Cultural Competence

One of the primary reasons I choose not to teach in in a public school after receiving my teaching licensures (then called Type 03 and 04) was because I was not adequately prepared.

Specifically, I was not prepared to support diverse populations or their social and emotional needs.  I didn’t know how to support children’s home language, I didn’t know how to authentically connect with families from multiple backgrounds or structures, and I did not recognize the underpinnings of challenging behavior (often feelings of hunger and insecurity).    On the continuum of cultural competence, I was blind (apparently, as was the institution where I received my education).

I knew I was doing a disservice to my students and that I would never succeed as an educator without this knowledge and ability. I spent the next 10+ years learning, practicing, and teaching myself what supporting the WHOLE child truly looked like in education.

Fast forward to my first year of teaching in higher education, and eventually to a nationwide teaching structure.    I found myself supporting different generations, but similar diverse needs resurfaced.  How do I provide a curriculum that is culturally relevant and celebrates diverse perspectives?  How do I ensure my teaching strategies are bias free?  How do I help students navigate life beyond the classroom?  Had I not worked so diligently to become culturally competent, I would not have known.    I again would have taught the content but not the individual.

To be fair, my current institution has offered tremendous resources and opportunities for training around this topic, but the initiative has been relatively recent.  For K-12 and others, I am wondering about the curriculum or training experiences you have received for supporting learners from diverse backgrounds.

For folks in higher education, I realize there is often zero preparation for instructors but have you been offered support or training for learners from diverse backgrounds? @kwalley_au

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1 thought on “Cultural Competence”

  1. Truthfully, Kristen, we are not well prepared as educators about our students’ diverse backgrounds as well as we should be. In the public school system (or at least from my experience in my district), often times teachers are not made aware of information about students. There may be important information in students’ files that teachers are not privy to. However, such information may be helpful to teachers when working with students. In my experience, I have found that developing relationships and partnerships with students’ parents to be very effective in understanding students and their families. Once you establish trust with parents, you gain more insight into the child’s life outside of school, which helps understand how them inside of school. I think relationships with parents is very important. @tracy_zalud

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