As the 2018-19 school year kicks off, every teacher is faced with the same question: what should I do on the first day?
Last year I did centers which worked relatively well. The only problem with that is we didn’t have any time as a class to be all together.
So, this year, before we start doing centers, my 7th graders will gather on the carpet like they did when they were in Kindergarten and we’ll read All are Welcome by Alexandra Penfold and Suzanne Kaufman.
It’s a picture book, so a nice short read. As the name implies, it’s about everyone being welcome in a classroom. It’s written in rhyme, so it has a nice flow to it. But what I love most of all are the illustrations.
Nearly every style of dress imaginable is present in this classroom. There are students with disabilities, and students with every skin tone. At lunch it is not all sandwiches and cereal (which seems to be the most common things brought to my school). There are noodles and breads and dishes I don’t recognize, but will be recognizable to my students.
The images show families walking to school. Some families have a mom and dad. Some have just a mom. Some have two moms. Some have two dads. Some have a grandma. The book tries to show that all families are welcome in the classroom.
My favorite quote in the book is this one…
We’re part of a community.
Our strength is our diversity.
A shelter from adversity.
All are welcome here.
For some of my students, this book will be nothing more than an excuse for them to sit on the floor and daydream. I know that. But for the student in my room who is from a different culture, this book means something. For the student who has a disability, this book means something. For the student who comes from a nontraditional family, this book means something.
On the last day of school last year I saw a tweet from a teacher who had a sign on her door about being outside for class that day. But the sign next to it caught my attention. It made it clear, that all students were welcome in her classroom. And so, following her lead, this sign is on my door this year. I want my students to know from the second the enter my class, all are welcome.