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What Does Cultural Competency Look Like? ENID PICKETT WALDO ROHNERT ELEMENTARY SCHOOL Rohnert Park Cotati Education Association NEA Diversity Cadre trainer, trains teachers nationwide BRIAN JEFFREY LOS OSOS HIGH SCHOOL Associated Chaffey Teachers Took CTA's unconscious bias training NOT ENGLISH ONLY: I don't know any language besides English. Without some degree of cultural competency, it can lead to uncomfortable situations. When I meet Muslim parents, I know it is appropriate to shake the father's hand, never appropriate to take the mother's hand, and that I should pat my heart twice to say it's a pleasure to meet you as a greeting. Cultural competency makes interacting in the world a lot easier. STUDENTS SEE THEMSELVES: When kids walk into my room, they notice something that reflects their culture. There are posters or wall hangings from African American, Asian, Middle Eastern, Tongan and Latino cultures. I care about who they are individually and culturally. WE'RE ALL BIASED: Recognize that everyone has certain biases. Make sure your unconscious bias does not become conscious. I may have an unconscious bias that a football player is probably not a good student, but I don't allow myself to act on it. Sometimes we get defensive when misunderstandings happen with students. It's important to ask, "What did I do to create this situation?" 20 California Educator June/July 2012 IN THE CLASSROOM: My kindergartners see something from their homeland and relate it to their family. I celebrate the differences of my children, not just with foods or a party. I celebrate their history. I attend birthdays, quinceaƱeras and graduations. If there is a behavior problem, we can have a cultural collision. I take a social justice approach. You can get mad or you can say, "I'm glad this happened so we can talk about it" and discuss cultural values so nobody wins and nobody loses. Without blame or judgment, we see things are handled in different ways. ABOUT "ISMS": It's about understanding "isms" including racism, ageism, classism, sexism and homophobia. It's a mindset, a belief system and viewpoint that says: "The world belongs to everybody." It's never assuming I know what someone's world is and always assuming they can teach me a lot about their world. I ask myself, "What kind of ancestor are you going to be?" BE A KEEN OBSERVER: I have a refrigerator, a car and a college degree. I check my own privilege constantly. You do not become culturally competent automatically by virtue of being a person of color. I do my own investigative work. I connect the dots to see how systemic and systematic oppression exists. I am a listener. Being a diversity trainer with the NEA Human and Civil Rights cadre and on the Southern Poverty Law Center's Teaching Tolerance Advisory Board, I am always reminded to check my ethnic integrity, my speech and my behaviors, in order to walk the talk of a social justice teacher. TEACHERS TEACHING TEACHERS

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