“Cultural competence is having an awareness of one’s own cultural identity and views about difference, and the ability to learn and build on the varying cultural and community norms of students and their families. It is the ability to understand the within-group differences that make each student unique, while celebrating the between-group variations that make our country a tapestry. This understanding informs and expands teaching practices in the culturally competent educator’s classroom.”
-National Education Association
Part of being a culturally responsive and competent teacher includes learning how to cultivate critical conversations. However, competence also includes taking a long, hard look in the mirror to figure out how our OWN individual identities impact our pedagogy.
Working together with students means modeling how to explore the ways in which our identities impact how we view the world. Creating classroom environments and cultures that encourage self-discovery through critical perspectives are vital to culturally responsive teaching. It is not enough to be AWARE that issues exist, we have to foster COMPETENCE among ourselves and our students enough to be critical voices in these conversations.
This Saturday, please join me at NCTE as I engage with my colleagues across the nation to discuss the importance of taking action to develop cultural competence among teachers and students in today’s ELA Classrooms.
Can’t make it? Start a conversation in the comments! What are ways you actively engage in cultural competence with your students? What are ways that YOU are looking to become culturally competence in your classrooms? I would love to hear your feedback as to how we can start a plan of action for ALL educators!
Gena Mendoza teaches High School English in San Antonio, Texas. Her most salient identities include female, Chicana, feminist, mother, wife, educator, dog mom, and self-proclaimed advocate for social justice and equality. In between managing her career and grad school, she enjoys making paper flowers and spending quality time with her family. She invites you to connect with her on Twitter at @Mrs_Mendoza3 and looks forward to collaborating with you at #NCTE18!
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