In Response to the Bitmoji Classroom
When you're preparing your back to school lesson plans, PearDeck infused Google Slides, or whatever you are doing, don't forget Rios v. Reed (1978).
"A denial of educational opportunities to a child in the first years of schooling is not justified by demonstrating that the educational program employed will teach the child English sooner than a program comprised of more extensive Spanish instruction."
If you cannot fluently speak your student's language, what tools/resources are you using to make sure your students feel seen, heard, and valuable in your English only classroom environment?
Are you allowing students to speak in their home language? How often? This includes augmentative or alternative communication devices (AAC).
Lack of verbal contribution in the language of instruction does not constitute a lack of understanding of the concept.
In your physical classroom space, you could prompt turn and talk with heterogenous or homogenous groupings based on language. How are you doing that in Google Classroom and beyond?
Get yourself involved in translation support apps, Flipgrid, or Talking Points and any method for recording/translating voice. Being a culturally responsive teacher means being a LINGUISTICALLY responsive teacher.
If you are deciding to choose between spending time building a #BitmojiClassroom or creating a safe space for students to learn, take risks, and develop their internal/external voice: I hope you stop with the search for the cutest background and ensure your classroom allows for all students to feel seen, heard, and valued. If you have fear, nervousness, hesitation around incorporating/acknowledging your student's 1st language, think about the privilege you hold to be in charge of this learning space.
Have I used Bitmoji to spice up my slides, YES. If for some reason I am sharing my screen, and my students cannot see my face, I want my likeness to be there as a comfort for them. That little bitmoji in the corner screams: "I am here, I am with you, this is silly, and we are doing it."
We all have the urge to be in control of something during a time where we feel wildly out of control. If building your bitmoji classroom is your way of grounding yourself in your work, DO IT. Then move on. If your method for developing a sense of control is decorating your home and work space, DO IT. Then move on. Get yourself mentally prepared and then come back to the why.
You are creating your classroom environment; you are creating the place for learning. What you spend time making can be the foundation of learning as 'safe,' 'empowering,' and impact someone's perspective of school.