Culturally Relevant Articles and Text

Why Students Need #BeYou


By Dr. Sharroky Hollie, Executive Director, The Center for Culturally Responsive Teaching and Learning

For those who deeply understand cultural responsiveness, a query should arise for you eventually. When do your students have the opportunity to be who they are culturally and linguistically during the instructional day (as opposed to recess, lunch, and PE)? If you are earnestly practicing responsiveness, then you are dutifully giving your students opportunities for situational appropriateness through validating, affirming, building and bridging. You are talking to them differently, you are leveraging their cultural assets to build and strengthen your relationships with them, and you are teaching them differently (skillset). At some point, though, you want the focus to be validate and affirm and NOT build and bridge. You want moments when the students can be themselves culturally and linguistically…just because they can and it is celebrated as a contribution to their learning affectively (connectedness) and effectively (achievement). Students being themselves culturally and linguistically is the essence of the #BeYou Campaign.

BeYou as a concept is a challenge to you to ensure that there are times when your students can be who they are during instruction. It is an alternative narrative to the often used SLANT posters and protocols that have become so ubiquitous in schools. SLANT stands for Sit up tall, Listen, Ask questions, Nod your head, and Track the teacher. Note that there are many variations of SLANT.

We want students to BeYou (VA) and to SLANT (BB) situationally. As it stands now, the use of SLANT is imbalanced when looking through a CLR lens. It proves to be an over emphasis on our students acting a certain way, typically in alignment with the school culture behaviors and expectations. BeYou is not meant to counter this dynamic. It is intended to create more opportunities for structured ways for students to be themselves culturally and linguistically.

The beginning of this school year officially kicks off our #BeYou Campaign and it starts with you:

  1. Intentionally plan on instructional activities whereby students are utilizing their cultural assets based on the Rings of Culture and/or the Iceberg Concept Culture.
  2. Evidence it. Take a picture. Record it. Get student testimonies.
  1. Send it out via social media - #BeYou, @validateaffirm on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram or YouTube

The recommendation is that you focus on strictly validating and affirming a specific cultural behavior for a period of time - one to three weeks - and  use your skillset or CLR Toolbox to attach activities to the selected behavior. Just validate and affirm!

Each month this year, I will suggest a behavior to focus on based on behaviors that are the most likely to be misunderstood. In the skillset section of VABB Perspectives, there will be suggested activities tied to that behavior. The activities will be divided by basic (anybody can do it), advanced (requires mindset, which means intent and purposeful use around culture and language, and premium (includes the mindset piece plus multiple steps and more preparation to do successfully).

August #BeYou Focus Behavior: Socio-centrism

Description: the act of social interaction is more valued than the content being discussed; expectation of non-linear discourse patterns. Learning better by talking, socializing.

Common Misunderstanding: Off task, distracting, disruptive, not focused, talkative, or chatterboxes.

Rings of Culture: Gender, Age, and Ethnic

See the skillset section of this issue for activities that validate and affirm socio-centrism and for when students can #BeYou.


Build Your Mindset

May 2017

By Dr. Sharroky Hollie, Executive Director, The Center for Culturally Responsive Teaching and Learning

On the surface, eliminating ignorance about the cultures and languages of others seems doable because ignorance is mitigated with knowledge. The more we know about others, the less ignorant we are, and we then reduce our biases and fears. Simple, right? Not at all. The challenge is building knowledge and accepting that in order to be culturally responsive, there has to be a commitment to lifelong learning. My view is by hook or crook, you must relentlessly pursue knowing more about the students you are teaching culturally and linguistically.  It sounds corny, but the more you know the more you grow.

Summer break is a great time for knowledge building. Coupled with swimming, snorkeling, surfing, sailing, or any other fun activity that starts with s, learning about others can be a part of  relaxing, rejuvenating, and refreshing. Chances are you are planning to take a book or two along the way for a leisurely read while you are on a plane, on a beach, or on a lake. So, here are four titles for your summer VABB knowledge building. All of these titles are fiction/narrative, for the most part, proving that a better understanding of other cultures and languages does not always involve academic, research-based, non-fiction. That's not fun when you are basking in the sun somewhere tropical.


BEYOU Poster

BEYOU Poster

 

Be You Campaign

April 2017


By Dr. Sharroky Hollie, Executive Director, The Center for Culturally Responsive Teaching and Learniing

Late winter and spring are my favorite seasons of the CLR year because I am visiting schools and observing CLR instruction. As a teacher of teachers, I get to see how my students are infusing CLR into their daily instructional practices and how schools are implementing changing mindsets around being more culturally and linguistically responsive to all students. In short, I have a chance to check in on their VABB status.

This year, a developing theme has been this: how are schools/classrooms validating and affirmingthe students' cultural behaviors in the instructional context without having to "codeswitch"? The explicit validation and affirmation of students around their cultural behaviors is the key to your successful CLRness. VAing your students triggers building and bridging, and by extension your students’ buy-in to being situationally appropriate. Your VA has to be intentional and purposeful;consistent and authentic; proactive and reactive (use teachable moments).

When do your students have the opportunity to be who they are in the instructional context? BeYou is the acrostic that I am using to stimulate educators to be conscious about planning for students to keep their cultural and linguistic behaviors as assets in school and not turn them into liabilities. BeYou, the acronym, is the creation of Carrie Eicher, assistant principal in the North St. Paul, Maplewood, Oakdale School District and it stands for:

B-Be

E-Engaged

Y-Your

O-Own

U-Unique way

BeYou as a concept is a challenge to us all to ensure that students can be who they are at school. It is a direct rebuttal to the often used SLANT posters and protocol that has become so ubiquitous in schools. SLANT stands for Sit up tall, Listen, Ask questions, Nod your head, and Track the teacher. Note that there are many variations of SLANT. We want students to BeYou (VA) and to SLANT (BB) situationally. As it stands now, the use of SLANT is imbalanced when looking through a CLR lens. It proves to be an over emphasis on our students acting a certain way, typically in alignment with the school culture behaviors and expectations. BeYou is not meant to counter this dynamic. It is intended to create more opportunities for structured ways for students to be themselves culturally and linguistically.

Starting now with the hopes of building momentum into the Fall, we want to start a BeYou campaign. How does it work? First, you have to intentionally plan on instructional activities whereby students are utilizing their cultural assets based on the Rings of Culture or the Iceberg Concept Culture. Then, you have to evidence it. Take a picture. Record it. Get student testimonies. Last, send it out via social media - #BeYou and #validateaffirm to  Twitter @validateaffirm. VABB is about both - validatingand affirming and building and bridging. Let's make sure we are authentically doing both by allowing our students to be who they are first.