At the start of our class I was nervous that I wouldn't have enough knowledge about each religion to speak about them to others. I felt I needed to become an expert, but over the course of the week I've come to believe that it's not so much having knowledge and answers but rather of having an open heart and an inquisitive mind. To know what questions to ask and to have a desire to learn more.
My essential question asked how I can use what I've learned in my classroom, specifically with my EL students that represent many different religions and regions. As I referenced in an earlier post, Sarah's message of not making a student feel different (despite good intentions of showing value in their diversity) will guide me. I intend to share with my class the highlights of my summer and will most definitely include taking the Religious Literacy for Educators class. My intention in doing so is twofold: I want my students to know that life-long learning is important to me and also that I have an interest in and am open-to learning about other religions. I hope this will make my students feel comfortable and valued. Perhaps they will share their beliefs with me or seek my help if they feel mistreated. Aside from that, I will keep my acknowledgement of students' religions to one on one interactions. If readings or current events lead to discussions on religion, I will not shy away from them but, at the same time, I will be careful to "teach not preach." Tolerance will be encouraged and stereotyping discouraged.
I plan to continue my path of religious literacy in the short-term by reading the materials I did not get to during our class or rereading the ones that will now be easier to digest. Ideally, I would love to take a second level Religious Literacy for Educators course! In addition, though my family and I have talked about this class each night, I'd like to take them to some of the places we've visited and have them experience the kind and welcoming people.
Finally, I'm grateful for my experiences this week. From our classroom discussions, the guest lecturers, individual conversations with my peers, blog reflections, John's amazing insights (WOW!) Jasper's artwork, and, most definitely, our field trips . . . it was the best professional development I've ever taken in District 214!
Thank you, John and anyone that had a hand in making this course a reality!