Idamari Fernandez Tool Box

Idamari Fernandez Tool Box

A human being is a part of the whole that we call the universe,
a part limited in time and space.
He experiences himself, his thoughts and feelings,
as something separated from the rest-
a kind of optical illusion of his consciousness.
This illusion is a prison for us,
restricting us to our personal desires
and to affection for only the few people nearest us.
Our task must be to free ourselves from this prison
by widening our circle of compassion to embrace all living beings
and all of nature.
-Albert Einstein

Cultural competence (general)

There are five basic cultural competence skill areas. They apply to individual educators as well as the schools they work in and the educational system as a whole. Growth in one area tends to support growth in another (Adapted from Diller and Moule, Cultural Competence: A Primer for Educators, Thomson Wadsworth 2005):

Valuing Diversity. Accepting and respecting differences—different cultural backgrounds and customs, different ways of communicating, and different traditions and values.

Being Culturally Self-Aware. Culture—the sum total of an individual's experiences, knowledge, skills, beliefs, values, and interests—shapes educators' sense of who they are and where they fit in their family, school, community, and society.

Dynamics of Difference. Knowing what can go wrong in cross-cultural communication and how to respond to these situations.

Knowledge of Students' Culture. Educators must have some base knowledge of their students' culture so that student behaviors can be understood in their proper cultural context.

Institutionalizing Cultural Knowledge and Adapting to Diversity. Culturally competent educators, and the institutions they work in, can take a step further by institutionalizing cultural knowledge so they can adapt to diversity and better serve diverse populations.


3 Topics discussed in the course content and why they are Important

Child Care in Your Community – I think this is an important issue to discuss as it affects a great deal of children and their level of care in our population. The trend in South Florida is for privately own daycares to provide services at a high cost to parents with low quality of care. Teacher/student ration is normally higher than the required 10/1. Teachers are unqualified and don’t speak English. The level of care and instruction of some of these centers are not conducive to healthy and developmentally appropriate learning experience. I strongly believe privately owned preschools should be subjected to stricter regulations and require teachers to have degrees in Early Childhood Education.

Where you a resilient Child? – I found this discussion to be important as it involved the impact of negative experiences on a child’s development. It also allowed us to reflect on our own experiences growing up, how it affects us and the various mechanisms we used to overcome its negative effects. Through this reflection I was able to identify ways that children can overcome negative experiences and turn them into positive personal outcomes.

Parents' Misconceptions about Play Based Curriculum – This was also an important issue as we currently see the trend in eliminating play from very young children’s educational experiences. It is important that we inform parents of the benefits of play in a child’s development and how it promotes learning in different content areas as well as social, physical and cognitive development. In a play-based classroom, opportunities to learn about reading, writing, and math are introduced through real, meaningful situations rather than traditional classroom instruction. Play enables children to actively engage in hands on experiences to learn about the world around them and build meaning of how it works

The ways you can show your students/parents that you value diversity on all levels

Showing students and parents that we value diversity on all levels can be accomplished by establishing genuine communications with family members that are conducive to learning about each family. A great venue to establish such communications would be informal chats when parents bring their children to school, phone conversations, home visits and/or newsletter sent home (in the parent’s first language). In addition, it is important to try to find out information about parents’ expectations, concerns and suggestions regarding their children academic experience which can be addressed, as a group (family’s night) and/or individually, during monthly meetings conducted at the school, parent’s home or community centers.

In addition, promoting family involvement by sending weekly/monthly newsletters informing parents of school activities, hosting family nights at the school in order to introduce concepts and ideas their children are learning in class and keeping parents informed about services offered by the school are valuable ways of nurturing an environment that embraces diversity. Equally important is that we research the student’s family backgrounds as well as gain cross-cultural skills required for successful interactions and collaborations with students and their families. Children should encouraged to preserve their home language as well as learn a second language.

Ways of communicating with families of diverse backgrounds and how to avoid challenges with communicating cross culturally

When communicating with families of diverse backgrounds, it is important to be sensitive, understanding and respectful to their differences in culture, income and family structure. In an instance where a cultural or any other kind of conflict arises with a family, taking an ethnocentric approach must be avoided. Instead we must become aware of our own biases and move away from measuring other people and cultures according to the standards of our own culture.

Dialoguing is an approach for resolving conflicts that is effective in helping individuals see each other’s point of views and seek mutual understanding. It is important to be aware that the object of a dialogue is to gather information; ask questions; seek to learn, discover and understand multiple points of view. Thus, there is a big difference between a dialogue and an argument, which its main objective is to win. During a dialogue, we must watch our body language and truly listen to the other person without making any judgements or trying to gather ammunition for the next attack. Otherwise, the dialogue becomes an argument.

A procedure for solving problem useful when engaging in a dialogue with a family, is RERUN, which means reflect, explain, reason, understand and negotiate. When using the RERUN strategy with a family we must follow this steps;

  • Reflect on what the other person might be thinking of feeling. Listen carefully to his or her response. Accept what he or she has to say without engaging in an argument.
  • Explain. Only when there is a good idea of the other person’s perspective and awareness behind our own is it time to offer clarification (e.g. the way mealtimes work, how grades are applied, etc…)
  • Reason. Give the reason(s) why they are that way without being argumentative.
  • Understand. In order to see if we can find a common ground with the other person, it’s important to be able to see the situation from both point of views and explore it clearly without be defensive or judgmental.
  • Negotiate. In order to figure out what to do about differences with a family, we must understand the other person’s perspective and help the other person(s) understand ours. The goal is for either side feeling like they had to “give in”.

Ways to increase cultural awareness

Classrooms should reflect a multicultural approach to learning by displaying books and pictures of the history of different cultures and their customs. The curriculums should be designed to teach children of different cultures, ethnic background, learning abilities and gender. The classroom environment and teaching strategies should promote acceptance, kindness and respect for each other’s differences and individualities. Teachers should include lessons where students can exchange ideas and different perspectives with students within the classroom as well as from different parts of the world. Skype sessions with students from other countries or cultures is a great way to promote cultural awareness.

Ways you can help counteract bias towards a particular group

Begin by modeling antibias behavior. We must provide opportunities for children to learn that to appreciate and respect people for who they are. Inclusion has the ability to provide the opportunity for children to interact with others that don’t have the same abilities they have. In addition, children should be provided with exposure to pictures, books, and experiences of other children and adults similar and different from them. Educators must point out stereotypes as they occur in the media such as when books or TV programs exhibit images of weak, helpless women in limited roles. A way to counteract this bias behavior is by explaining the fact that women can be strong, intelligent and capable of accomplishing many things.

The following are important guidelines for teaching young children about gender equality:

  • Help children develop awareness of sexist stereotypes
  • Create a nonsexist environment
  • Watch your own behavior
  • Teach antibias attitude to young children and give them the skills they need to challenge sexism.
  • Help all children develop empathy
  • Help all children become problem solvers in both the physical and social worlds
  • Broaden children’s views of themselves and their capabilities

Examples of community resources for families in need

Planned Parenthood – offers a variety of services as well as counseling that allows women to make decisions that are right for them about family planning. Some of the services include high-quality, affordable medical care, preventive care, reproductive and sexual health educational programs, treatments for sexually transmitted diseases, services to prevent unintended pregnancies and services to terminate pregnancies.

Medicaid or state child health insurance programs - Medicaid provides medical coverage to low-income individuals and families. Parents and caretakers may apply for Medicaid on behalf of children under age 21 living in their home, if the family income is under the limit for the age of the child. There is no requirement for a child to reside with an adult caretaker to qualify for Medicaid. Children eligible for Medicaid may enroll in the Child Health Check-up Program. This program provides regularly scheduled health checkups, dental screenings, immunizations and other medical services for children.

Child Abuse Prevention programs - CBCAP includes activities that work with the community and families to prevent child abuse and neglect. Examples include public awareness campaigns, home visiting programs for new parents, diversion programs for at-risk families, and parent support groups.

Public Library- Provides help with children’s homework, access to educational programs (e.g. and computer and laptops. Has a variety of activities and monthly special programs for children and their families all free of charge. Families have access to free movie rentals, free passes for local museums and the Zoo.

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