of their faith. They spend time praying, practicing and observing their religion. They are encouraged to practice patience, being kind and generous, avoid fighting or losing temper.
*Muslims believe that God reveal the Koran to people during Ramadan. Ramadan is a time to remember the poor and practice self-control. Ramadan teaches Muslims to be thankful for their blessings.
What are some implications for us educators? It is important for us as educators to...
*know who are our students that are observing Ramadan.
*find a place where they can go during lunch time like the library, help a teacher in a classroom.
* understand that gym class might be hard for Muslim students since they can't drink water. It would be wise to avoid or restrict some physical activities at school during this time.
* help other students and teachers understand and learn about Ramadan.
Friends, I hope this is helpful. I do believe it is our own personal journey to learn more about our students not only as learners but also as individuals. I wish you an extraordinary school year with many positive memories to hold.