First comes Thanksgiving -- which should focus on thanks and mindfulness that there are two sides to every story. A teacher from Rosebud Elementary summed it up this way: “I think teachers need to go back and rethink the things we were taught. The hardest thing for anyone to do is to suspend all of your beliefs and think that everything you were taught was not necessarily wrong, but that there’s another side to the story.” Chris Mosner, teacher, Rosebud Elementary, Rosebud, S.D. (http://lenapeprograms.info/teacher-parent-resources/culturally-responsive-curriculum/).
It’s not easy to teach about holidays and history in a way that is culturally sensitive and accurate. History books still gloss over unpleasant facts, as shown in Lies My Teacher Told Me: Everything Your American History Textbook Got Wrong by James W. Loewen. History was often brutal and not age appropriate, but every lesson can be an exercise in critical thinking using subject matter appropriate to the particular grade and level of student at hand. A great activity for every age is to find appropriate primary sources and have students write or talk about them -- wampum, for example, or the Mayflower Compact or a comparison of December holidays from around the world.
There are great resources for teaching from the perspective of cultural competence at http://www.tolerance.org/category/blogs-and-articles/teaching/cultural-competence and
http://www.nea.org/tools/30402.htm. So brush up and go forth and don't be afraid to change what you've always done and mix it up a bit...it's a different world out there...let's make it an inclusive one for all of our students.