Tuesday, May 3, 2011

It Is Still A Cinco de Mayo Celebration!

 I spent the evening watching my only son be recognized by a coach and teacher for a job well done. Looking at pictures of my child at different stages in his life, on a presentation screen, was a moving experience for me as a mother. During the presentation, I noticed my child's teacher with tears in his eyes as pictures of children flashed on a screen. I realized how important this one man had been in my own child's life. I really wanted to say THANK YOU TEACHER but I could not hold back the tears. I asked my husband to do this for me because I just couldn't. As we were leaving the banquet, we passed by the picture the students had signed for their teacher, as an end of the year gift, I searched for what my son had written. Simply said, he wrote... love you coach. My eyes were so filled with tears I had to walk out of the door. I realized this teacher has been an important part of my child's life...very important. What words would ever express my gratitude?

As I came home, I immediately went to my computer to see what was happening in the blogging world. I had a comment waiting.  It said, "I love the idea, but I would like to invite teachers to take this beyond sombreros, tacos and burritos! I hate all the stereotypes created behind this kind of unit." I respect that thought and opinion but I see things a little different.

My State requires me to teach that...
K.12 People learn about themselves through family customs and cultures
K12A Identify family customs and traditions and explain their importance
           Cinco de Mayo is observed nationwide in the US as a celebration of Mexican heritage and pride and
           it commemorates the Mexican army's unlikely victory over French forces at the battle of Puebla on
          May 5, 1862

In my classroom, we have spent an entire year learning and discussing the topic of diversity which includes a foundational understanding of heritage. I wrote and was awarded, a grant called Under One Sun...Celebrating Diversity For Everyone! Due to this grant, we have spent numerous hours learning about the similarities and differences in people and in Kindergarten we begin with "us", our classroom community. We have read numerous books, written about ourselves, our families and our family traditions and we have spent a year sharing those experiences with each other in order to learn about each other as a way to develop a foundational understanding in Social Studies. Once we have a better understanding of ourselves, we can better understand others, especially when we do not see eye to eye or get along. As Kindergarten teachers, we lay the foundation for a broader perspective in the subsequent school years and these early positive experiences are critical. During this school year each one of us has had to open our eyes and minds to different perspectives and ideas. We have had to respect things we may or may not agree with and at times our thinking has changed and we all have learned a new or different way of thinking about many different things.

In my class, I am the minority and at some point, everyone has realized that. I did not grow up recognizing Cinco de Mayo and a few of my students didn't either. Over the years, I have grown to love this time of year and you can ask anyone and they will tell you the same. And I am crazy in love with the donkey pinata you have seen on this blog. And this year I am crazy in love with the flags and sombreros the children have made. Those projects are included in our unit study because they are symbols to the children that represent their family, heritage and culture and remind them of times of celebration. The children also perform the Mexican Hat Dance and they wear clothes that represent their heritage that their families lovingly prepare or buy or create from what they have on hand. To us these items are not stereotypical they are authentic. We also share food with each other as well. We have also learned a lot about each other over some good food we have shared together much like a family eating a meal together. It never was about tacos or salads because it was more about what each of us brought to the table...our hearts. At Thanksgiving it was the contribution of everyone that made our vegetable soup a reality because our Kindergarten grown vegetable garden only produced lettuce. We would not have had a feast had it not been a combined and collected effort. And through that, we learned that we need each other.

I participate in this program because I believe it is important to celebrate or recognize the heritage of my students. I dance with an open heart and I sing with an open heart just like we all did for the Black History program and every other big or small event during the year. We have laughed together and learned together and I can tell you we care deeply about each other. I will cry a river of tears to say goodbye. I will say my official goodbye days before the end because I will react much like I did at my own son's presentation tonight but I won't have my husband beside me to say thank you...

And when I see the images of donkey pinatas, child painted sombreros and child created flags, I will think of the children of the past, present and future that I teach and I will have nothing but good thoughts and I will remind myself...

"It is in the spirit of ALL children that we dance."  Love, Mrs. Coe

More Cinco inspiration to come and keep sending your thoughts! THANK YOU TEACHERS!


Chrissy said...

Beautifully stated....

(Thanks for visiting me! :-))


Anonymous said...

I love how you speak from the heart. Your words are beautiful. Congratulations to your son, and remember, in the home of (at least) one of your students, there is a parent very thankful for you!

Dual Kinder Teacher said...

Seems to me that you have been celebrating diversity all year. It's so easy to just skip over these cultural holidays especially with 5 and 6 year olds. As our kids get older, I think they can handle a deeper meaning of these events. Any who, I'm your newest follower :)

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