What will be Jewish about my classroom?
When I think of my classroom next year, what I see as Jewish is the fluency of Jewishness in the class. This means that all students feel comfortable in their Jewishness and know it is a safe place to be Jewish. In my own childhood, I found that I was the “token” Jew—the one Jewish friend of my group of friends to whom all questions about being Jewish were posed. There is something nice, safe and comfortable about being in place where you don't have to take on this role—instead you can just be your Jewish self. Essentially, I want to the classroom to be a place for my students to just be Jewish, and to feel comfortable knowing that they are in a community that is fluent in being Jewish. (Maybe like how Jewish camp feels, where you can breathe some relief and be your Jewish self.)
In practical and day-to-day terms, I see my classroom as being Jewish because there will be Jewish rituals practiced—netilat yadayim, tefillot, brachot, birkat hamazon, and Jewish subjects being learned—holidays, parshiyot, etc. I would like to infuse these rituals in the kids: to say a blessing every day before eating lunch; to wash hands and say the prayer every day before washing hands; to engage in conversations about prayer and what it means; to engage in personal prayer; to think about G-d and what G-d means to each student personally. It would be great to compose poetry or free writing about G-d, even if a student hasn't committed to any one definition or belief of G-d.
I would like for students to be versed in the many holidays and their significance, especially the origins of the holidays and some of their ties to nature and the harvest. I want my students to have a pluralistic and accurate account of the rich traditions of our shared tradition!