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05.12.16Cultural Competence Quick Tip

The most diverse group in the United States is our children, and by 2018, the racial/ethnic minority will become the majority.  Given that, its imperative that those who teach our children posses and demonstrate a deep understanding of the cultural variables those students and families bring.  These cultural variables affect how we communicate, learn, solve problems and experience life.

So how do we help those who interface with children develop the skills to deal with the diversity in our nation? Here are a few quick tips to get the conversation and thought process going:

  • Understand and articulate your own identities and beliefs– Be aware of your own beliefs and how they influence your view of other cultures
  • Get to know your students families- Go beyond the typical conversation with your students and families.  Ask them what they do in their personal time, what books they are reading.  Find out what their support networks are as they pursue their education.  Ask parents how they want to be involved in providing support to their children?  What are they most proud of and what do they fear?
  • Gather others and develop a learning community-   Get comfortable with being uncomfortable.  Share articles and books on cultural competence and develop a support group for engaging in a dialoge in diversity. 
  • Get to know your students- Get to know your students learning styles, backgrounds, interests, dreams and challenges.
  • Embrace diversity in a way that is purposeful. For example, let your celebration of diversity be reflected in your selection of materials, assessments, and communication style.

Have other useful tips? Share them in the comments section!

Carmen Perkins is co-founder, managing partner and contributing author at PROJECT EDQUITY.

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