Posts Tagged ‘Achievement Gap’

Capstone–Standard 09 Meta-Reflection: Cultural Sensitivity

Standard 09 Meta-Reflection: Cultural Sensitivity–Capstone

Establishes a culturally inclusive learning climate that facilitates academic engagement and success for all students. 

Initial reflection during C & I Orientation:

Regardless of the range of differences in race, class, gender, religion, ethnicity and exceptionality represented by the students within my care, I must model respect for diversity and promote a learning environment that is free from bias. Specifically within my school setting, I must be especially mindful and responsive to the unique interests of students who belong to one of the two Native American tribal communities represented within our school district.

EDU 6525 Culturally Responsive Teaching

Please note: The requirement for this course was fulfilled via transfer credits earned through another university. I am grateful for SPU’s acceptance of my petition, however, regret not having the opportunity to take EDU 6525 Culturally Responsive Teaching*. I earned an A in the SEI/500 course entitled, Structured English Immersion which focused on the following: ELL Proficiency Standards for Listening and Speaking, Reading and Writing, data analysis and application, formal and informal assessment, learning experiences with SEI strategies, parent/home/school scaffolding, and Sheltered Instruction Observation Protocol (SIOP).

*In the context of taking Survey of Instructional Strategies through Seattle Pacific University, however, I briefly addressed the topic of Culturally Responsive Teaching in a blog, entitled: Cultural Competence—A Work in Progress:

As a special education teacher in a largely inclusive high school where nearly 40% of our students qualify for free or reduced lunch, I am currently working with special education students —ranging from the context of individual student appointments to one or more class periods per day—based on their IEP needs.

Over 10% of our total student population represents families from two local Native American tribes which have teamed together with our district in multiple ways within the past three decades to facilitate significant progress toward many of the goals highlighted within the readings this week.

While I have had the privilege of participating (both as a teacher and a parent) in a wide variety of creative activities designed to bridge the cultural gaps, including parent conferences held at tribal education centers, community dinners, reading celebrations, etc. –I still feel the personal need to improve my ability to connect with and embrace cultural differences within my own school and community (we live right on the boundary of one of the reservations).

Within the Synthesis of the Recommendations for the 2008 Achievement Gap Studies, many suggestions are offered for developing relationships between school districts and tribes. One particular thought that caught my attention was, “Teachers, educators and school administrators need to understand that disengagement from the school or not understanding how to help their children with homework does not mean “a lack of commitment to education” (section III, #2). This helps me to see some of my current students’ challenges in a different light. Perhaps it is like having a goal in mind, but not knowing how–or not having the tools to create realistic steps to reach that goal. For example, just because someone is struggling to create or maintain a workable plan to become physically fit, does not automatically mean that a person does not value or desire a healthy lifestyle.

As a teacher working to help my students to make progress and complete steps toward graduation and beyond, I found the following characteristics noted in the Synthesis of the Recommendations for the 2008 Achievement Gap Studies to be familiar…”(a) provide encouragement, support and respect for their cultural identity; and (b) be flexible and adaptable to help Native students make up for absences and missed assignments due to family issues, losses and cultural opportunities outside the classroom” (p. 12).

I am encouraged to see so many resources highlighted to address the cultural competency need and look forward to gaining new insights.  I so often feel like I’m “just beginning”—despite my status as a veteran teacher. My number one goal is to see my students as individuals in the context of “their world”–and to be willing to try to see “the world of school”, through their eyes.

In another SPU course, EDU 6655: Human Development and Principles of Learning, I responded to an assignment prompt by suggesting a service project through which students might work together with local fisheries personnel and local Native American tribes to assist and monitor the restoration and health of fish-bearing streams of North Kitsap County.In the midst of researching the benefits of organizing a community effort on this nature, I noted that according to Smith (2008):

Service learning presents many opportunities for adult participants to:

  • develop and maintain close relationships with other people,
  • give care to those in need
  • balance one’s needs with a responsibility to care for others
  •  …(possibly) contribute to an “ethic of care” as a consequence of being in a helping, caregiver, or service provider role (Smith, p 10).

I believe a project involving the local Native American tribal community with students in my school could strengthen existing and create new, healthy connections for all involved. I have often observed among the families of my Native American students, a strong emphasis on bonds between generations and sharing traditions with others in our community. Not only would this project reflect cultural sensitivity, but it would also serve to address the psychosocial needs of my students. “A particularly relevant dimension of psychosocial maturity is development of generativity among adults… Generativity concerns the ability to care for and provide for the next generation” (Smith, p. 10).

Artifacts for Standard 09:

I have selected two artifacts for this standard—both from University of Phoenix, however, since digital copies are no longer available, hard copies of these papers have been scanned and uploaded. Please note that in the conversion process, some of the formatting has been distorted.

Artifact 1: Artifact–Assessments for English Language Learners

Artifact 2: Artifact–Make a Difference Proposal


Closing Opportunity Gaps in Washington’s Public Education System

Cross, T. L. (2001). Gifted children and Erikson’s theory of psychosocial development. Gifted Child Today, 24(1), 54-55,61.

James, L. G. (2011). EDU 6655 Human Development and Principles of Learning, Seattle Pacific University. Service Learning for Gifted Students and Adults  Retrieved from

James, L. G. (2012). EDU 6526 A Survey  of Instructional Strategies, Seattle Pacific University. Module 1 Reflection: Cultural Competence—A Work in Progress. Retrieved from

Smith, M. (2008). Does service learning promote adult development? Theoretical perspectives and directions for research. New Directions For Adult And Continuing Education, (118), 5-15.