"Tools for Cultural Competence in My Classroom"
By: Roshaunda Bell

Quote:

“Learn about other cultures. Become a student of culture if you are in a cross-cultural situation. You don’t have to become an anthropologoist, but you can use some of the anthropologist approaches to studying a culture. Educate yourself and others as well.” (Child, Family, and Community 6th Edition pg. 182)

Literature on Cultural Competence: Here are a few literature pieces to help with dealing with Cultural Diversity/Differences

  • Developing Cross-Cultural Competence: A Guide for Working With Children and Their Families (Author: Lynch)
  • Child, Family, and Community: Family-Centered Early Care and Education (Author: Janet Gonzalez Mena)
  • Strategies for Building Multicultural Mental Health and Educational Setting (Author: Madonna G. Constantine and Derald Wing Sue)
  • Cultural Proficiency: A Manual for School Leaders Third Edition (Authors: Randall B. Lindsay, Kikanza Nuri Robins, and Raymond D. Terrell
  • Making Choices and Making Friends (Authors: Pamela Espeland and Elizabeth Verdick)
  • Early Childhood Special Education 0 to 8 years: Strategies for Positive Outcomes (Author: Sharon A. Raver)

Different Ways to show that I value Cultural Diversity in the classroom

  • Ask parents to help the students to do a family collage with pictures of the family members, the place or places where their family is from, different word phrases they may use, what is their nationality and and what is original language.
  • Reading books about the different kinds of religions in the world, but choosing the books carefully as to not offend anyone or their religion.
  • On open house I can ask my parents (if I am permitted) to bring in a dish from their native country for a cultural potluck.
  • Have classroom journals where I ask the students where they are from and we each share our stories of where we are from, starting with me.
  • For gender differences I will let students play with whatever toys they may want with no gender specific rules such as dolls are only for girls and trucks are for boys, I will let my students explore and be open with their play time. I will also let parents know of this in the beginning of the year that students will be able to express themselves through play with whatever toy or object they may want to use without using gender roles.
  • For the students we will do the buddy system where I will pair students up and have them draw each other on banner paper and we can each talk about the differences between the partners and what makes them unique. This will also help them to see that everyone is different and no one is the same.
  • I can show my students videos of different cultures and their languages, but make sure that its kid friendly so as to not lose their attention.
  • I can also tell my students like I let their parents know that we must respect or be nice to everyone even if they are different or not like us.

How you can communicate with families of various backgrounds and ways you can avoid potential pitfalls when communicating cross-culturally?

  • I would write up a questionnaire in the beginning of the school for parents to fill out so that I can be aware of their cultures and or religions. I will also put in a note for them on the questionnaire that in the school and in my classroom we including me respects everyone that comes through my classroom door regardless of their differences.
  • I can make sure that I know about their culture before I approach them. I know in some cultures it’s not right to look them in the eyes, or you must only talk to the man or father in the household. This is where the questionnaire would come in.
  • If I have a family who does not speak English I will make sure to ask another teacher, administrative staff, or even the principal/director with help translating.
  • I can avoid potential pitfalls by not getting personal with the parents by be-friending them.
  • I can also avoid potential pitfalls by making sure to not be bias and to treat all of my students the same regardless of their culture or backgrounds.
  • I can show compassion and understanding for their needs and their beliefs to avoid any pitfalls.
  • Do not make judgements of the families and their beliefs

Increasing my overall cultural awareness

  • Each month or so I can do projects with the students in the classroom where we use our imaginations and visit different countries. For instance, we could do Spain. We could read a book about it, I would find activities and worksheets for the students to do and we could also watch videos on Spain. I would also send Home Learnings on the different countries or cities that we are doing so that their parents can also learn about it.
  • Being attentive to the needs of the families and students.
  • Learn basic words in another language such as hello, good morning, have a nice day etc.
  • Try different foods
  • Read and explore on my own of the different cultures

Counteracting Bias in Cultural Competence

  • I can counteract bias by putting myself in the shoes of others. I have to realize and see that everyone is different and learn to understand that my culture is not the only one.
  • I can keep judgements and opinions to myself, different cultures handle situations differently.
  • I can also counteract bias by not seeing a difference in race, culture, creed, and religion.

Resources:

  • Miami-Dade County Department of Cultural Affairs
    • Stephen P. Clark Building 111 NW 1st Street, Suite 625 Miami, Fl 33128 Phone: 305.375.4634 Fax: 305.375.3068
    • culture@miamidade.gov
  • Family Resource Center
    • 155 S Miami Ave #400, Miami, FL 33130
      (305) 374-6006
    • frcflorida.org
  • Domestic Violence Outreach Units:

Final Thoughts:

In this class I learned that I have to be more open minded. I am always used to things being a certain way and always scared of change. But, I know that in order to be a great and effective teacher, I have to consider not just their individual differences, but also the differences of their families as well. I am a parent and I want my children teachers to understand and know where I come from, and I expect the same for myself. Families are the framework for our students before they enter to our class, so in order to know my students, I need to know and learn their families.

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