" . . .contrary to myth, effective collaborative cultures are not based on like-minded consensus. They value diversity because that is how they get different perspectives and access to ideas to address complex problems. Under such conditions, inequity is far less likely to go unnoticed or to be tolerated." -Fullan, 1999, p.37
This quote absolutely resonated with me. Often we like when groups flow and are easy- no resistance, no tension. True collaboration that is worthwhile and leads to positive change must contain diversity in order to see an issue from as many angles as possible. Without diversity, sometimes decisions are made that leave out one or many perspectives, which is, of course, problematic and counterproductive.
As I read about Maple View School District I couldn't help but compare my school district with Maple View. They sound very similar. The authors of the book asked the question "How do you learn about the families of your students?" That question got me thinking, and I'm not really sure how. I meet the families of the students I work with individually sometimes, but I don't know if our school really has a conscious, intentional, plan for meeting and getting to know families besides the standard Back-To-School-Night, Open House, and PTO meetings. I definitely see that as an area where our school site can grow.
As I think about how Cultural Proficiency can have positive impact on education at our school site, I see the most impact coming from having teachers use this approach in order to become aware of their own biases, prejudices and expectations. Since teachers at my site work very often one-on-one with students, they can personally impact and influence students in a big way.
Reading of Supt. Campbell's story in striving for major change in Maple View two components struck a chord with me. The first is that Dr. Campbell recognized the need to "strengthen the connection between teaching to standards and culturally proficient instruction" (p.57). If a standards-based instruction approach was to be implemented effectively in the classrooms of Maple View, the teaching staff would be much more connected and successful if they were also culturally proficient. The second item that struck a chord with me was the idea of viewing diversity as an opportunity rather than a challenge. That is HUGE! So often educators get stuck in talking about what is wrong and why the circumstances within a given population create barriers. The shift to looking at diversity as an opportunity is vital.
In table 4.1 on page 59 I also took particular notice of the shift in language between "assumptions that hold us" and "assumptions that we hold." If, as educators, we see assumptions as something we hold, then there is the possibility to challenge and change. When assumptions hold us we are powerless to do anything about it. Language is powerful! The most important question in this chapter is the one that asks us what it is going to take for us to grow as culturally proficient learning communities. I don't know that answer to that question, but I do know that being willing to look at ourselves and our communities honestly, and with an positive attitude, along with being aware of the language we use, will go a long way toward progress in that direction.