Cultural Competence

I really enjoyed taking the Sue and Sue cultural competence evaluation as it was a valuable experience in seeing my own progression in becoming a culturally competent educator.  The notion Sue and Sue has on the issue of becoming culturally competent incorporates four major components: awareness, knowledge, skills, and advocacy. Through the evaluation I was able to gain insight on what my strengths are as well as areas which will need continued improvement. Nevertheless, it is always important to remember that areas of strength should not be overlooked; all areas will need continuous work in order to become culturally competent. Sue and Sue states that cultural competence is “active, developmental, an ongoing process and is aspirational rather than achieved”. It is not a passive process and will require continuous effort in order to support the diverse student population. In becoming more culturally competent, I am better equipped to be effective with all students.

I view myself as being aware and sensitive to my cultural background and in valuing and respecting differences with other cultures. I am respectful of those differences and feel very comfortable around those who may view things differently than me. This respect and comfort level is because of the effort I put forward to view others as individuals. Likewise, it is a personal goal of mine to move past the stereotypes and biases I have instilled, as I know these assumptions are misguided. Many times it may be unintentional – this is why it is so important to be more aware that this thought process is even occurring. In order to promote growth, I will incorporate the traditions, values, and opinions of different cultures to gain knowledge. I will become more aware and respectful of how mine and my student’s culture may affect learning in the classroom.

I feel that my knowledge of cultural competence has improved the drastically in the past year. This is largely due to taking the course diversity in America, which has created me to become more actively involved in understanding diverse populations. The Isik-Ercan (2010) article emphasizes the importance of parent involvement and the knowledge which can be gained. Knowledge doesn’t just involved reading about a culture, but must be done actively. This can be achieved by reaching out to students and parents so that a better understanding may occur. I would like to continue to study and learn about various cultures in order to better equip me as a teacher.

Skills of cultural competence possess the ability to practice appropriate, relevant, and sensitive strategies and skills in working with diverse students. This is especially important in adapting my own teaching styles to fit with how a student may or may not learn. One student may respond to a particular teaching style more effectively than another. Thus, it is crucial to be knowledgeable and comfortable in implanting and teaching through various styles and methods. Growth in skills of cultural competence can be developed through the consultation with others, participation in professional development, and the willingness to seek help when needed. I know I will be relying on my colleagues when I begin teaching when limitations may occur. Furthermore, I will utilize professional development opportunities to further develop my skills.

My weakest area is in advocacy, mainly due to the fact that I have little experience leading a classroom. Many of the issues I have not encountered yet and for this reason most of my advocacy answers were “never” done. I hope to be an advocate for racial issues not just pertaining to myself – but to advocate whenever any racial situations occur. Additionally, I would like to advocate and take action on issues of cultural relevant curriculum and the identification of bias materials. Finally, I hope to have opportunities to actively engage my students in conversation of race and social issues. Simple conversation can help support individuals point of views to be expressed and understood. This in turn will create a safe environment where students are aware, knowledgeable, and respectful of those differences. Many times issues of race, social class, or gender arise because of a misunderstanding. Actively advocating on behalf of the needs of my students will create a culture of respect and equity.

The development of my cultural competence is an ongoing process that is not achieved but a goal to aspire towards. This process must be actively done, seeking the best measures to better understand students. I hope to continue and develop my cultural competence in all four areas of awareness, knowledge, skill, and advocacy.

Isik-Ercan, Z. (2010). Looking at school from the house window: Learning from turkish-american parents’ experience with early elementary education in the United States. Early Childhood Education, 38, 133-142.