Our District Cultural Proficiency/Equity/Character Education Advisory Committee – consisting of central office administrators, principals, supervisors, teachers and students – meets monthly. Dr. Barbara Moore-Williams, a nationally known expert in this field, is a consultant to this committee. The committee is writing a five-year plan for the district. The committee also provides professional development to our principals, who in turn will train the teachers in their schools.
- The Barriers: Caveats that assist in overcoming resistance to change
- The Guiding Principles: Underlying values of the approach
- The Continuum: Language for describing both healthy and nonproductive policies, practices, and individual values and behaviors
- The Essential Elements: Behavioral standards for measuring and planning for growth toward cultural proficiency
Our principals are studying concepts such as implicit bias and microagressions that often lead to misunderstandings or conflicts between students. The principals then share with staff the strategies to support students and staff in a caring school community. We are building a community district-wide that firmly believes in fostering positive staff and student relationships through a family-like environment of assistance, acceptance, warmth and safety.
From the Curriculum & Instruction perspective, we have engaged in critical literacy professional development to help prepare teachers to best teach and present literature that addresses sensitive issues, topics and content. Additionally, our literature exposes students to different cultures and backgrounds. As a district, we want our students to engage with the text in ways that explore multiple perspectives, challenge intent and content, and examine the purposes of those texts in order to deepen the ways that the meaning is understood.
We partnered with the University of Pennsylvania to provide teachers with targeted, specifi and meaningful professional development. This work has produced introduction and overview units for teachers to utilize, as well as a rationale for teaching of the text and inquiry questions. This work has been completed for the texts Chinese Cinderella, The Giver, Seedfolks, and Warriors Don't Cry, to name a few, which are all required reading books at the middle school level. It is our plan to extend this work to the high school level.