Considerations for Educators Supporting Muslim Students in Post-Pandemic Ramadan

Mark your calendars! This year, Ramadan is expected to start on Saturday, April 2, 2022, and end on Sunday, May 1, 2022. 

One can start this by wishing someone a happy Ramadan and saying “Ramadan Kareem!” or “Ramadan Mubarak!”  Educators can also take additional affirmative steps to support and accommodate their Muslim students’ religious needs during such a significant period, as well as to address common misconceptions about Islam and fasting in the school community.  

Islam is built on five pillars which represent its core beliefs and practices. They are: Profession of Faith (Shahada), prayer (Salat), alms (Zakat), fasting (Sawm) and pilgrimage (Hajj). Sawm, which means fasting, is the fourth pillar of Islam observed during the month of Ramadan. Ramadan is the ninth month in the Islamic calendar during which only healthy adults and young adolescents who passed the age of puberty observe an obligatory act of fasting. The importance of the month commemorates the first revelation day of the Qur’an called Laylat al-Qadr (the night of decree) hidden in one of the days of the holy Ramadan month. Fasting is practiced in various dominant religions including Christianity and Judaism. Unlike these religions, in Islam fasting is refraining from all food, water and other human desires from dawn to dusk for 30 days. Through this temporary deprivation, Muslims are allowed to control their needs, desires, and distractions, giving themselves room to reflect upon their gratitude, devotion, and submission to Almighty Allah. Hence, Ramadan is the month of empowerment because people realize that desires do not drive a person, but it is the person who holds control over them. Fasting is also a learnable moment to share the hunger and thirst of the needy as a reminder of the religious duty to help those less fortunate.  

Some Muslim students may feel lonely or isolated during this period. There are a few suggestions for educators to continuously support their students during Ramadan and show compassion to their religious practice.


  • offering a safe place for fasting students to go during lunchtime so that they could rest during breaks
  • avoiding consuming food and beverages in front of these students whenever possible.
  • rearranging high stake exams to be done during the morning sessions closer to when Muslim students have eaten
  • offering alternative, i.e., less intensive, activities during PE classes
  • offering short breaks during lessons
  • avoiding questioning a student if they are fasting or not
  • not planning tests or exams on a recognized religious holiday like Eid-al Fitr

Students might show exhaustion and sleepiness at different levels, not necessarily because of hunger or thirst, but because of changes in sleeping and eating routine. Fasting students and their parents wake up early in the morning to perform morning prayer and have a meal before dawn known as suhoor. The Iftar time, the meal at breaking fast during sunset comes 14-15 hours after suhoor. Because of these changes, fatigue may be noticeably enhanced during this time. Showing compassion and empathy to students during this special time is a good starting point for the normalization of cultural and religious sensitivity. Teachers can encourage students and their colleagues to fast for at least one day in solidarity with Muslim students and/or organize a “Dawn to Dusk fasting” challenge in support of Muslim communities.

Muslim communities are not monolith. Islamic practices may vary from culture to culture and from family to family. While some cultures allow children to fast at the age of seven for several hours a day, others do not. While some families perform additional Tarawih prayers in the evening and spend several hours at night reciting the Qur’an, others do not. For these reasons, communication with students and their families about their Ramadan traditions is the best option to get to know their way of observing Ramadan.

After a month of devotion and self-control, Muslims around the world celebrate the accomplishments of sacred duties performed during Ramadan with the tremendous celebration of Eid al-Fitr, the Festival of Breaking the Fast. Usually, the celebration lasts three days depending on the culture but can be limited to one day, which in no way detracts from its significance. The celebration starts with Eid prayer and continues with family gatherings, gift-giving, and sharing celebratory meals with families and friends. Importantly, Eid accomplishes another core pillar of Islam, paying the annual obligatory payment on the property for charitable purposes called Zakat. Zakat is given to less fortunate families so that they also can enjoy festivities with their beloved ones.

It is equally important to raise awareness of school administrators, nurses, coaches, bus drivers, cafeteria staff, and all other school staff about significance of Ramadan for Muslim communities to ensure a multifaceted accommodation. Additionally, accommodating working Muslims during Ramadan is a generous and thoughtful gesture, and they will undoubtedly feel valued and taken care of.

My two middle-schooler children and I are looking forward to Ramadan with immense excitement. We appreciate the time given to us for devotion, submission, and reflection. By sharing this post, I hope to encourage cultural and religious sensitivity for all school communities who have been teaching and welcoming Muslim students of local, immigrant, and refugee backgrounds.

My family wishes you a Happy upcoming Ramadan!

Written by Nasiba Norova
International Ph.D. Student in Applied Linguistics
Research & Teaching Assistant
University of Massachusetts Boston

MATSOL Condemns Anti-Asian Bigotry and Violence

MATSOL condemns the surge in anti-Asian bigotry and violence since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic that has negatively impacted the Asian, Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders community, many of whom are our students and colleagues. Specifically, we are horrified and saddened by the shootings in Atlanta on March 16, 2021 that killed 6 Asian women. We strongly stand in support of racial justice. 

Racism and hatred have no place at MATSOL. We are committed to doing the necessary work to ensure we as an organization are practicing and supporting anti-racism. 

Too often the history of discrimination against the Asian and AAPI community is overlooked and not included in our educational curriculums or conversations about racial justice. We want to make sure our members know that we are a community of educators who value diversity, equity and inclusion both within the organization and within the field of English education.

Please look for updates about how MATSOL will continue to collaborate with our members to address this issue going forward.

MATSOL Board of Directors & Staff


The MATSOL Educators of Color SIG will meet on Friday, April 9 at 3:30 PM for a listening session. The agenda will be to vent and support each other from the current hate crimes

Please know that this is a space for all educators who identify as People of Color. Please respect the space.

If you’d like to join the group, email Jason Fei at

Here are a few helpful resources for teaching about the history of anti-Asian violence and racism in the United States (Thanks to Dr. Christine Leider):

TESOL Statement

As an affiliate of TESOL International Association, MATSOL strongly stands by the TESOL statement below:

TESOL Condemns Global Acts of Violence and Discrimination Against Asians

Since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, numerous media reports and high-profile incidents have shown a growing number of verbal and physical assaults against adults and children of Asian descent in communities around the world. Often fueled by a rhetoric of lies about the origin of COVID-19, these actions and incidents of hate and xenophobia cannot be tolerated and must be denounced at all levels of government and society.

Last year, TESOL International Association (TESOL) supported House Resolution 908 in the U.S. House of Representatives, condemning the growing acts of discrimination and violence that were perpetrated against Asians since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. It is clear that despite recognition of this problem by many world leaders and advocates, these despicable actions have only continued to grow in frequency.

At its core, TESOL is an organization that values diversity, multiculturalism, and multilingualism. These acts of hatred and discrimination, directed toward communities that are made up of countless English learners around the world, run counter to those values.

TESOL is committed to working with its partner organizations and allies in order to combat the current epidemic of racism, discrimination, and xenophobia that is affecting our communities of color.  


2020 MATSOL Virtual Conference Infographic

And instructions at the bottom of this post.

How to view the archives:

  1. Go to the 2020 Conference page and click the “Log in to view…” link.
  2. Log in and you will see the schedule in our Airtable database.
  3. Click “view larger version” on the bottom right to expand the view.
  4. Find a presentation you’d like to view, scroll all the way to the right, and click on the recording link (YouTube).
  5. Watch the recording on YouTube. Click “SHOW MORE” in the video description to see all resources from the presenters.
  6. Repeat steps 4-6 as needed!

Recordings are only available to MATSOL members right now.

If slideshows and chat notes for the video are available, they will be linked in the video’s description (on YouTube). If you don’t see anything available, that means there are no resources from that presenter.

Happy viewings!