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Developing Critical Cultural Competence

Developing Critical Cultural Competence
A Guide for 21st-Century Educators

  • Jewell E. Cooper - The University of North Carolina at Greensboro, USA
  • Ye He - The University of North Carolina at Greensboro, USA
  • Barbara B. Levin - The University of North Carolina at Greensboro, USA

Foreword by Christine Sleeter

Additional resources:

November 2011 | 232 pages | Corwin
This book is designed for professional development staff, teacher educators, lead teachers, administrators, and other school leaders who want to engage teachers in developing their critical cultural competence. Due to the increasingly diverse nature of todayÆs schools, and imperative to increase the achievement of all students, no matter their background, there is great need for 21st century teachers to develop critical cultural competence. This is done best through on-going professional development for both new and experienced teachers because it requires much more than just knowing about the diverse nature of todayÆs students. While culturally competent teachers can reflect on their own practices, and seek knowledge about their students, families and communities, teachers with critical cultural competence have to become more self-analytical in their reflections, innovative in their actions, and collaborative in helping to transform their schoolsÆ culture. Therefore, this book offers numerous activities to engage teachers in the exploration of themselves as a cultural beings and innovative ways to learn more about the diversity of todayÆs students from their families and communities. The book is organized around professional development activities that focus on the three inseparable aspects required for developing teachersÆ critical cultural competency: understanding of self; understanding of students; and understanding of families and communities. The book concludes with recommendations for how to plan and fund professional development for building teachersÆ critical cultural competence in order to reach the ultimate goal of increasing student achievement.
List of Resources
Foreword by Christine Sleeter
Why do we need this book?

What is critical cultural competence?

Who is this book for?

How is this book different from other books about diversity and multicultural education?

Organization and Special Features of This Book


About the Authors
Introduction: What Do We Need to Do to Prepare Teachers for Today's Diverse Classrooms?
Why do we need educators with critical cultural competence in today's schools?

How can we move professional development about diversity beyond knowledge?

Who are we in this thing called diversity?

How do we leverage assets of students, families and communities?

Bringing It All Together

Summary of Key Points

Reflection and Extension

1. Common Practices: How Are We Currently Preparing Educators for Diverse Classrooms?

Common Goals for Multicultural Education

Foundational Understandings About Diversity

Milner's Five Conceptual Repertoires of Diversity

Empathy Versus Sympathy

Strength-Based Approach

Materials and Resources


Historic and Contemporary Videos

Online Learning Resources

Guest Speakers

Other Commonly Used Activities and Approaches

Discussions and Reflection

Case Studies and Case Discussions

Book Clubs

Activity 1.1 Book Club Jigsaw Activity

The Game of Monopoly

Empathy Activities

Summary of Key Points

Reflection and Extension

Online Extensions

2. Who I Am: How Can We Understand Ourselves as Cultural Beings?

Exploring Personal Characteristics and Beliefs

Activity 2.1 Autobiographies

Activity 2.2 Educational Philosophy

Activity 2.3 All About Me Activities

Activity 2.4 All in a Picture and Snapshot of Me Activities

Revealing Beliefs and Identities to Others

Activity 2.5 Intercultural Autograph Hunt

Activity 2.6 Bio-Poems

Activity 2.7 the Privilege Walk

Summary of Key Points

Reflection and Extension

Additional Resources

Online Extensions

Focus for Professional Learning Communities (PLCs)

3. Moving From Beliefs and Visions to Action: How Can We Link Our Personal and Professional Identities?

Activity 3.1 Visioning

Activity 3.2 Personal Practical Theories (PPTs)

Activity 3.3 Action Research

Summary of Key Points

Reflection and Extension

Additional Resources

Online Extensions

Focus for Professional Learning Communities (PLCs)

4. How Do We Prepare Educators to Understand and Appreciate Student Diversity?

From Understanding Diversity to Appreciating Diversity

Activity 4.1 Diversity Fact Sheets

Activity 4.2 Website Reviews

Activity 4.3 Interactive Survey

Activity 4.4 Description, Interpretation, and Evaluation

Summary of Key Points

Reflection and Extension

Online Extensions

Focus for Professional Learning Communities (PLCs)

5. From Critical Awareness to Transformative Action: How Do We Prepare Educators to Become Cultural Brokers for Student Success?

From Critical Awareness to Transformative Action

Cross-Cultural Competence and Critical Self-Reflection

Activity 5.1 Active Listening

Activity 5.2 Classroom Observation Analysis

Activity 5.3 ABCs Project

Summary of Key Points

Reflection and Extension

Online Extensions

Focus for Professional Learning Communities (PLCs)

6. Learning About the Community: How Can We Learn More About Parents and Families?

Standards-Based Reform

Benefits of Invoving Parents and Families in Schools

Traditional Ways of Involving Parents in Schools

Nontraditional Approaches to Parents and Involvement

Barriers and Facilitators to Involvement

Extending Traditional Approaches to Parent and Family Involvement

Activity 6.1 Touring the Neighborhood--The Do's and Don'ts

Activity 6.2 Home Visits at the Beginning of the School Year

Activity 6.3 Preparing for the First Parent Conference

Summary of Key Points

Reflection and Extension

Online Extensions

Focus for Professional Learning Communities (PLCs)

7. Community-Based Learning: How Can We Learn From Parents, Families, and Communities?

How diverse are families and our communities?

Partnering with Parents, Families, and Communities

What is community-based learning?

Community-Based Learning Activities

Activity 7.1 Home-Community Camera Adventure

Activity 7.2 Walking a Mile in Another's Shoes

Transformative Effects of Community Adventures

Summary of Key Points

Reflection and Extension

Online Extensions

Focus for Professional Learning Communities (PLCs)

8. Bringing It All Together: How Do We Maximize Teaching and Learning Opportunities?

Connecting Culturally Responsive Pedagogy and Critical Cultural Competence

Taking Risks to Develop Critical Cultural Competence

Inspiring Critical Reflection and Awareness

Transforming Professional Practice

Using Rogers's Adoption of Innovation Theory

Using the Concerns-Based Adoption Model (CBAM)

Planning for Professional Development

Before We Start

Pre- and Postassessment


Summary of Key Points

Final Words

Additional Resources

Reflection and Extension

Online Extensions



“This book offers a coherent collection of theories and practices for a strong multicultural teacher education. It would act as a useful text or starting place for an entire course.”

Judson Laughter, Assistant Professor of English Education
University of Tennessee, Knoxville

“As I read this book, it became clear that my long-held belief about the meaning of cultural competence needed a makeover. I am now convinced that my personal definition of diversity should embrace a much deeper appreciation of differences and transformative action.”

Denise Carlson, Curriculum Consultant
Heartland Area Education Agency, Johnston, IA

“This book effectively describes the importance of individual teachers learning about themselves as a person in order to clearly differentiate for students in the classroom.”

Lizette D D'Amico, K-12 ELL Coordinator
New Canaan Public Schools, CT

“With a clear theme of preparing educators for teaching diverse learners and creating critical cultural competence, the author hooks the reader and entices them to continue the journey of developing cultural responsiveness in the classroom and community.”

Lori Grossman, Mentor Program Coordinator
Houston Independent School District, TX

Developing Critical Cultural Competence offers a rich resource of information and activities for professional development that supports cultural understanding and goes beyond the assumptions and myths that often surround the diverse student populations in our nation’s schools.”

Carol Gallegos, Literacy Coach
Hanford Elementary School District, CA

Developing Critical Cultural Competence provides educators with the inspiration, knowledge, and tools to move from theory to action in seeking to eliminate the achievement gap."

Bess Scott, Director of Elementary Education
Lincoln Public Schools, NE

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