Supporting students in their religious practices
Thirsty for a Strong Instructional Practice?
April 9, 2020
With everything moving online so quickly, many of us might forget that this spring is a time of many religious holidays that our students, and ourselves, will still be trying to celebrate. Supporting students right now means supporting their whole selves, and for many of them, giving a little space to honor their religions is so helpful to their overall mental and physical well-being.
Take a SIP of this: supporting students in their religious practices
One of the biggest things we can do for students is to allow for flexible grading around the time of religious holidays. Technically, we do not have to be flexible for students’ religions unless they let us know about their need ahead of time, but we can take this burden away in several ways.
- Send a reminder email that says: “If your religious holiday is coming up and you need a few extra days to finish X, please just email me and let me know.”
- Look at what is planned over the next few months and plan flexible due dates (SIP 10.9 on flexible due dates) around the major holidays. For example, instead of an assignment being due on a Sunday at midnight, you can have it due between Saturday at 6 a.m. and Monday at midnight. Note that Blackboard will not give you date ranges, but you can choose the latest date you are willing to accept the assignment, change the information in your week-by-week course schedule and send out a reminder of the flexibility through Blackboard as well.
- Think about what you know about some of the major holidays already. For example, Muslim students will be fasting for Ramadan, so if you have something that must be accomplished in a two-hour window, consider whether you can offer it first thing in the morning, right before fasts begin, rather than in late afternoon – as hungry people do not perform as well on academic tasks.
- For now and for future semesters, if you are offering live office hours when you are available, try to vary them in case your live office hours fall when people need to pray or to not use electronics.
- Remind students that there are religious organizations on campus if they need added support from their faith communities: the Muslim Student Association, the Auraria Campus Ministry, Chabad of Auraria Campus; they can find more from Center for Multicultural Engagement and Inclusion.
Here are some major holidays between now and the end of the semester:
- April 10: Good Friday, Christian holiday
- April 12: Easter Sunday, Christian holiday
- April 16: Last Day of Passover, Jewish holiday
- April 17: Orthodox Good Friday, Orthodox holiday
- April 19: Orthodox Easter, Orthodox holiday
- April 22: Ramadan starts, Muslim holiday
- May 24: Eid al-Fitr, Muslim holiday
Still thirsty? Take another SIP of this: supporting students in their religious practices
- A good link with holidays of even more religions
- Huffington Post article What it’s like to be a Muslim college student today (2017)
- Testing and fasting
- Tanenbaum Combatting Religious Prejudice
Visit the Well for more great ideas and resources for Strong Instructional Practices in your higher-education classroom.
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