Acknowledging Student Perspectives: Holiday Break Dilemma

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December 19, 2023

This is the fourth in a series of guest blogs by the 2023-24 Michigan Regional Teachers of the Year. Bridgit Sova is a special education teacher at H.H. Dow High School in Midland Public Schools.

With the holiday season upon us, and the excitement in the air becoming palpable, it’s essential for educators to pause and reflect on the diverse experiences our students bring into the classroom. While many eagerly anticipate the upcoming holiday break, it’s crucial to recognize that not every student shares the same sentiment.

As educators, our role extends beyond the curriculum; it involves understanding and supporting the individual needs and circumstances of our students. In this blog post, we’ll explore the reasons why not all students look forward to the holiday break and discuss how teachers can be more cognizant of their students’ diverse perspectives.

Diverse Family Dynamics

The holiday season is often associated with warmth, joy and family gatherings. However, not every student experiences these sentiments. Some students may come from families facing financial hardships, separation or other challenging circumstances. For them, the prospect of a holiday break may bring about stress, uncertainty or even sadness. It’s essential for teachers to be mindful of these diverse family dynamics and create a supportive classroom environment that acknowledges and respects each student’s situation.

Academic Stress

While the holiday break is a time for rest and rejuvenation, it can also be a source of anxiety for some students. The academic pressure leading up to the break may weigh heavily on their minds, causing them to worry about upcoming exams, projects, or assignments. Recognizing this stress and offering reassurance can go a long way in helping students feel supported during this challenging time.

Isolation and Loneliness

For some students, the holiday break may mean a break from the routine of social interactions that school provides. The absence of daily connections with friends and teachers can lead to feelings of isolation and loneliness, particularly for those who may not have a robust support system outside of school. Teachers can play a vital role in addressing this by fostering a sense of community within the classroom and providing resources for students to stay connected during the break.

Cultural and Religious Sensitivity

The holiday season often carries cultural and religious connotations that may not align with every student’s background. It’s important for educators to be sensitive to diverse cultural and religious practices, ensuring that classroom activities and discussions are inclusive and respectful of varying beliefs. By acknowledging and celebrating this diversity, teachers can create an inclusive environment that values and appreciates each student’s individuality.
As teachers, our commitment to the well-being of our students extends far beyond the academic realm. The holiday break serves as a poignant reminder that our students come from diverse backgrounds, each with their unique set of experiences and challenges.

By being cognizant of this diversity and fostering a supportive and inclusive learning environment, we can ensure that every student feels seen, heard and valued, even during a time traditionally associated with joy and celebration.

This holiday season, let’s strive to create classrooms that embrace the richness of our students’ lives, offering understanding and support to those who may not share in the universal excitement surrounding the upcoming break.