In the important new book, You Can’t Celebrate That! (part of the Reimagining Our Work Collection and a companion piece to Ann Pelo and Margie Carter’s From Teaching to Thinking), Nadia Jaboneta describes a moment with children where “my heart raced, even as it felt like time stopped for a moment .” During lunch time, as one child described how he’d be celebrating Rosh Hashana, another child exclaimed: “You can’t celebrate that! Only people with white skin can celebrate that! That’s what my Dad said.”
As Pelo and Carter explain in the Study Guide that accompanies the book, what followed was an unsettling time where “Nadia describes a chorus of voices in her head as she feels her way towards a response - her sister and Dad, her co-workers and supervisors, even aspects of her own identity make suggestions and offer challenges. Nadia’s reflections serve as useful coaching for all of us to stay conscious of the perspectives, experiences, and relationships that shape our teaching...
In the days following the conversation about Rosh Hashana Nadia continues to model self-awareness - and the courage to take emotional risks with parents, co-workers, and administrators. A masterful teacher, she recognizes her uncertainty about the ‘right’ thing to do; in fact she abandons the idea that there is one right way, and instead focuses on cornerstone questions to guide her work [questions such as: ‘How are children thinking about race and racism, and what is my responsibility to them?]...
Nadia’s questions remind us that we do our best work as educators when we’re asking questions of ourselves, rather than focusing solely on asking the children questions, or on our learning goals for them. Nadia is self-aware, and uncertain, and vulnerable in not-knowing - qualities of an educator (a human being!) committed to continued growth.”
Navigating the Deep Waters of Social Justice Teaching
Find inspiration in this compelling story of an educator's social justice journey as she partners with families to explore racial identity, religious celebrations, and racism in response to a biased comment by one child to another in her diverse preschool class.
You Can't Celebrate That! is part of the Reimagining Our Work (ROW) collection. Use the ROW collection to discover how early childhood educators in the field are reimagining their work and thinking alongside children.
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