37 Success Factors for Cultural Competency in Teachers

(ref: Teaching With A Cultural Eye Program, BayCES.org)

Most educators have heard the term “cultural competence” – but have never received adequate preparation to appropriately respond to the challenges of a diverse classroom. How do teacher and administrator’s own cultural identities influence their interactions with students, parents, and colleagues? Here are some success factors proposed by Bay Area Coalition for Equitable Schools (BayCES)

  1. Knows students well: academically, socially, emotionally
  2. Builds relationships with students as people
  3. Involved in the cultivation of the relationship beyond the classroom
  4. Demonstrates a visible connectedness with each student
  5. Immersed into the students’ culture
  6. Provides a supportive classroom structure for academic, social, and emotional success
  7. Welcomes students into the classroom as a place that is theirs and not just the teacher’s (making it visible in how the classroom is set up)
  8. Provides necessary routines that help students become learners and feel safe in the classroom
  9. Emotes a "we’re all in this together" affect
  10. Encourages a community of learners who are responsible for each other inside and outside the classroom
  11. Promotes psychological safety in the classroom
  12. Promotes the intellectual leadership of students who are educationally, economically, socially, politically, and culturally disenfranchised
  13. Apprentices students into a learning community
  14. Has high academic standards and expectations for each student / all students
  15. Exudes publicly, positively, enthusiastically belief that each student can achieve those standards
  16. Knows very well and loves the subject matter, and conveys that to students (is not cynical about area of content knowledge or enthusiasm about it)
  17. Legitimates students’ real life experiences by building those experiences into the curriculum
  18. Makes every effort to welcome and celebrate their culture (urban youth culture, African American culture, Latino culture, etc.) as an integral part of the learning environment and process
  19. Helps them to code switch, know why, and also values their home culture and language
  20. Provides scaffolding into cognitive skills to think deeply about content
  21. Differentiates teaching and learning by learning readiness, interests, and learning styles (including culturally sensitive adaptations)
  22. Sees teaching as an art and themselves as artists
  23. Helps students make connections between their community, national, and global identities
  24. Views knowledge (hence curriculum) critically; develops students’ "habits of mind" to enable them to take a critical stance on their learning
  25. Helps students develop skills to participate fully in the construction of knowledge
  26. Helps students develop what Ladson-Billings calls their "socio-political awareness"
  27. Treats students as competent and developing
  28. Understands own race and its consequences (personally, historically, systemically)
  29. Is calm and non-reactive, but firm, fair, consistent
  30. Understands cultural behavior patterns (as a result, does not send more African American boys out for discipline)
  31. Does not ‘dis’ students in front of their peers
  32. Is not (if White) paralyzed by racial guilt or liberal paternalism
  33. Is (if a person of color) aware of the possibility of internalized racism and resulting low expectations or over-protectiveness of students of color
  34. Is their own selves with students, honest and human
  35. Has high self-esteem and a high regard for others
  36. Observes other culturally competent teachers interacting with and teaching students
  37. Participates in an equity centered professional learning community so as to be committed to ongoing growth and development in these areas

Bay Area Coalition for Equitable Schools (BayCES) based in Oakland, CA is working to dramatically improve educational experiences, outcomes, and life options for students and families who have been historically underserved by their schools and districts. Reach and Teach and Design Action are proud to have been involved in creating their organization’s website.

Please check out “My People Are… Youth Pride in Mixed Heritage” an iPride film promoting positive racial & ethnic identity in ALL children and highlighting the multiracial experience.

12 Things About Pete Seeger

(ref: Pete Seeger Appreciation Page, How can I keep from singing by Sarah Van Gelder in Yes! Magazine, and other various sources)

  1. Seeger went to Harvard but left after two years just before final exams in 1938. He made his way to New York, where he eventually landed a job with the Archives of American Folk Music.
  2. On dropping out of the communist movement: “I was never enthusiastic about being somebody who was supposed to be silent about being a member of something.”
  3. In 1955 before the House Un-American Activities Committee, Seeger used the First Amendment rather than the Fifth as his reason for refusing to discuss his politics and associations. “Using the Fifth Amendment,” Seeger explained, “is in effect saying, ‘you have no right to ask me this question'; but using the First Amendment means, ‘you have no right to ask any American such questions.’
  4. Libby Frank, in 1952 insisted on singing “my brothers and my sisters” instead of “all of my brothers” in the Seeger/Lee song “If I had a hammer”. Lee resisted the change at first. “It doesn’t ripple off the tongue as well. How about ‘all of my siblings’?” Lee later acquiesced. (ref: www.mysongbook.de)
  5. Pete’s famous banjo reads: “This machine surrounds hate and forces it to surrender.” (ref: Yes! Magazine)
  6. Testimony to his strong faith in his country’s ultimate and necessary commitment to freedom of expression, Seeger wrote the words to “Bring them Home” which includes the line “…one of the great things about America is that we can speak our minds…” during a time he was being regularly blacklisted and his words and songs were heavily censored.
  7. Seeger popularized “We shall overcome” when he published his version of the gospel song in People’s Songs in 1947. It later became one of the most memorable anthems of the civil rights movement in the 60’s being sung at rallies, vigils, and protests.
  8. On traveling with Woodie Guthrie, “He taught me how to hitchhike and how to ride freight trains. You don’t get on a freight when it’s in the station—the railroad bulls will kick you off. You go about 100 yards or maybe 200 yards outside to where the train is just picking up speed and you can trot alongside it. You throw your banjo in an empty car, and then you throw yourself in. And you then might go 200 or 300 miles before you stop.”
  9. “Waist Deep in the Big Muddy”, an allegorical anti-war song written in 1967 during the war in Vietnam was published by Columbia records but deemed too controversial and never sent to retail stores. It was The Smothers Brothers that made it possible for the world to know about the song when they invited Pete Seeger to be a guest on their television show. The song was edited out before air time by TV executives but The Smothers Brothers got the last word when they went to the press saying, “CBS censors our best jokes, they censored Seeger’s best song. It ain’t fair.” (ref: www.peteseeger.net)
  10. In October, 1994, President Clinton awarded Seeger the National Medal of the Arts praising him as “an inconvenient artist who dared to sing things as he saw them.”
  11. A Pete Seeger quote, “Learning how to do something in your hometown is the most important thing. … If there’s a world here in a hundred years, it’s going to be saved by tens of millions of little things.”
  12. Pete Seeger’s birthday is May 3rd. He turns 90 in 2009.

Read At 89 Pete Seeger’s Still A Rebel! at Reach and Teach.

10 Interesting Facts About This Land is Your Land

(ref: Freedom Song by Mary Turck, woodyguthrie.org, wikipedia)

  1. In 1940, Woody Guthrie wrote This Land is Your Land because he was tired of the radio overplaying Irving Berlin’s “God Bless America” which he thought was unrealistic and complacent. [wikipedia]
  2. The tune for the song was taken from a gospel hymn “When the world’s on fire” recorded by the Carter Family in 1930.
  3. A verse that is normally left out when performed…
    Was a high wall there that tried to stop me
    A sign was painted said: Private Property
    But on the back side it didn’t say nothing
    That side was made for you and me.

  4. Another verse that is normally not sung…
    One bright sunny morning in the shadow of the steeple
    By the Relief Office I saw my people
    As they stood hungry, I stood there wondering
    If this land was made for you and me?

  5. Various artists who have performed the song include: Bob Dylan, The Kingston Trio, the Limeliters, Pete Seeger, Peter Paul and Mary, and Bruce Springsteen
  6. The song was most recently sung by Bruce Springsteen and Pete Seeger (with the usually omitted verses intact) during President Obama’s Inaugural Celebration at the Lincoln Memorial
  7. The soundtrack to the movie Hard travelin’ includes an original recording of Woody Guthrie singing the song with his son Arlo Guthrie digitally mixed in to sing the omitted verses as taught to him by his father.
  8. Guthrie’s original “copyright” on his song reads:
    This song is Copyrighted in U.S., under Seal of Copyright #154085, for a period of 28 years, and anybody caught singin’ it without our permission, will be mighty good friends of ourn, cause we don’t give a dern. Publish it. Write it. Sing it. Swing to it. Yodel it. We wrote it, that’s all we wanted to do.
  9. Woody Guthrie was born on July 14, 1912, in Okemah, Oklahoma. Guthrie was disabled by and died of Huntington’s disease which ended his life in 1967.
  10. A Woody Guthrie quote [woodyguthrie.org],
    “A folk song is what’s wrong and how to fix it or it could be
    who’s hungry and where their mouth is or
    who’s out of work and where the job is or
    who’s broke and where the money is or
    who’s carrying a gun and where the peace is.”


Freedom Song by Mary Turck is available at Reach and Teach

30 Articles in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights

(ref: United Nations website (un.org), We Are All Born Free – The Universal Declaration of Human Rights in Pictures)

We Are All Born Free

Click to view images from "We Are All Born Free: The Universal Declaration of Human Rights in Pictures". Book sales benefit Amnesty International

From the very beginning, human rights has been a major concern of the United Nations. On December 10, 1948 the General Assembly of the United Nations adopted and proclaimed the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Following this historic act the Assembly called upon all Member countries to publicize the text of the Declaration and “to cause it to be disseminated, displayed, read and expounded principally in schools and other educational institutions, without distinction based on the political status of countries or territories. United Nations Day is celebrated on October 24th and commemorates the founding of this organization in 1945.

Article 1.

    All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights.They are endowed with reason and conscience and should act towards one another in a spirit of brotherhood.

Article 2.

    Everyone is entitled to all the rights and freedoms set forth in this Declaration, without distinction of any kind, such as race, colour, sex, language, religion, political or other opinion, national or social origin, property, birth or other status. Furthermore, no distinction shall be made on the basis of the political, jurisdictional or international status of the country or territory to which a person belongs, whether it be independent, trust, non-self-governing or under any other limitation of sovereignty.

Article 3.

    Everyone has the right to life, liberty and security of person.

Article 4.

    No one shall be held in slavery or servitude; slavery and the slave trade shall be prohibited in all their forms.

Article 5.

    No one shall be subjected to torture or to cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment.

Article 6.

    Everyone has the right to recognition everywhere as a person before the law.

Article 7.

    All are equal before the law and are entitled without any discrimination to equal protection of the law. All are entitled to equal protection against any discrimination in violation of this Declaration and against any incitement to such discrimination.

Article 8.

    Everyone has the right to an effective remedy by the competent national tribunals for acts violating the fundamental rights granted him by the constitution or by law.

Article 9.

    No one shall be subjected to arbitrary arrest, detention or exile.

Article 10.

    Everyone is entitled in full equality to a fair and public hearing by an independent and impartial tribunal, in the determination of his rights and obligations and of any criminal charge against him.

Article 11.

    (1) Everyone charged with a penal offence has the right to be presumed innocent until proved guilty according to law in a public trial at which he has had all the guarantees necessary for his defence.(2) No one shall be held guilty of any penal offence on account of any act or omission which did not constitute a penal offence, under national or international law, at the time when it was committed. Nor shall a heavier penalty be imposed than the one that was applicable at the time the penal offence was committed.

Article 12.

    No one shall be subjected to arbitrary interference with his privacy, family, home or correspondence, nor to attacks upon his honour and reputation. Everyone has the right to the protection of the law against such interference or attacks.

Article 13.

    (1) Everyone has the right to freedom of movement and residence within the borders of each state.(2) Everyone has the right to leave any country, including his own, and to return to his country.

Article 14.

    (1) Everyone has the right to seek and to enjoy in other countries asylum from persecution.(2) This right may not be invoked in the case of prosecutions genuinely arising from non-political crimes or from acts contrary to the purposes and principles of the United Nations.

Article 15.

    (1) Everyone has the right to a nationality.(2) No one shall be arbitrarily deprived of his nationality nor denied the right to change his nationality.

Article 16.

    (1) Men and women of full age, without any limitation due to race, nationality or religion, have the right to marry and to found a family. They are entitled to equal rights as to marriage, during marriage and at its dissolution.(2) Marriage shall be entered into only with the free and full consent of the intending spouses.(3) The family is the natural and fundamental group unit of society and is entitled to protection by society and the State.

Article 17.

    (1) Everyone has the right to own property alone as well as in association with others.(2) No one shall be arbitrarily deprived of his property.

Article 18.

    Everyone has the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion; this right includes freedom to change his religion or belief, and freedom, either alone or in community with others and in public or private, to manifest his religion or belief in teaching, practice, worship and observance.

Article 19.

    Everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression; this right includes freedom to hold opinions without interference and to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers.

Article 20.

    (1) Everyone has the right to freedom of peaceful assembly and association.(2) No one may be compelled to belong to an association.

Article 21.

    (1) Everyone has the right to take part in the government of his country, directly or through freely chosen representatives.(2) Everyone has the right of equal access to public service in his country.(3) The will of the people shall be the basis of the authority of government; this will shall be expressed in periodic and genuine elections which shall be by universal and equal suffrage and shall be held by secret vote or by equivalent free voting procedures.

Article 22.

    Everyone, as a member of society, has the right to social security and is entitled to realization, through national effort and international co-operation and in accordance with the organization and resources of each State, of the economic, social and cultural rights indispensable for his dignity and the free development of his personality.

Article 23.

    (1) Everyone has the right to work, to free choice of employment, to just and favourable conditions of work and to protection against unemployment.(2) Everyone, without any discrimination, has the right to equal pay for equal work.(3) Everyone who works has the right to just and favourable remuneration ensuring for himself and his family an existence worthy of human dignity, and supplemented, if necessary, by other means of social protection.(4) Everyone has the right to form and to join trade unions for the protection of his interests.

Article 24.

    Everyone has the right to rest and leisure, including reasonable limitation of working hours and periodic holidays with pay.

Article 25.

    (1) Everyone has the right to a standard of living adequate for the health and well-being of himself and of his family, including food, clothing, housing and medical care and necessary social services, and the right to security in the event of unemployment, sickness, disability, widowhood, old age or other lack of livelihood in circumstances beyond his control.(2) Motherhood and childhood are entitled to special care and assistance. All children, whether born in or out of wedlock, shall enjoy the same social protection.

Article 26.

    (1) Everyone has the right to education. Education shall be free, at least in the elementary and fundamental stages. Elementary education shall be compulsory. Technical and professional education shall be made generally available and higher education shall be equally accessible to all on the basis of merit.(2) Education shall be directed to the full development of the human personality and to the strengthening of respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms. It shall promote understanding, tolerance and friendship among all nations, racial or religious groups, and shall further the activities of the United Nations for the maintenance of peace.(3) Parents have a prior right to choose the kind of education that shall be given to their children.

Article 27.

    (1) Everyone has the right freely to participate in the cultural life of the community, to enjoy the arts and to share in scientific advancement and its benefits.(2) Everyone has the right to the protection of the moral and material interests resulting from any scientific, literary or artistic production of which he is the author.

Article 28.

    Everyone is entitled to a social and international order in which the rights and freedoms set forth in this Declaration can be fully realized.

Article 29.

    (1) Everyone has duties to the community in which alone the free and full development of his personality is possible.(2) In the exercise of his rights and freedoms, everyone shall be subject only to such limitations as are determined by law solely for the purpose of securing due recognition and respect for the rights and freedoms of others and of meeting the just requirements of morality, public order and the general welfare in a democratic society.(3) These rights and freedoms may in no case be exercised contrary to the purposes and principles of the United Nations.

Article 30.

    Nothing in this Declaration may be interpreted as implying for any State, group or person any right to engage in any activity or to perform any act aimed at the destruction of any of the rights and freedoms set forth herein.

We Are All Born FreeReach and Teach – The Peace and Social Justice Learning Company offers a beautifully illustrated children’s book We Are All Born Free – The Universal Declaration of Human Rights in Pictures. Proceeds from book sales are donated to Amnesty International.

Also check out…
37 Rights in the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child


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