WHAT IS CULTURAL COMPETENCY?


WHY IS IT IMPORTANT FOR EDUCATORS UNDERSTAND THE CULTURE OF THEIR STUDENTS?


CAN YOU BE A GOOD TEACHER WITHOUT UNDERSTANDING WHERE YOUR STUDENTS COME FROM?

Too often children from urban communities enter classrooms with teachers who look nothing like them. Too often children end up with teachers who don’t understand them or where they come from.

I will be posting a blog this week on cultural competency and my views on its importance. But before I do so I would like your views on any or all of the questions mentioned above. Please feel comfortable to be transparent and honest. Race and cultural differences can be hard to discuss and uncomfortable for some. IF WE DON’T TALK ABOUT IT WHO WILL?

Leave your thoughts and comments below. THANK YOU FOR YOUR TRANSPARENCY!

4 thoughts on “

  1. I have taught in the same high school that I went to which was obviously very aligned with my culture and my upbringing. A lot of the students even knew who I was. It was a bit weird but definitely very easy. I’m not sure if everyone would find it easy to teach at the school in the town that they grew up in but my experience was a good one. However, it was a maternity leave replacement and the teacher came back which meant I was back on the job search.

    I am from Westchester and moved to Long Island after the leave replacement in order to move closer to my wife (girlfriend at the time) that I met at St. John’s. I landed a job in an area that I basically knew nothing about. Also, I was moving to Long Island which is an extremely diverse area. I had to learn quickly!

    First, I was teaching students in an area that I knew nothing about. I knew no delis, restaurants, street names, etc. I was also teaching students that had much different family lives than mine when I was growing up. To be honest, it was hard! Don’t get me wrong… I have similarities with my students. My students often tell me how much they like my class and my teaching. Students would not say that to every teacher. But… I found the first year or two very challenging but I was determined to get better each year. I think that’s the most important part. We all hear about teachers that get stuck in their own ways and are unable to change. I look back at how I handled certain situations with students and parents and I realize I had no idea what I was doing. But each situation was a learning experience for me.

    I am proud to say that I have met so many people and I have learned so much about different cultures from teaching. It sounds corny and cliche, but I have learned a lot from my students AND the people that I work with. I’m really glad that I teach students from an area that is different from where I grew up. I offer a different perspective and I hope my students are open to it just like I am open to theirs. I think it is a good message to show students that it is okay to learn and teach with different cultures. It is good to go to a college outside of your county or your state. It is good to move somewhere and experience different people.

    My class is social studies. Race, religion, discrimination, and sexism are brought up every day. Hopefully, my class has offered as much cultural equity and competency as possible!

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  2. We have to start, in my opinion, from a long where we can agree that people and societies are not grown over time to acknowledge and value other cultures as important enough to embrace on a equal status level. The reason I open this way is because nobody loves everybody……yet everybody needs to feel loved. Children especially need to feel like they are being cared for. It’s not racial to the child. It’s unspoken. Educators have a unique opportunity to fill the gap between what young student need and what they as getting. Many cultures simply don’t have a value for the feelings of a growing child, and often miss the opportunity to provide what others might have. My mother for example would rather beat me than try and figure out what was bugging me. So….when a teacher might come at me a certain way……SHE BECAME MY MOM!….so I just shut down!…..I cut classes ….I talked back……and looked angry constantly.
    I was born in 1958 so I naturally hated white people!……I wasn’t sure why…..but as a black child….it just seemed natural!…….Almost every teach was white!…..cops were white….the welfare inspector was white….Jesus was white…..NOBODY WAS BLACK!……These people don’t understand me…..I’m hungry!…….I’m pennyless……..no snacks…..funny looking clothes……NONE OF THIS IS MY TEACHERS FAULT…..but I could have used some sympathy…..All that said…..one day in maybe the 10th grade a math teach noticed at I was doing my work with interest……and he kept me after class……I thought I was in trouble and I knew he was scare of me…..but he pulled me to the side after class so NOT to embarrass me……and said…… “Uriah……you can do this!” ……..I had never heard ANYONE!!!!…..not even in a dream …express confidence in me about anything!….especially from an adult male…… He seemed to understand how to approach me…..he seemed to now that life was hard for me……I never forgot that day…….everyone is not the same……and if a teacher can know more about what makes children from different cultures tick…….different economic statuses…..it would be easier make the student hear them.

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  3. WHY IS IT IMPORTANT FOR EDUCATORS UNDERSTAND THE CULTURE OF THEIR STUDENTS?

    Speaking from a White educators perspective – White people who don’t “get it” tend to see white as normal, and everything else as “not normal”. Look at all the stock images on the wall at the nail salon. White hands. Google “teen boy” – White teens.
    Some benevolent, yet racist, teachers try to get rid of that awkward conversation by pretending to be racially color blind… which takes the “black” out of “Black Student”. It’s wrong. As a White educator, I need to ask a lot of questions. We all do things differently. And, different is okay… but it’s hard to understand it if you don’t ask questions. Make sure you have a good relationship with your kids so you CAN ask the difficult questions.

    Most important, understanding that nobody’s home is “broken” and nobody’s language is “broken”…. just different from what (we’re/I’m) used to. And once again, different is okay.

    If I didn’t have these touch conversations with myself of my kids – I’d just be another irrelevant White lady teacher who comes in for a paycheck.

    CAN YOU BE A GOOD TEACHER WITHOUT UNDERSTANDING WHERE YOUR STUDENTS COME FROM?

    No. If you don’t care about your kids (yes, their culture is them), why should they care about you or your content? Humanity comes first. Compassion comes first. Understanding comes first… then content.

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  4. Where do I start. I have more problems with the educational system, as it currently exists, then I can count. I agree that what people refer to as “cultural competency” is certainly a challenge. What people are often talking about is actually cultural representation which in theory will lead to “cultural competency.” However, is often not the case. There are many schools with Black teacher who are unable to relate to black students because black people and black children are not a monolith. We have a diverse set of backgrounds, experiences, ideals, beliefs, learning styles, strengths, weaknesses and needs. For me, “cultural competency” is an inaccurate term, the idea that anyone could be competent in a culture; a phenomenon that is ever evolving is a lack of humility and true understanding about how culture is shaped and how it’s is constantly, fluidly shifting. Cultural humility, is what we need in our schools and what our children need. Not adults who don’t believe they are all knowing and expert; but adults who are open to learning, evolving and co-creating and educational environment where children can thrive.

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