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Tuesday, January 21, 2020

Our students have varied backgrounds, which means that there are obstacles and opportunities to engage students in just about everything we do. Understanding what it means to be a culturally proficient person is critical to the success of all educators. Today we'll share an overview of this concept.

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"Those who are culturally proficient are intentional in seeking how to learn more about people who are different from themselves."

-Jamel Adkins-Sharif

Building Cultural proficiency

One of the most beautiful things about the US education system is the diversity within the walls of our schools.  We work with students from varied ethnicities, cultures, and neighborhoods. With all the goodness that comes from working with diverse backgrounds, there are also real challenges with regard to teaching and learning. A one-size-fits-all approach doesn't work in schools, we know this.
The question is, how do we begin to tackle the challenges when so many cultures exist within a classroom? We need to start somewhere, and the concept of cultural proficiency is a critical first step in reaching all students. 
According to Teacher Leadership Institute, cultural proficiency is defined as "the policies and practices in an organization or the values and behavior of an individual, that enable the person or institution to engage effectively with people and groups who are different from them," (Nuri-Robins, Lindsey, Lindsey, and Terrell 2011). Cultural proficiency provides a lens for how we see others who are different from us. In schools, cultural proficiency is important to our work with all stakeholders - students, caregivers and colleagues. 
Cultural proficiency is not a skill that you can develop by taking a sit-n-get workshop, but rather a journey that is ongoing. Examining cultural proficiency involves exercises such as reflecting on one's own cultural biases. It's examining how our cultural lens impacts our perceptions, decisions, and interactions with others. These exercises are enlightening and can be uncomfortable.
Growth does not always come through exercises that are easy and painless. The journey to becoming culturally proficient, while at times difficult, is worthwhile and frankly critical for educators. The bottom line is that cultural proficiency allows us to reach every student, and to develop meaningful relationships with all stakeholders. 
Seeing as how it's a big, wide world out there, we need to prepare to connect with many people who have not walked a similar path to ours. We consider this huge topic in the field of education one that needs to be a priority in every classroom, in every school community. 
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Wide World of Education

Cultural proficiency is not just a good idea to prioritize, it is the most important initiative in every school today. Our students have various backgrounds, neighborhoods, orientations, and cultures. Do your teachers feel like they are able to connect with and make an impact on every single student?

To be culturally proficient, we need to identify and address stereotypes and implicit biases. We also need to develop strategies when racial or cultural conflicts invade the learning space. Culturally proficient educators are able to affirm each student in their classrooms, creating safe and effective learning spaces for our most valuable resource: our students.

Leaderally is proud to announce our new online workshop on this topic.  We had the honor of collaborating with esteemed education leader, Jamel Adkins-Sharif, on the development of this course. Details on Develop Cultural Proficiency: You and Your Students, which is designed for teachers, paraprofessionals, and specialists, can be viewed here.  Micro-credentials and group discussion guides are offered.

Interested in learning more? Please drop us a note with questions or to schedule a time to talk.

Like what you're reading?

We would love to learn about how we can support your professional development. Our personalized learning platform allows educators to focus on what they really want and need to know while supporting the overall vision for total professional development.

Reach out to Tara Reynolds today.

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