Journal #1: Getting Centered- The Tools Of Cultural Proficiency (Reflections on Chapter 1: Culturally Proficient Learning Communities)
"Most people I meet want to develop more harmonious and satisfying relationships- in their organizations, communities, and personal lives. But we may not realize that this desire can only be satisfied by partnering with new and strange allies- curiosity and disturbance." -Margaret Wheatley, 2001
I agree with the above quote. The only way to truly develop harmonious and mutually satisfying relationships is to become curious about others, which many times will create the needed disturbance and disruption that leads to change. Becoming curious about others challenges us to soften our boundaries and edges and make room for different perspectives and realities. In my current roles as an educator, I can see areas within where I work that are strong in creating learning communities, whether at the site or district level, and I can also see plenty of room for growth that I think will be beneficial to our larger learning community as well as to myself. (Pg. 4)
As I read through the vignettes on page 5 that describe different learning communities and experiences, it all sounded rather familiar. My observation is that many of these vignettes describe experiences that are well-intentioned or have the ability to affect the learner, but what is lacking is a cohesive plan, focus and structure to take well-intentioned ideas to a place where deep learning can take place. There is power in a group, rather than an individual, in engaging in focused learning- the kind of learning that disrupts and transforms individuals as well as PLCs. Many times the well-intentioned ideas and experiences are met with obstacles like: not enough planning time, not enough time to research and implement, politics, and conversations like: "That's the way it's always been done," Having the vision to create true professional learning communities has the potential to impact learning for all stakeholders in education. (page 6)
When I read "Cultural Proficiency Is About Intention," that resonated with me (Cross 1989). Cross is spot on in describing cultural proficiency as an inside-out process. It is inside-out both personally and as an organization and community. If the people involved are willing to search themselves first, then they open themselves up for truly looking at their own assumptions, biases, and cultural knowledge, noticing (with the respectful help of others) misconceptions or gaps in accurate information and learning. Working within professional learning communities to intentionally learn, grow and practice, can help individuals fill in the gaps in their cultural knowledge. From that newly gained perspective, individuals will transform the way they engage with the communities they are part of. Resistance to Change, Systems of Oppression and A Sense of Privilege and Entitlement are all barriers to true cultural understanding, empathy and equity. What struck me is the idea that people benefit from membership in a particular cultural group, but many times aren't even aware of those benefits. That is important for individuals to learn about and consider. The Guiding Principles of Cultural Proficiency are vital. My reaction to reading those is that it is important to realize that each student in our classrooms and each colleague we work with, all have a cultural story and an individual story, and intentionally learning about each other and each other's perspectives creates optimal learning for all. (pg. 16)
The Cultural Proficiency Continuum really got me thinking. I imagine many people would place themselves farther over on the right of the continuum than they really are. I am looking forward to learning more about myself and where I truly fall on that continuum, as I also work to enhance my awareness and actions in working toward my own cultural proficiency. (pg. 18)
The Essential Elements of Cultural Proficiency seems like a refined, laser-specific summary of the ideal elements present in a healthy, culturally proficient community. A learning community which has reached that ideal state is one in which the culture of the learning environment is such that differences are embraced and informal and formal procedures are in place to meet the needs of all stakeholders.
Three Key Learnings From Chapter 1: