This is the fourth installment of a series making an appearance occasionally in this blog designed to give some specific guidance regarding how to work with an organization on intercultural responsiveness. The first three installments can be found here: Nuts & Bolts: Part 3, here: Nuts & Bolts: Part 2, and here: Nuts & Bolts: Part 1
We can do a tremendous amount of work related to intercultural responsiveness; however, if we’re not applying this work to our day to day lives, it’s not having the positive impact for all that it’s intended to produce. Specific to education, professionals are being asked to demonstrate culturally and linguistically responsive practices with students, families, community members, and staff. So, what does that mean?
We want the quick fix, the tool box, the laundry list, the binder, the “make and take” professional development opportunities. This isn’t that kind of work. Again, it’s a journey – an on-going and never-ending one at that. It doesn’t mean there aren’t some specifics that can be identified, and the attempt will be to do just that here.
The National Center For Culturally Responsive Educational Systems (NCCRESt) provides a wealth of information on these topics, and the quick synopsis below is drawn from one of their practitioner briefs entitled Addressing Diversity in Schools: Culturally Responsive Pedagogy.
Activities to help one become culturally and linguistically responsive
1. Engage in reflective thinking and writing
2. Explore personal and family histories
3. Acknowledge membership in different groups
4. Learn about the history and experiences of diverse groups
5. Visit students’ families and communities
6. Visit or read about successful teachers in diverse settings
7. Develop an appreciation of diversity
8. Participate in reforming the institution
Activities that are culturally and linguistically responsive
1. Acknowledge students’ differences as well as their commonalities
2. Validate students’ cultural identity in classroom practices and instructional materials
3. Educate students about the diversity of the world around them (near and far)
4. Promote equity and mutual respect among students
5. Assess students’ ability and achievement validly
6. Foster a positive interrelationship among students, their families, the community, and school
7. Motivate students to become active participants in their learning
8. Encourage students to think critically
9. Challenge students to strive for excellence as defined by their potential (all students have the potential to learn, regardless of their cultural or linguistic background, or differing abilities)
10. Assist students in becoming socially and politically conscious
Well, there you have it: Some basics. Along with the perpetual caveat: Nothing about this work is basic. Ever. And, that’s a good thing.