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Saturday, March 04, 2017

Are We Promoting a Culturally Proficient Program?

All year my team has been focused on cultural proficiency. Using a Minneapolis Positive School Climate Tool Kit, I evaluate our work today:

I am aware of my own racial, ethnic, and cultural background, and understand how it affects my perceptions and values.
While there's always more to learn, I feel I grew up with a rich connection to my cultural background. Early in my career I attended anti-racist teaching which taught me a lot about white privilege and my own cultural lens. Further working with a diverse student body and somewhat diverse extended educational group has helped me understand how I use that lens to make sense of the world around me. By reading, listening, and learning, I continue to extend this understanding. 

I seek opportunities to learn about the cultural practices in our school community, including staff, families, and students. 
Unfortunately I missed the recent Chinese Culture celebration due to a family event. Soon we have a World Culture Day too that I will also miss due to a family day. Next year, I'll make an effort to attend these events by putting them on my calendar sooner than later. Some teachers in my system have traveled to China to assist our Chinese Exchange Program--this would be a positive way to learn too. I want to think with colleagues about what additional cultural practices and events exist and how we might better partake in those. 

Action: Schedule to attend these important events early in the next school year. 

I regularly reflect on my own bias and how I view and treat people with cultural practices that are different than my own. 
I reflect regularly. I can see opportunity here for greater collegial conversation in this regard. Also it's important to reach out to families with respect to respecting their cultural practices, needs, and interests. I wonder how we might broach that during an initial parent conference. Would a questions such as this be appropriate: "At our school we want to be respect to every child's unique culture, how might we respect your child's culture as he/she participates in school events and practices? This would be an interesting question to discuss with colleagues and families as we prepare for the new school year.

Action: make this a discussion topic with the team during our summer meeting as we plan for next year. 

I value the diverse perspectives and cultural practices of my colleagues.
I truly believe that we profit from our diversity and that our world is better because of our diverse perspectives and cultural practices. I believe we learn from one and another and I do value diverse perspectives. Yet as I write I realize that potentially having a sister school from a more district that's culturally different than ours could benefit our school and the other school with good share. This might be something we discuss as a teaching community. 

Action: Be attuned to this as I interface with colleagues and collegial events. Make time for listening, observation. 

I regularly examine academic and behavioral data for achievement gaps by race, native language, socio-economic status, and gender.
Our team is very aware of the opportunity and empowerment gaps that can exist. We use multiple data points to identify our student profiles and chart data points. There's more we can do in this regard and our state is forwarding that with their work related to the new ESSA law. I believe we can follow the state's lead to better our collective work in this area. 

Action: Do a thorough analysis of this during the summer and make changes to next year's charts, efforts in light of that analysis. 

I review data to inform instruction in ways that best meet the needs of individual learners, and collaborate with colleagues in data-based decision making. 
We have regular conversations in this regard. I think there's more work we can do to deepen our results and creativity with regard to serving individual learners well, but I also believe we've made good effort in this area to date. 

Action: Same as above. 

I create positive relationships with families so that we can work as a team to best meet their child's needs. 
We have a large number of efforts and structures in place to do this. I think we can elevate our start-of-the-year efforts in this regard to make sure that we are setting up every family and child for school success in the year ahead. I'd like to work with my team and school colleagues in this regard.

Actions: Work with colleagues to identify actions that will support this including possible orientation, host family effort, early tech lending, cultural proand early year relationship building events.

I engage in professional development to examine my own cultural awareness and develop culturally relevant teaching strategies.
I've read a number of books and attended a number of professional learning events in this regard. It's possible that my team could write a grant to further our collective knowledge and work in this area using the expert organization, Primary Source. This year we added many teaching strategies/events to meet our desire to teach a more culturally proficient way. Some of the efforts we added include the following:
  • Focus on and attendance at the play, Akeelah and the Bee
  • In-depth study of Frederick Douglas
  • Upcoming visit to the African American History Museum
  • Identity Project
  • Related class discussions
  • Inclusion of films and books that represent many cultures, races, backgrounds
  • Pointed discussions about race, culture, bias, and support
Action: Organize cultural proficiency lessons, links, and more. Complete Emdin's book. Take related courses at MTA Summer Conference.

I encourage all families to give me feedback and volunteer in my classroom.
We invite families to be full members of the teaching/learning team. We invite their questions and comments and keep them up to date with all classroom information. We send out surveys from time to time and have parent conferences twice a year. As a team we can talk about how we might do more in this area too.

Action: Invite family feedback and volunteering at initial orientations; then set up a contact list, regular time to contact families with updates and information. Work ahead to make sure that families are able to attend the conferences and special events. 

I participate in action research focused on equity to better meet my students' needs and improve my instructional strategies. I monitor student engagement within this research.
I do this informally as I teach each day. I think there's more I can do in this area and will think about it over the summer as I assess the year's scores, surveys, and responses.

Action: Plan an action research project this summer related to this effort. Potentially make this action research project a team effort if others are interested. Potentially use this as part of my evaluation professional learning goal for 2017-2018. Plan for this over the summer. 

Students and families feel comfortable when reporting inequitable practices or incidents, whether parties involved include me, students or fellow colleagues. 
It seems to me that families and students feel comfortable speaking up. We generally face issues head-on and right away in order to foster a sense of equity and community.

Action: Invite parents to speak up during orientation and possibly include articles or other information that supports this. 

Communication is available to families in multiple languages.
We do have translators come when needed to parent conferences. We have not had requests for our newsletter to be translated since most families have English speakers. This is a good issue to think about at the start of the year when we meet and survey families/students to know what they need.

Action: At the start of the year, determine if translation is needed. Then make efforts to have that translation when needed. 

I make sure that there are translators available to improve school and family communication.
We do this for some families, but can see how this should be a typical question on our school meeting/conference questionnaire. We can work with the ELL teachers in this regard too.

Action: Same as above. 

Art work and photographs embedded in communication and classroom decor reflect the demographics of the students positively and are age appropriate.
I'd like to work with colleagues to write a grant to uplift our signage around the school in this regard. 

Action: Work with colleagues to write a grant to obtain a collection of good signage that relates to cultural proficiency goals and SEL goals--signage that inspires and signage that helps students see themselves in the signage. Also be mindful of the signage used in the classroom in the same respect -- note that there's not much space for this. 

I act as a student and family advocate. I openly confront my colleagues if I see practices that I feel are inequitable.
We have had many discussions about this at our PLC. There is more work we can do, but we're off to a good start.

Action: Work with colleagues to continually at together with regard to what's best for all students together and every individual. 

I preview visual media to make sure that it is culturally relevant and anti-bias. 
I believe that we do this, but I also think we can continue to diversify our materials so that we represent all students in the school in meaningful ways in the programs and materials we use.

Action: Make time to preview teaching/learning materials prior to use--be intentional about including visual media that is culturally relevant and anti-bias. 

My behavioral expectations and policies have taken into account the varying cultural expectations and norms in my student demographics.
I've learned a lot of this here and there. I want to be more thoughtful about this. For starters I want to finish Emdin's book, For White Teachers Who Teach in the Hood. . . as he provides great ideas in this realm. I know there's more reading I can do in this regard, and it's possible that this topic is what we focus our potential grant with Primary Source on. We also have a faculty meeting focused on a related topic this week.

Action: Reread notes related to Emdin's book and study, and then continue reading the book, writing more notes, and embedding his suggestions into the classroom efforts. Be on the look out for more research related to this, and potentially seek more professional development in this regard. 

I review curriculum and assessments for historical accuracy, cultural relevance, multiple perspectives, and anti-bias.
I believe we do this, but we can always do it more. Something to be be attuned to.

Action: Continue to be mindful of this, analyze, and learn more. 

Culturally relevant lessons are embedded in my day to day teaching rather than taught in isolated units. 
We generally do embed this kind of teaching regularly. I want to be more cognizant of how I do this, and collect multiple mini lessons to support this work. It would be interesting to talk with colleagues about how they do this.

Actions: Similar to the SEL file I've created, create a culturally proficient teaching website to support mini lessons that can be embedded into core curriculum lessons and efforts. 

I differentiate to meet the needs of students from varying backgrounds and have high expectations for all. I provide the support needed to reach expectations.
This is an area I'd like to work more with colleagues and administrators to improve. I think we can make scheduling and staffing adjustments to do this better. Our team has proposed a new schedule for next year that reflects sensitivity to this issue.

Actions: Work with colleagues to make time and effort to meet students' needs in thoughtful, targeted ways throughout each day and week. 

Holidays are equally represented and celebrations are sensitive to the varying religions and cultural practices of student populations. 
Typically at our school we invite family members to come in to talk about their holidays and share their traditions. As a school we don't celebrate any one religion. This is a good invitation and topic to discuss with families at the start of the year in order to make sure we are being sensitive and equitable in this regard.

Actions: Include a question and invite at the start of the year to invite families too relay important celebrations and practices that we should be mindful of with respect to their child, and also invite families to come in and share their cultural practices/celebrations in meaningful ways if they would like to do that. 

I actively dispel racial and cultural stereotypes in my curriculum, assessments, materials, and classroom decor. 
I try to be mindful of this and I think it helps to work together in this regard.

Actions: Be mindful of this and work with colleagues in this regard. 

I am comfortable in leading discussions about race, ethnicity, class, gender, sexual orientation, and religion with students.
I often discuss these issues with the class as they come up and as focus of our learning/teaching. I begin with respect for varying family's perspectives, but always represent the law that  provides freedoms and respect for all individuals as we reach for "life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness."

Actions: Continue to make this a responsive and developmentally part of classroom teaching and learning. 

I avoid imposing my personal values and opinions and assist students in learning the difference between fact and opinion. I encourage the sharing of opinions that are different than my own and looking at multiple perspectives. 
This kind of work and conversation is typical of my teaching efforts. 

Actions: More of them, less of me--invite student discussion, conversation, and questions. 

As I take this survey, I recognize that there is more I can do to create an inclusive climate in my classroom and at my school. I will use these questions as a framework as I move forward to continue to build a culturally proficient program and environment for students with colleagues. 

Are there questions you feel are missing from this survey? What would you add? I'm looking forward to growing this work beginning with this week's faculty meeting which is focused on this topic.