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.


35 Colleges with a Strong Concern for Social Justice and Service-Learning

(Ref: Making a Difference Colleges by Miriam Weinstein)

  1. Antioch College (Yellow Springs, Ohio)
  2. Beloit College (Beloit, Wisconsin)
  3. Berea College (Berea, Kentucky)
  4. Brown University (Providence, Rhode Island)
  5. Bryn Mawr College (Bryn Mawr, Pennsylvania)
  6. California University of Pennsylvania (California, Pennsylvania)
  7. Carleton College (Northfield, Minnesota)
  8. Center for Global Education (a program of Augsburg College, MI)
  9. Clark University (Worcester, MA)
  10. College of Environmental Science & Forestry State University of NY (Syracuse, NY)
  11. Connecticut College (New London, Connecticut)
  12. Cornell University School of Labor & Industrial Relations (Ithaca, NY)
  13. Earlham College (Richmond, Indiana)
  14. Eastern Mennonite U (Harrisonburg, Virginia)
  15. Eugene Lang College – New School University (NY, NY)
  16. Evergreen State College (Olympia, WA)
  17. Friends World Program (Southampton, NY)
  18. Goshen College (Goshen, Indiana)
  19. Grinnell College (Grinnell, Iowa)
  20. Hampshire College (Amherst, MA)
  21. Hendrix College (Conway, Arkansas)
  22. Lewis and Clark College (Portland, Oregon)
  23. Manchester College (Manchester, Indiana)
  24. Menno Simons College (Winnepeg, Canada)
  25. Naropa University (Boulder, Colorado)
  26. Oberlin College (Oberlin, Ohio)
  27. Olivet College (Olivet, Michigan)
  28. Pitzer College (Claremont, California)
  29. St. Olaf College (Northfield, Minnesota)
  30. Seattle University (Seattle, Washington)
  31. Stanford University (Stanford, California)
  32. Swarthmore College (Swarthmore, PA)
  33. Tufts University (Medford, MA)
  34. Woodbury College (Montpelier, VT)
  35. Yale University (New Haven, Connecticut)

(You ask, “What is Social Justice?” Check out Reach and Teach’s Defining “Social Justice”)