Cultural Competency Seminar for Educators
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The United States has a culturally diverse population. The relative proportions of the cultural components change in size over time, and new components are frequently added. Once described as a melting pot, some populations strive to retain their cultural heritage. All of these multi-faceted groups will participate in the public school system. An understanding of cultures and an awareness of the effects on individual behaviors is important in promoting effective teaching, and in establishing meaningful communications with students and their parents.

Though building a cadre of accomplished educators reflecting this societal diversity remains a challenge, it is no longer a choice. It is now a prerequisite for educators and educational organizations to be aware of the sensitive issues unique to each culture as it relates to the education of children. Educators must cultivate cultural awareness and develop the communication tools and skills that will allow them to successfully intervene and collaborate with children of diverse cultural background and their family members and avoid having cultural differences act as obstacles to the delivery of optimal services to students and their parents.

Do You Know That:

  • many immigrants may be reluctant to disclose personal information, fearing that by saying something wrong or revealing such information, they might create problems for their families? To ease such fear, educators should first explain why the information is needed.
  • avoidance of eye contact may be a sign of respect? Culture affects how people use their eyes when they speak or listen.
  • because Asian and Muslim children often experience cultural conflict when they are asked to hold hands with members of the opposite sex, they may refrain from participating in an activity?
  • because teachers are often regarded as authority figures, students from many Asian and African countries and their parents are often reluctant to ask questions, share or challenge ideas, or talk about concerns they may have?
  • family loyalty is an important part of the Latino culture and is given priority to the student's education. Educators should be aware that when young Latino adults miss school, they might be working to support their families.
  • family loyalty is an important part of many cultures, and may result in students and their families attempting to resolve problems outside the processes offered by the schools or society in general.
    because psychiatric illnesses are often viewed as disgraceful in the Eastern European and Middle Eastern cultures, discussion of such illness with the parents should be handled with utmost care in a dignified manner?
  • In some cultures, dropping in without notice is the norm? It is best to inform students and their parents that while you welcome their visit, you expect an appointment in advance.
  • Misunderstandings due to cultural differences may act as obstacles to the delivery of optimal services to students and parents. Seminar attendees can develop the skills necessary to arrive at a compromise when such issues arise.

A Look Inside Today's Classrooms

Culture can include but is not limited to the following: ethnicity or race, religion, socioeconomic class, geographic region, gender, profession, age or generation, disability, and sexual orientation.

Sadker and Sadker (2002) [1] illustrates the diversity of children in today's society with the following example of a classroom of thirty students:
  • 19 would be white
  • 17 will be living with their two biological or adoptive parents
  • 15 will live in a single-parent family at some point in childhood
  • 12 will never complete a single year of college
  • 10 were born to unmarried parents
  • 10 will be poor at some point in childhood
  • 10 are a year or more behind in school
  • 8 live with only one parent
  • 6 were born poor
  • 6 were born to a mother who did not finish high school
  • 6 would be Hispanic
  • 6 live in a family receiving food stamps
  • 6 have a foreign-born mother
  • 5 are poor today
  • 5 would be African American
  • 4 have no health insurance
  • 4 live with a working relative but are poor nonetheless
  • 4 were born to a teenage mother
  • 4 speak a language at home other than English
  • 4 will never graduate from high school
  • 3 might be questioning their heterosexuality, or believing that they are gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgendered
  • 3 have a disability
  • 2 live at less than half the poverty level
  • 2 have difficulty speaking English
  • 1 would be Asian American
  • 1 might be Native American
  • 1 lives with neither parent
  • Several might be bi-racial or bi-cultural

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Ethnic Diversity

According to the US Census Bureau, as illustrated in the chart below, most of the growth within the U.S. population through 2020 will come from Hispanics (55 percent), Asians (20 percent) and African Americans (21 percent).  Furthermore, immigration will contribute to this change as the country assimilates more and more people of different ethnicities. Therefore our educators and educational organizations must possess and demonstrate cultural awareness and sensitivity when dealing with ethnically diverse students and their families.

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Most spoken languages in Washington in 2005

Most spoken languages in Washington in 2005:

  • English is spoken by 83.83% of people over 5 years old in Washington.
  • Languages other than English are spoken by 16.16%.
  • Speakers of languages other than English are divided up as shown in the pie chart.

In light of the diversity illustrated above, it is essential that personnel involved in the education of students receive training in cultural competency. Being conscious of the dynamics inherent when cultures interact enables teachers and administrators in the field of education to adapt their delivery of services to students and their families. Educators who are qualified to address issues relevant to the diversity of students are fundamental to ensuring an effective educational program resulting in maximum student achievement. Cultural awareness allows educators to strengthen students' pride in themselves and their cultural identities, enhance cross-cultural interactions, and prepare students academically and socially to participate successfully in a diverse society. Cultural Competency training for educators will initiate that cultural awareness, increase professional competency, reduce conflicts and increase employee job satisfaction within the educational institutions.

Norbache-Goff, PLLC.'s Cultural Competency Seminar for Educators addresses this need by providing an in- depth and comprehensive training for Educators in Cross-cultural interaction and relationship building. This seminar also provides teachers with information on how to assist students gain the knowledge and develop the attitudes and skills necessary to interact positively in our diverse nation.

Seminar Goals and Objectives

Imparting the subtleties of each of the world's cultures during a one day seminar presents an obviously impossible challenge. The goal and objective of our Cultural Competency Seminar for Educators is to instill a set of skills by which educators may approach students and families from diverse racial, cultural, ethnic, and language groups and develop and maintain a successful partnership with students and families. Specific emphasis will be applied to discussion of students and families from African, Asian, Middle Eastern, Hispanic, Native American, Pacific Islander and Eastern European decent.
Seminar participants will be able to:
  • develop a clearer sense of their own ethnic and cultural identities by identifying their own cultural values, assumptions and beliefs, and recognizing how this may impact their delivery of services to their students and parents;
  • examine their attitudes toward other ethno-cultural groups and enhance their appreciation of other cultures.
  • recognize the differences and similarities between the educator's approach to education and that of the students' and parents' when dealing with different cultural groups and how to manage and bridge the differences;
  • learn the characteristics and learning styles of various groups and individuals.
  • be able to conduct student and family interviews that elicit education beliefs and incorporate these beliefs into the education plan;
  • work more effectively with interpreters.

Throughout the seminar, realistic scenarios of interaction between educators and students and parents with different cultures and beliefs are used to enhance the comprehension and retention of the critical information that is provided during the seminar.
We strive to have our seminars encourage life-long learning in the participants, and teach that generalizations about populations are to be used only as a starting point to guide conversations with individual students and parents, not to stereotype them. In this way, knowledge of cultural competence can serve to shape more open-minded attitudes among educators, who in turn can assist students develop the knowledge, attitudes and skills necessary to interact positively in our diverse nation. A commitment by educators to cultural competency will bring us closer to this goal.

For further inquiries about our Cultural Competency Seminar for Educators, please contact us at 253.838.5444 during our regular office hours, Monday to Friday 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. and Saturday 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. PST, or e-mail us using the link below.

University Place, WA 253-653-9000
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