OSCA Conference 2019 - Igniting Hope – October 11, 2019
Date: October 11, 2019
Location: Holiday Inn Portland Airport - 8439 NE Columbia Boulevard
Keynote speaker: Cheri Lovre "The Evolution of Crisis Response in Schools"
President’s Letter: Building Our Cultural Competency
We must first recognize that bias exists in the educational system. Look at your school’s race-based behavioral/discipline data. Are the percentage of referrals disproportionate for students of color? Examine the specific infractions that students of color are being written up for. Are these issues subjective? How can the school leadership team address the systemic cultural bias within your building?
Using a lens of cultural sensitivities, examine lesson plans, curriculum, books, wall hangings, etc. Do your students see, hear and learn about people who look like them? I had a friend tell me, “Growing up, I never saw a black person in my school. Not in my classroom. Not in the hallways. Not in the cafeteria. Not even in posters or books from the school library. It was incredibly lonely to feel inferior in my black skin.” We must intentionally use culturally responsive teaching. This includes using students’ culture to shape curriculum and instruction, bringing real-world issues into the classroom, modeling high expectations for all students and promoting respect for student differences.
“Courageous Conversations,” by Glenn Singleton and Curtis Linton, is an excellent book to use with educators to cultivate discussions for achieving equity in school settings. The authors encourage teams to engage in conversations that deepen interracial dialogue about race. To be successful in these conversations, team members must “stay engaged, experience discomfort, speak your truth and expect and accept non-closure.” These four agreements are the essential foundation for examining school systems and improving student achievement.
GLSEN.org is dedicated to supporting educators to make sure that every student in every school is valued and treated with respect. Their website offers free curriculum and activities to be used in the classroom and/or small groups. GLSEN also offers professional development and guidance on creating safe and supportive space for LGBTQ students.
Teaching Tolerance provides educators with resources to create inclusive school communities. They offer social justice and anti-bias educational curriculum free of charge. They also offer professional development – monthly magazines, workshops, podcasts, webinars and self-guided learning opportunities.
In our current social climate, it is imperative that we intentionally grow in our knowledge and skill sets to become culturally competent, so that students under our care and supervision feel valued and respected. We have the obligation to advocate on their behalf and address the unhealthy bias within our school systems.
Contact Laureen Held, OSCA president, at OSCAPresident@oscainc.org.