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Culturally Proficient Leadership

By markhickie Mar 20, 2013 1585 Words

EDLA 626 – Culture, Diversity & Human Rights

Culturally Proficient Leadership: The Personal Journey Begins Within

Summary: Part 1: Leadership as an Informed Personal Perspective

Chapter 1: The Leadership Journey Begins Within

Getting Centered
- reality – many people in society still live segregated lives based on race / ethnicity, class - It is important that we look inward to ourselves in order to understand our reactions to people culturally different than us. - Such understanding allows us to effectively teach “other peoples’ children”

Taking a Look at My School and What I See (and Don’t See)
- Schools and districts are influenced by social, political and economic forces not readily apparent. - Underlying the visible elements of our school communities are unapparent forces that make even more impact on our students, schools and us. - These invisible historical forces contribute to the sense of privilege or deprivation experienced in our schools that impacts our students, parents and us. - These forces are termed as equity issues and serve as the metaphorical elephant in the room that many pretend not to see.

Are there “Equity Issues” in Your School?
- Reaction to equity issues is dependent on one’s own experiences as a student. - Different experience produced for students of different cultural groups (past & present). - Regardless of personal experiences, a school leader and his/her vision benefits from knowledge of historical context of access and equity issues. - Two expressed values not fully realized are universal public education through High School and equitable educational opportunities (ex. Only 27 states have compulsory education requirements to age 16). - Progress toward universal education is linked with advancement in equitable treatment and equal outcomes for students based on gender, race, ethnicity and ableness is also evolving. - Prominent researchers have pressed the issue for equity in schools for 2 generations.

Confronting the “Gaps” as a Leadership Issue
- Leaders faced with challenge of leading schools in ways that provide equitable opportunities irrespective of a student’s culture - The mere composition of any school poses naturally challenges due to differences (culture, race, gender, socio-economic, achievement, etc.). - Leaders need to address systemic access disparities of quality educational programs, experienced funding and equitable school funding otherwise the status quo of gaps will continue. - More equitable funding alone does not even things out . . . must be accompanied by a change in the way many students are educated. - Important question for leaders: How do we meet the academic and social needs of students who come to school with a different set of values, beliefs, socioeconomic experiences, behaviors, language and ability?

NCLB as a Leadership Tool
- NCLB can serve as a tool to support access and equity efforts. - NCLB has made public aware of differential educational opportunity and achievement patterns that exist in our schools and communities. - NCLB used as pretext to point out and address achievement gap issues. Such a gap is a multifaceted outcome measure of gaps in access to education. - Achievement gaps differentiated by race, ethnicity, gender, class, etc. are being highlighted by the media.

Definitions of Key Terms
- Culture: The set of practices and beliefs shared by members of a particular group that distinguish that group from other groups. - Cultural Informancy: Reflects our experience of having cross cultural relationships that are authentic and trusting which allow for mutual learning and feedback leading to personal growth. - Demographic Groups: Often used in schools in pace of subgroup. - Dominant Culture: A culture readily visible in a classroom and school which often benefits from treatment, attention and success while others may be hidden and not apparent and not receive equitable treatment or attain equal levels of success.. - Equity: Access to material and human resources in proportion to needs. - Ethnicity: Ancestral heritage and geography, common history and to some degree physical appearance. - National Origin: A designation related to a person’s country of birth and prior citizenship. - Nativism: The practice of valuing the rights of citizens born in this country over those of immigrants (marginalization effort & attempt of immigrants). - Race: A concept developed by social scientists and misinterpreted and used by groups to characterize people by their physical features and to use those differences to justify suppression of some while promotion of others. - Reflection: careful consideration of one’s behaviors, plans, values and assumptions in an effort to improve interpersonal and professional practice. - Sexual Orientation: An enduring, emotional, romantic, sexual or affectional attraction to another person. It exists along a continuum and differs from sexual behavior because it refers to feelings and self-concept.

Chapter 2: The Cultural Proficiency Leadership Lens

- Provides an overview of the tools of cultural proficiency. Such will provide one with an important lens and knowledge for action.

Getting Centered
- Educational gaps are our issue with at least 3 arguments being important prerequisites: 1. We must acknowledge that educational gaps are historical and persistent. Although we inherited them, they cannot be ignored. The issue of academic underperformance of children of poverty and some visible minorities is not new information. 2. If gaps are to be closed, we must move forward to examine our values, behaviors, policies and practices of our schools. 3. We can make a difference when we pay attention to who students say they are and their needs before the needs of our own and that of the school system. - Cultural proficiency is:

• A process that begins with us, not with our students or their communities • A shift in thinking that moves us from viewing culture as problematic to embracing and esteeming culture. • A lens through which we view our role as educators • A concept comprised of a set of four interrelated tools to guide our practice.

Cultural Proficiency Is an Inside-Out Process
- Cultural proficiency is an inside-out process of personal and organizational change. It is who we are more than what we do. - We are students of our assumptions about self, others and the context in which we work with others - Fundamental to addressing educational gap issues is one’s willingness and ability to examine yourself and your organization. - Cultural proficiency provides leaders with a comprehensive, systemic structure to identify, examine and discuss educational issues in our schools.

Cultural Proficiency Represents a Leadership Paradigm
- Cultural proficiency . . . a mindset for how we interact with all people regardless of background . . . a worldview that carries explicit values, language and standards for effective personal interactions and professional practices . . . is a 24/7 approach to both our personal and professional lives . . . is not a set of independent strategies one learns to use with others. - Educators who commit to culturally proficient practices represent a paradigmatic shift away from the status quo dominant group view. The paradigmatic shift moves from tolerating diversity to transformational commitment to equity.

Cultural Proficiency as an Educational Leadership Lens
- The following four tools of cultural proficiency can be used as a template for a leader’s personal and professional development: 1. Guiding principles on which you can build an ethical and professional frame for effective cross-cultural communication and problem solving. 2. A continuum of behaviors that enables you to diagnose your values and behavior in such a way that you can better influence policies and practices of our profession. 3. Essential elements expressed in terms of standards of personal and professional conduct that serve as a framework for responding to academic and social needs of the cultural groups in your school & community. 4. Barriers to this work framed in such a way that you are intentional in the use of the guiding principles and essential elements. - Effective educational leaders are clear about themselves relative to working with and leading culturally diverse communities.

The Cultural Proficiency Toolkit
- Cultural proficiency is comprised of an interrelated set of 4 tools which provide the means for a leader to guide his personal and professional development in a cultural proficient manner. • The Guiding Principles of Cultural Proficiency

- Guiding principles provide one with a moral philosophical framework to examine & under-stand beliefs about the education of students from cultural groups different from them. - Guiding principles provide a framework of how the cultural diversity of students should inform professional practice when responding to student learning needs. - A good place to see if school values align with predominant behaviors in the school is the mission / vision statement.

• The Cultural Proficiency Continuum
- Consists of 6 points. The first 3 (cultural destructiveness, cultural incapacity, cultural blindness) points focus on them as being problematic. The next 3 (cultural precompetence, cultural competence, cultural proficiency) focus on your practice as transformational leadership. 1. cultural destructiveness – see the difference and eliminate it 2. cultural incapacity – see the difference and make it appear wrong 3. cultural blindness – see the difference and act like you don’t see it 4. cultural precompetence – see the difference and act but inconsistently in appropriateness 5. cultural competence – see the difference and be inclusive 6. cultural proficiency – see the difference and respond positively, engage, adapt and commit to social justice / equity

• The Five Essential Elements of Cultural Competence
- These elements are standards for culturally competent values, behaviors, policies and practices I. Assessing Cultural Knowledge
II. Valuing Diversity
III. Managing the Dynamic of Difference
IV. Adapting to Diversity
V. Institutionalizing Cultural Knowledge

• Overcoming Barriers to Cultural Proficiency
- There are barriers to achieving culturally proficient actions. They exist together in combination not as isolated events. I. Resistance to Change
II. Systems of Oppression
III. A Sense of Privilege and Entitlement

Cultural Proficiency is . . .
- An approach for surfacing educators’ assumptions and values that undermine the success of some student groups - A lens for examining how we include and honour the cultures and learning needs of all students in the educational process.

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