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ANN JAYNE SOUTH/WEST PARK ELEMENTARY SCHOOL Tracy Educators Association Completing her dissertation on cultural proficiency In Enid Pickett's classroom in Waldo Rohnert Elementary in Rohnert Park, Jazmin Amador finds Japan on a map. There are four basic cultural competency skill areas, and growth in one area supports growth in another. Valuing diversity: Respecting different cultural backgrounds and customs, different ways of communicating and different traditions and values. Being culturally self-aware: Understanding that your own culture — all your experiences, backgrounds, knowledge, skills, beliefs, values and interests — shapes who you are, where you fit into your family, school, community and society, and how you interact with students. Understanding the dynamics of cultural interactions: Knowing there are many factors that can affect interactions across cultures, including historical cultural experiences and relationships between cultures in a local community. Institutionalizing cultural knowledge and adapting to diversity: Designing educational services based on an understanding of students' cultures and institutionalizing that knowledge so that educators and the learning environments they work in can adapt and better serve diverse populations. Source: NEA Human and Civil Rights Department Kenji Sakamoto shows how to fold an origami crane during a class on the Japanese American internment at Smiley Elementary School in Redlands. June/July 2012 21 DRAWING FROM EXPERIENCE: I moved to Germany when I was in high school and struggled to learn another language. I understand the challenges of learning another language and the perspective of kids who come here and have to learn not only a new language, but also a whole new way of life. REFLECTIVE TEACHING: I'm always evaluating my own culture and my own effectiveness. I ask: What can I do to make curriculum culturally relevant? When teaching about the Bear Flag Revolt — where different parties in California under Mexican rule argued over territory and statehood — I might compare that to civil unrest in Burma to a Burmese student. I look at what I'm teaching through multiple perspectives, whether math, science or history. EDUCATE YOURSELF: Cultural differences exist within the same ethnicity. I have students from three different cultures within India, as well as students from Burma, Thailand, Korea, Vietnam, the Philippines, China, and various culturally different Latino students. We do things — we don't intend to — from our own cultural perspective that can be misconstrued. For example, a common assumption is that an Asian male is going to be great at math and science, but that's not always true, and it is unfair to the child to make those assumptions. Be aware of your own biases, even positive ones.

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