Culturally Proficient Practice: Supporting Educators of English Learning Students


Reyes L. Quezada, Delores B. Lindsey & Randall B. Lindsey

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  • Part I: The Context and Tools for Educating English Learning Students

    Part II: River View School District: A Context for Educating Linguistically and Culturally Diverse Students

    Part III: Next Steps

  • Praise for Culturally Proficient Practice: Supporting Educators of English Learning Students

    “Simply, the imaginary monocultural mainstream simply does not exist anymore. This important book sets the stage for us to teach about, through, and with cultural and linguistic diversity—our own and that of our students and colleagues. It is a valuable and practical resource for teacher education.”

    Allan Luke, Faculty of Education Queensland University of Technology, Australia

    “An excellent guide for a school district working to improve instruction for English learners by promoting the cultural proficiency of teachers, administrators, and paraprofessionals. The book provides a succinct overview of historical issues related to the education of English learners. In addition, it employs a model that can be used with school staff as educators engage in a process to consider how they are educating these students and how they might improve on their practice. An important and valuable feature of the book is the use of a case study of a school district as it engages in such a self-inquiry process.”

    Irma M. Olmedo, Associate Professor Emerita College of Education, University of Illinois, Chicago, IL

    “The book provides compelling rationale for working to improve instruction for English learners and offers practical advice to new teachers, administrators, and paraprofessionals.”

    Diana Garrido, In-School Resource Teacher San Diego Unified School District, San Diego, CA

    “This book offers a unique set of tools for teachers and administrators, encouraging them to work cooperatively in identifying negative ‘institutionalized’ beliefs that are barriers to creating healthy teaching practices and cultural competency. The authors have creatively included a historical background on English learner issues, frameworks, rubrics, and vignettes that invite educator participation. The authors offer a comprehensible plan of action for schools, administrators, and teachers to become culturally competent in order to most effectively work with English learners AND each other.”

    Carmen E. Quintana, Educator and Board member McGill School of Success, San Diego, CA

    “With today's diverse classrooms, an understanding of the sociocultural factors that influence student success is foundational to creating environments that encourage high levels of academic achievement and well-being for all learners. Through a structure of inquiry and reflective application of the tools of cultural proficiency, this engaging book provides practical strategies for building an asset-based approach to meeting the academic and social needs of English learning students.”

    Susan MacDonald, Executive Officer of Instruction Ottawa-Carleton Board of Education, Ottawa, Ontario

    “Culturally Proficient Practice: Supporting Educators of English Learning Students is not only a timely book that lovingly challenges educators to understand what it means to be culturally proficient, but it also comprehensively provides a wealth of information regarding the history of English learners' (mis) education as well as past and current educational and language teaching practices. Without a doubt, this comprehensive text is a much needed addition to the professional development literature on English learner education!”

    Lilia I. Bartolome, Professor University of Massachusetts, Boston, MA

    “As an English learner myself, I was pleased that the authors clearly articulated through cultural proficiency the importance of valuing the whole student, seeing the student's language, culture, and community not as a barrier, but as an asset with which to build academic and social success. It is through understanding of self and others that we begin to see the true potential of our youth.”

    Michael James Isaac, Education Officer III Department of Education, Mi'kmaw Liason Office, Halifax, Nova Scotia

    “Through the unique use of dialogue and critical reflection, school district faculty and staff as well as university teacher educators will experience an exhilarating journey through various phases of cultural proficiency development that they need to inform their approach to curriculum, instruction, and assessment. More importantly, the book brings us an awareness that English learning students have a cultural capital that we must recognize, honor, and utilize as a powerful instructional resource!”

    Jose W. Lalas, Professor and Director of Center of Educational Justice, University of Redlands School Board Member, Corona-Norco Unified School District, Norco, CA

    “I find this book to be a rich and valuable resource for every education professional working in a diverse society. While it exposes the many complex cultural issues that are present in schools, especially in working with English learning students and their families, it proposes a meaningful and practical approach to achieving a viable level of cultural proficiency in education professionals. Bravo!”

    Anaida Colón-Muñiz, Associate Professor and Former President of the California Association for Bilingual Education, Chapman University College of Educational Studies, Orange, CA

    “Teachers, administrators, and counselors not yet familiar with notions of cultural proficiency should read this book cover to cover. This book is a ‘must-read’ guide for those working with English language learners. With these tools at our disposal, there should be no English learner ‘left behind.’”

    Lesley A. Harbon, Associate Professor University of Sydney, Australia

    “At a time when the achievement gap continues to widen for English learners, and as we approach the implementation of the Common Core Standards, it is urgent that we effectively prepare teachers to work with and advocate for this target community. This volume offers an engaging reflective-assessment process to critically analyze teachers' cultural and linguistic proficiency pertaining to transforming the education of English learners.”

    Cristina Alfaro, Associate Professor San Diego State University, San Diego, CA


    Dedico este libro a mi padre Jose Timoteo y a mi madre Belen que en paz descanse, quien por su guianza, su apoyo, sus consejos y su cariño yo soy quien soy;

    To my wife Cynthia for all of her support throughout our years of marriage.

    To my son Raymundo Reyes and my daughter Kristina Belen for having the will to continue their education and making us proud;

    To Sally and the late Rudy Cardenas for all of their love and support they have provided our family as loving grandparents.


    To my siblings Scotty, Twila, and Vicki for supporting my journey on a different path.


    To my sister Lee Smith for her loving support in our separate and together journeys.



    View Copyright Page


    Reyes L. Quezada, Delores B. Lindsey, and Randall B. Lindsey provide us with an invaluable text that insightfully combines theory and practice as they guide readers to artfully unmask commonsense knowledge regarding other cultural groups. What makes Culturally Proficient Practice: Supporting Educators of English Learning Students distinct is its central focus on language as part and parcel of culture and as the most important means in the construction of human subjective identity. In this sense, the authors depart from a vast literature on multicultural education that correctly stresses the need to valorize and appreciate cultural differences so long it is done through English. How often do we find multicultural courses taught in languages other than English? Hence, the underlying assumption that undergirds most multicultural books is that the celebration and valorization of other cultures will take place in English only, a language that may provide students from other linguistic and cultural backgrounds with the experience of subordination—a process through which they see their language, their culture, and “their past as one wasteland of non-achievement and it makes them want to distance themselves from that wasteland. It makes them want to identify with that which is furthest removed from themselves” (Thiong'o, 1994, p. 3). In other words, they often identify with the English language while rejecting their own, which has been astutely labeled as low status, ignorant, and even primitive. In fact, some multiculturalists, without saying so, assume that multicultural education can be effectively conducted through English only. Such an assumption neglects to appreciate how English, as a dominant language, even in a multicultural classroom, may continue to devalue students and speakers of other languages. One cannot celebrate different cultural values only through the very dominant language that devalues, in many ways, the cultural experiences of different cultural groups.

    As globalization holds a mirror to the 21st century multilingual and multicultural world, politicians and educators are zealously promulgating laws that not only further physically separate people but will cripple the multicultural imagination that could free us from the needed othering demarcation as a means to chest pump our fragile cultural identity. What could follow is a cultural identity predicated on the social construction of the inferiority of others, which, in turn, points invariably, to the existing dehumanization inherent in any form of xenophobia, ethnocentrism, and cultural racism. That is, the inability to connect with the humanity of others already means a humanity gap—a gap that conjures up what Ngũgĩ Na Thiong'o calls a cultural bomb designed to “annihilate a people's belief in their names, in their language, in their environment, in their heritage of struggle, in their unity, in their capacities and ultimately in themselves” (1994, p. 3).

    In a very direct and historical manner, the authors of Culturally Proficient Practice: Supporting Educators of English Learning Students contest the English only assumption by documenting successful educational experiences in languages other than English and by acutely pointing out a comment from a retired member of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police who observed that “[b]efore you of European descent arrived in what is now called North America, we were a multilingual, multicultural society.” Thus, multilingualism and multiculturalism should not be viewed as a newfound reality that schools and society should celebrate and promote. The inferred question in the Royal Mounted police's observation is, as well-meaning educators we should ask what happened to the vibrant multilingualism and multiculturalism in North America after the arrival of Europeans. That is, what needs to be addressed is how educators can help pay the cultural debt incurred by “[e]l Anglo con la cara de inocente [que] nos arrancó la lengua” (Anzandúa, 1987, p. 203), or “the Anglo with the innocent face [who] has yanked our tongue.” This debt should not be simply paid by the facile and unreflective resurrection of heritage language so uncritically embraced by most foreign language educators who seldom provide their students with critical tools to ask why their language became a heritage language in the first place—students who are led to believe that the newfound interest in heritage language is a gift to students who remain unable to make the linkages necessary for the understanding that the yanking of Native American and linguistic minority students' tongues is not only undemocratic but is also reminiscent of colonial policies—policies that, if left unproblematized, can easily reproduce colonial relations that are, in turn, presented as gifts that are for your own good. Students need to understand that although many of their heritage language teachers want to help them reacquire their “yanked tongues,” these same teachers protest little when states promulgate laws that impose English as the only language of instruction in schools. Students need to understand why multilingualism and multiculturalism are under constant assault by the Western cultural commissars, including teachers who unreflectively promote policies that coerce students to fall into historical amnesia by forgetting, for example, the English-language reeducation camps were designed primarily to yank Native Americans' tongues. Native American children were taken from their parents and sent to boarding schools whose primary purpose was to cut them off from their “primitive” languages and “savages” cultures. Although we ominously forget the dehumanization of American-Indian children in the so-called boarding schools, we nevertheless embrace a career as do-gooders who make a living from the very students whose ancestors language were yanked without ever creating conditions so that students understand the pain of Glória Anzaldúa's tongue being yanked.

    The brilliance of Culturally Proficient Practice: Supporting Educators of English Learning Students is the intelligent manner in which the authors invite us to pay a debt to the millions of students whose tongues are at risk of being yanked by closing teachers' cultural proficiency gaps through insightful cultural activities that provoke reflection and action—a process through which teachers will adopt a more humanistic pedagogy where they refuse to engage in practices that dehumanize while they effectively transform, through their democratic pedagogy the ugliness of human misery, social injustices, and inequalities. The authors challenge all educators to guide their students into a journey to their cultural sources and to reconnect with the wisdom of Emiliano Zapata, the courage of Cesar Chavez and Dolores Huerta, and the dreams of the Mexican poet, Mario Santiago, who, according to Roberto Bolaño, saw national borders as impediments to the expansion of our humanity and stated that “the only borders he respected were borders of dreams, the misty borders of love and indifference, the borders of courage and fear, the golden borders of ethics” (Macedo, 2012).

    DonaldoMacedo, University of Massachusetts, Boston


    We are mindful and are grateful for the many people who have contributed to the completion of this book, the patient support and sacrifices of family, the contributions of professional colleagues, and the inspiration of friends. Our words here are to honor their support for this work.

    For me, Reyes, it has been an exciting learning experience where I have developed professionally through the guidance and support I have received from Randy and Delores Lindsey. The many days we spent together having discussions, sharing meals and stories about our families makes it seem that we have known each other for years. It is because we share the same commitment, the same values for equity and social justice for students and families that made this book writing journey a pleasant one.

    For me, Delores, I want to thank my coauthors, Reyes and Randy, for the wonderful collaboration experience. We knew from the beginning we would make a good writing team. I also want to thank the teachers, administrators, and parents who are represented in the case stories for this book. These characters represent the dedicated educators and community members with whom we have worked over the past several years in school communities in Canada and the United States. This book is written for the many educators who support English learning students. Irrespective of your training and credentials, your value for linguistically and culturally diverse students is evident in your classrooms and schools.

    For me, Randy, it has been a wonderful experience to write with Reyes L. Quezada, who continues to impress me with his insights and guidance about and commitment to the challenges of responsible actions that lead to a just society. Since that first meeting at the University of Redlands, I have been looking forward to this project with Reyes and in our writing together, a friendship has expanded and deepened. To be able to write with Delores continues to be one of the joys of my life.

    Our colleagues at Corwin have been, as usual, extremely supportive. Dan Alpert, our acquisitions editor, continuously serve as “friend of the work of equity” and embodies the commitment to social justice we associate with Corwin. Appreciation goes to Megan Bedell, Associate Editor, and Sarah Bartlett, Senior Editorial Assistant, who continue their extremely high levels of support, responsiveness, and resourcefulness.

    Special thanks to our expert panel members who provided feedback for the English Learning Students Rubric:

    • Carmen E. Quintana, Educator and Board member, McGill School of Success, San Diego, California
    • Nilsa J. Thorsos, Ph.D., Professor & Chair, Department of Special Education, School of Education, Azusa Pacific University
    • Alberto M. Ochoa, Professor Emeritus, San Diego State University
    • Oscar Medina, Director-Language Acquisition and Academic Support, Sweetwater Union High School District, California
    • B. Gloria Guzman-Johnannessen, Professor, Curriculum and Instruction, College of Education, Texas State University, San Marcos
    • Juan Flores, Professor of Teacher Education, CSU Stanislaus
    • Linda Purrington, Academic Chair, M.S. in Administration, Pepperdine University
    • Stephanie Graham, Cultural Proficiency author
    • Raymond Terrell, Professor Emeritus, Miami University, Ohio, and Cultural Proficiency author
    • Brenda and Franklin CampbellJones, Cultural Proficiency authors
    • Sarina Molina, Assistant Professor, University of San Diego
    • Jannis Brandenburg, Distinguished Teacher In Residence, California State University, San Marcos
    • LuzElena Perez, Literacy Specialist, Escondido Union High School District, California
    Publisher's Acknowledgments

    Corwin gratefully acknowledges the contributions of the following reviewers:

    • Jacqueline Berman, Teacher, Lawrence Public Schools, Lawrence, MA
    • Karen Luttenberger, English as a Second Language Teacher and Program Coordinator, Berkshire Hills Regional School District, Great Barrington, MA
    • Rebekah Madera, ESL Teacher and ESL Professional Development Trainer, Easthampton Public Schools, Easthampton, MA
    • Gayle P. Malloy, Elementary ESL Teacher, Boston Public Schools, Boston, MA
    • Jodie Waldesbuhl, Curriculum Development Specialist and Teacher Trainer, TESOL, Boston, MA

    About the Authors

    Reyes L. Quezada, Ed.D., is a Professor at the University of San Diego, in the Department of Learning and Teaching in the School of Leadership and Education Sciences. He has been a teacher and teacher educator for the past 28 years, 18 of those years as a professor. He has served as professor of education at the University of Redlands and California State University Stanislaus. He holds Community College credentials in Counselor Education, Supervision, Psychology, and a California Multiple-Subjects Bilingual Emphasis Teaching credential—Spanish. His degrees include a B.A. from San Jose State University, an M.Ed. from the University of San Diego, an M.A. from San Diego State University, an Educational Specialist degree from Point Loma Nazarene College, and a doctorate from Northern Arizona University, Flagstaff, Arizona. He has presented at numerous international, national, and state conferences. His teaching and research focus on issues of equity, international education, and inclusion and diversity. His publications have been featured in the Multicultural Education journal, The Annual Editions of Multicultural Education, the Multilingual Educator of the California Association for Bilingual Education, The School Community Journal and The Journal of Experiential Education, The Journal of Instructional Psychology, Education, and he has contributed chapters on Character and Peace Education, Diversity, and Student Teaching. His current publications include a guest-edited book in 2012, two edited themed journals on internationalizing colleges and schools of education in the Catholic Education Journal (2011), Teaching Education Quarterly (2010), and a co-guest-edited Teacher Education Quarterly (2007).

    Dr. Quezada is on the governing board of the International Council for the Education of Teachers (ICET), Past President of the California Council for Teacher Education, the Vice President for the Association of Teacher Educators (ATE) and the American Association of Colleges for Teacher Education (AACTE) as the California Representative. He is a governing Board Member for the Catholic Education Journal, is an Advisory Editorial Board Member for the Annual Editions of Multicultural Education, and serves on the editorial board of Teacher Education Quarterly, Issues in Teacher Education. He is a reviewer for the educational journals the School Community Journal, the Journal of Hispanic Higher Education, Educational Research Journal, Teacher Education Quarterly, and Issues in Teacher Education. He is also on the California Commission on Teacher Credentialing Committee on Accreditation (COA), the San Bernardino Equal Opportunity Commission, and City of Redlands Housing Authority and previously on the Human Relations Commission.

    Delores B. Lindsey, Ph.D., is an Associate Professor of Educational Administration at California State University San Marcos. She has taught elementary to middle school and is a former school-site and county office administrator. As a professor, Adaptive Schools Associate, and a Cognitive Coaching trainer, she serves schools, districts, and county offices as facilitator and coach. Delores's favorite role is that of “Mimi” to her grandchildren. She enjoys helping each one collect memorable items that they find while traveling together, and then to write stories for the items in the collection.

    Randall B. Lindsey, Ph.D., is an Emeritus Professor, California State University, Los Angeles, and has a practice centered on educational consulting and issues related to equity and access. Prior to higher education faculty roles, Randy served as a junior and senior high school history teacher, a district office administrator for school desegregation, and executive director of a nonprofit corporation. All of Randy's experiences have been in working with diverse populations, and his area of study is the behavior of white people in multicultural settings. It is his belief and experience that too often, white people are observers of multicultural issues rather than personally involved with them. He works with colleagues to design and implement programs for and with schools, law enforcement agencies, and community-based organizations to provide access and achievement.

    Randy and his wife and frequent coauthor, Delores, are enjoying this phase of life as grandparents, as educators, and in support of just causes that extend the promises of democracy throughout society in authentic ways.


    This book is next in what has become an unintentional series of books. When Randall Lindsey, Kikanza Nuri-Robins, and Raymond Terrell wrote the Cultural Proficiency: A Manual for School Leaders in the late 1990s, they never intended to write more than that book. Upon publication of that first volume, they soon discovered that the concept of Cultural Proficiency resonated in more ways than they could have predicted. This book becomes the 11th since that inaugural volume, each dedicated to an application of the Tools of Cultural Proficiency.

    Why This Book Is Necessary

    To illustrate the need for this book, Reyes and Randy were colleagues at the University of Redlands when the first book was launched in 1999 and soon after began to discuss applications of Cultural Proficiency to their mutual areas of interest, English learning students, and school leadership development. During the decade that followed they met frequently to discuss projects on which they were working, often together. A couple of years ago in one of our frequent meetings Delores and Randy related to Reyes an experience they had when conducting a professional learning session with educators in the Ottawa-Carleton School District in Ontario, Canada. During the discussion phase of a cultural proficiency activity, a participant made a comment that left many observably awestruck. The participant, a retired member of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police and himself an equity trainer, took note of the many questions and comments from fellow participants about the need to learn effective strategies for teaching the English language to the many students who arrived to Canadian schools from around the world. The gentleman listened with interest, then stood and announced, Before you of European descent arrived in what is now called North America, we were a multi-lingual, multi-cultural society. It was interesting for the rest of us who were not of First Nations descent to grapple with that reality. Our collective ethnocentric perspective had limited our views to the current opportunities and challenges related to language acquisition that we face in our schools.

    That moment, along with many other experiences in working with fellow educators from across Canada and the United States, motivated our interest to write this book. Our Ottawa experience helped reinforce knowing that explicit or implicit values and behaviors that hold a value for cross-cultural communications are timeless throughout the world, and it is in our current day-to-day efforts as educators that we seek effective approaches to working with English learning students and their communities. With this volume we offer the Tools of Cultural Proficiency as a means to understand our personal and institutional barriers that impede English learning students as a means for embracing values and behaviors that ensure our students' success through our intentional acts.

    This book continues a format that has proven successful in our earlier books by engaging you, the reader, with information that provides the opportunity to add to your current knowledge, to reflect on the material in the chapters, to reflect on your practice as an educator, and opportunities to promote dialogue with colleagues. The consistent theme of each component of the book is to improve our professional practice in ways that promote the academic and social well-being of English learning students in our schools.

    Significant Terms: EL or ELL?

    One of the values explicit in this book is to mitigate the labeling of English learning students that too often accompanies the use of acronyms. We are well aware that EL means English learner and ELL signifies English language learner and those acronyms have evolved as shorthand in our daily communication as educators. However, it is our observation that what began as shorthand runs the risk of stigmatizing English learning students, with EL becoming an unintentional label, such as those EL students. To minimize and avoid labeling and to underscore the notion that Cultural Proficiency is an inside-out approach focused on we educators, we have elected to describe the students who are central to this book as English learning students. After all, there is much diversity among this important student population.

    However, it must be noted, in the vignettes that appear as the River View Story, you will see characters using the terms EL and ELL. This was done to promote authenticity for your reading.

    A Practical Guide for Your Use

    To ensure that today's educators—teachers, administrators, counselors, and paraprofessionals—are competently prepared to function in our diverse school communities, we designed rich, reflective, and dialogic resources to guide your continuous knowledge and skill development. Culturally Proficient Practice: Supporting Educators of English Learning Students is designed to contribute to these processes.

    This book was designed as a practical guide with strong theoretical framework for educators as they develop culturally proficient practices in providing classroom and schoolwide educational services for all children and youth. The book guides the reader to apply this Inside-Out approach to learning that is characteristic of the Cultural Proficiency framework. In addition, the reader is introduced to and guided through a series of reflective and dialogic exercises that build knowledge and skill for classroom teachers and the educators who support teachers as administrators, counselors, and paraprofessionals.

    The purpose of this book is to help guide you, an educator in today's complex environment, to examine you and your colleagues will and skills as resources for change. Cultural Proficiency is the lens you will use to examine the work you do and assess your cultural knowledge. You and your learning community are the energy force for transforming your current context into a culturally proficient teaching and learning environment. Throughout the book you are invited to examine your beliefs, values, and assumptions about English learning students and how those beliefs, values, and assumptions impact and influence your instructional practices and leadership decisions. Just to be clear about purpose, this book is not offered as a “quick fix” for English learning students. We do not believe English learning students need to be fixed. This book does not offer a series of instructional strategies to be used in English Development Programs. We believe many other books offer educators appropriate strategies and resources for addressing teachers' professional leaning for skill development. Therefore, we have listed some of those book titles in Resource F.

    How to Use This Book

    We organized this book in three parts to guide and support your journey toward being a member of a culturally proficient educational community that values the role of teachers in support of equitable access to educational experiences and outcomes:

    • Part I is composed of three chapters that provide you with a context for the historical and evolving place of English learning in Canadian and U.S. schools, a description of The Tools of Cultural Proficiency, and the presentation of a rubric for working with English learning students and their communities to support your assessment and planning, and the introduction of River View School District, the context for our case story.
    • Part II contains five chapters that guide you through processes of reflection and dialogue to support your learning and apply the lens of cultural proficiency for individual educator reflection on practice and for teams of educators dialogue on institutional policies and practice through the case story of River View.
    • Part III is a single chapter devoted to supporting you and your colleagues developing personal and school action plans addressing English learning opportunities and challenges in your school. Resources for professional development that align with each of the Essential Elements are provided in the final section of the book.
  • Resource A: Professional Learning Activity—Assessing Cultural Knowledge

    Purpose: To identify and collect examples of the points on the Cultural Proficiency Continuum to support assessing our cultural knowledge

    Time needed: 30–45 minutes

    Materials needed: Chart paper, marking pens, masking tape, and self-sticking notes

    Getting started:

    Facilitator: Let's look at the Cultural Proficiency Continuum presented in Chapter 2 to see what meaning it has in our school and our district. We are going to assess our cultural knowledge by collecting some examples of the points on the Cultural Proficiency Continuum. Pay particular attention to how we talk about our students and families who are culturally and linguistically different.


    • Label six pieces of chart paper with the six points on the continuum. Put one point at the top of each chart. Hang the chart paper on the wall.
    • Distribute a marker and about ten 4” × 6” self-sticking notes to each participant.
    • Ask the groups to generate examples for the points along the continuum. Think about negative and positive comments about students that you have heard from other educators. Write one comment on each of your self-sticking notes.
    • After people have written comments on their self-sticking notes, invite them to place them on the appropriate chart.
    • As you, the facilitator, read the comments, you may need to move some of the self-sticking notes to more appropriate charts. Participants tend to place their comments higher on the continuum than they deserve to be.
    • Encourage participants to mill around, reading all of the comments.


    • What were some things you noticed about yourself as you wrote your comments?
    • What did you notice about yourself and others as you read the other comments?
    • What did you feel, think, or wonder about the comments or the process?
    • What does this process and conversation help you realize about English learning students at your school or district?

    Variation: Focus the discussion on classroom behavior instead of on district or school behavior.

    Source: Adapted from Randall B. Lindsey, Kikanza Nuri-Robins, & Raymond D. Terrell. (2009). Cultural Proficiency: A Manual for School Leaders (3rd ed.) Thousand Oaks, CA: Corwin. pp. 275–276.

    Resource B: Professional Learning Activity—Valuing Diversity

    Purpose: To assist educators in identifying values held for students, their families, their languages, and their communities

    Time needed: 30–60 minutes

    Materials needed: Paper and pen for each participant

    Getting started:

    Facilitator: Think about lessons you learned in your family of origin. What were the values on which those lessons were based? Identify and write on a piece of paper three values that you learned at home, which you bring to the school as your workplace.


    • Organize the participants into groups of 3–5 people.
    • Model for the group three values you learned from your family of origin. These can be positive or negative things that you learned.
    • Each person in the groups will have a turn sharing their family values.
    • Clarify for the participants that they do not need to agree with all of the values shared. Encourage them to go beyond a word like education to the value about the word education is a privilege.
    • After the participants have shared the values and the stories that explain them in their small groups, ask them to discuss how these values influence their behavior and expectations of others at work.
    • Ask them to chart the values discussed in their groups. Hang the charts around the room


    • Each group highlights the values they discussed.
    • Discuss the apparent similarity of the values despite cultural, generational, or other differences.
    • Point out the obvious and then the subtle differences in values.
    • Identify how values that, in isolation, may be perceived as positive, and might clash and cause conflicts with the values of other people. For example: get an education, and education is a privilege. Both are positive values but will result in different expectations and attitudes about learning in the workplace.
    • Discuss how families of origin influence behaviors and languages spoken at school.
    • Discuss how family cultures and languages influence the culture and languages of the community.
    • Point out the need for a strong, clearly articulated core culture at the church. Discuss what happens when there is no strong school or work culture focused on valuing all cultural groups.
    Source: Adapted from Randall B. Lindsey, Kikanza Nuri-Robins, & Raymond D. Terrell. (2009). Cultural Proficiency: A Manual for School Leaders, Thousand Oaks, CA: Corwin. pp. 258–261.

    Resource C: Professional Learning Activity—Managing the Dynamics of Difference

    Purpose: To reinforce the Essential Elements of Cultural Competence and to understand managing the dynamics of linguistically and culturally diverse communities, their students, their families, and the school personnel.

    Time needed: 40–50 minutes

    Materials needed: Response Sheet C1: Essential Elements

    Getting started:

    Facilitator: Now that you have been introduced to the Essential Elements, let's see what culturally proficient educational practices would look like at this school and in this community.


    • Introduce or review the Essential Elements of Cultural Proficiency on Response Sheet C1.
    • Divide the participants into groups of 3–5 people.
    • Assign each group one element to work on.
    • Ask each group to describe the behaviors of an individual or the practices of the school by completing one row of Response Sheet C1. Encourage groups to be as specific as possible, especially about newcomers and English learning students and their families.
    • After each group has finished, ask a spokesperson to share responses with the entire group and have the other participants add to the list of behaviors and practices.
    • In what ways do your descriptions focus on English language learning students?


    • In what ways did you describe how each element would look like in our school?
    • How did you describe individual behavior and organizational practices?
    • Did you notice whether people set standards for others or for themselves?
    • Everyone spends time with the Element: Managing the Dynamics of Difference: In what ways does this Element inform your educational practices for English learning students?


    • Focus on a work group, a department, or a classroom.
    • Save the lists for use during schoolwide planning.
    • As you increase your understanding of the elements, add to the lists.
    Response Sheet C1
    Essential ElementCurrent PracticesProposed Practices
    Assessing Culture
    • Naming the Differences
    Guiding Questions:
    • What are the unwritten rules in your school?
    • How do you describe your own culture?
    • How does your school provide for a variety of
    • learning styles? How does your school identify English learning students?
    Valuing Diversity
    • Claiming the Differences
    • Guiding Questions:
    • How would you describe the diversity in your current professional setting?
    • How do you react to the term valuing diversity?
    • How do you and your colleagues frame conversations about English learning students?
    Managing the Dynamics of Difference
    • Reframing the Differences
    Guiding Questions:
    • How do you handle conflict in the classrooms based on language differences?
    • What skills do you possess to handle conflict?
    • Describe situations of cross-cultural conflict that may be based on historic distrust.
    Adapting to Diversity
    • Changing for the Differences
    Guiding Questions:
    • How do you adapt to newcomers?
    • How does your school adapt to the needs of new members?
    • Describe examples of inclusive language and of inclusive materials.
    • How does your school teach about the organization's need to adapt to cultures and languages?
    Institutionalizing Cultural Knowledge
    • Training About Differences
    Guiding Questions:
    • What do you currently know about the cultural groups in your school and in your community?
    • What more would you like to know about those cultures?
    • How do you and your colleagues learn about these cultural groups?
    Source: Adapted from Randall B. Lindsey, Kikanza Nuri-Robins, and Raymond D. Terrell. (2009). Cultural Proficiency: A Manual for School Leaders, Thousand Oaks, CA: Corwin. pp. 287–290.

    Resource D: Professional Learning Activity—Adapting to Diversity


    To guide use of the Guiding Principles of Cultural Proficiency in adapting to the educational needs of linguistically and culturally diverse student populations.

    To identify ways in which the Guiding Principles of Cultural Proficiency can be translated into school practices.

    Time needed: 60 minutes

    Materials needed: Response Sheet D1: Guiding Principles

    Getting started:

    Facilitator: Let's look at the Guiding Principles of Cultural Proficiency to make sure we know what they mean in relationship to how we adapt to diversity here at our school.


    • Distribute Response Sheet D1: Guiding Principles. Divide the group into small groups of 5 or 6 participants, assigning one principle to each group.
    • Ask the small groups to discuss the Guiding Principle in relation to their school community. Also, consider how the principle relates to your classroom if you are a teacher. What does it mean? How does it relate to our school and community? How does it relate to my work? How does it relate to what we are trying to do as a professional community? What examples might we cite to illustrate this principle?
    • Reconvene the large group. The Facilitator will ask each group to share their responses, encouraging critical reflection and review.



    • What happened in your small groups? How easy or difficult was it to respond to the questions?
    • How do you feel about your responses?
    • What are the implications for our English learning students and their families?
    • How will you use this information?
    Response Sheet D1: The Guiding Principles of Cultural Proficiency
    Culture Is a Predominant Force

    Acknowledge culture as a predominant force in shaping behaviors, values, and institutions. Although you may be inclined to take offense at the behaviors that differ from yours, remind yourself that it may not be personal; it may be cultural.

    People Are Served in Varying Degrees by the Dominant Culture

    What works well in organizations and in the community for you and others who are like you may work against members of other cultural groups. Failure to make such an acknowledgment puts the burden for change on one group.

    The Group Identity of Individuals Is as Important as Their Individual Identities

    Although it is important to treat all people as individuals, it is also important to acknowledge the group identity of individuals. Actions must be taken with the awareness that the dignity of a person is not guaranteed unless the dignity of his or her people is also preserved.

    Diversity within Cultures Is Vast and Significant

    Since diversity within cultures is as important as diversity between cultures, it is important to learn about cultural groups not as monoliths, for example Asians, Hispanics, gay men, and women, but as the complex and diverse groups that they are. Often, because of the class differences in the United States, there will be more in common across cultural lines than within them.

    Each Group Has Unique Cultural Needs

    Each cultural group has unique needs that cannot be met within the boundaries of the dominant culture. Expressions of one group's cultural identity do not imply disrespect for yours. Make room in your organization for several paths that lead to the same goal.

    Principle: The Family, as Defined by Each Culture, Is the Primary System of Support in the Education of Children.

    The traditional relationship between home and school is to place most of the responsibility for involvement directly with parents. Although that holds as true for most cultural groups, Cultural Proficiency Provides a different frame by which teachers, parents, and education leaders assume greater responsibility for finding authentic ways to engage in culturally proficient practices to support student achievement.

    Principle: People Who Are Not a Part of the Dominant Culture Have to Be at Least Bicultural.

    Parents have to be fluent in the communication patterns of the school as well as the communication patterns that exist in their communities. They also have to know the cultural norms and expectations of schools that may conflict or be different from those in their communities, their countries of origin or their cultural groups. In ideal conditions, their children are developing bicultural skills, learning to code switch appropriately as the cultural expectations of their environments change, yet parents may not have these skills. They are then penalized because they do not respond, as expected, to the norms set by educators, nor do they negotiate well the educational systems of the public schools.

    Principle: Inherent in Cross-Cultural Interactions Are Social and Communication Dynamics That Must Be Acknowledged, Adjusted to, and Accepted.

    People who belong to groups that have histories of systemic oppression have heightened sensitivities to the societal privileges they do not receive, and to the many unacknowledged slights and put downs that they receive daily. These microaggressions are usually unnoticed by dominant group members and when brought to their attention, are often dismissed as inconsequential.

    Principle: The School System Must Incorporate Cultural Knowledge into Practice and Policymaking

    Culturally proficient educators are self-consciously aware of their own cultures and the culture of their schools. This is crucial knowledge, because in addition to the cognitive curriculum, the cultural norms and expectations of the school must be taught as well. First, culturally proficient educators must assess and raise consciousness about their own individual and organizational cultures. Then, as they teach the cultural expectations of the school and classroom to all students and their families, educators must learn about the cultures of their students.

    Source: Adapted from Randall B. Lindsey, Kikanza Nuri-Robins, & Raymond D. Terrell. (2009). Cultural Proficiency: A Manual for School Leaders, Thousand Oaks, CA: Corwin. pp. 258–261.

    Resource E: Professional Learning Activity—Institutionalizing Cultural Knowledge

    Purpose: This book is designed for use in a number of ways.

    • It is a text for professional development that may take place in a university seminar room or with teachers at a school.
    • It can be used with a small group of colleagues as a book study.
    • It can be used with a large or small group as a workbook.

    Each chapter has activities integrated within the text and suggestions for continuing reflection and dialogue.

    Time needed: Varies from 90–190 minutes.

    Materials needed: Each participant has a copy of the book and a journal, or other writing mechanism, for reflective writing.

    Getting started:

    This book is for people who teach and those who support teachers, such as administrators, counselors, and paraprofessionals. Whatever your educator context or your title, when presenting subject matter to your students, three factors crucially affect your instruction: (1) your understanding of who you are and what you think about yourself, (2) your understanding of who the English learning students are and what you think about them, and (3) the way in which students receive you and the subject matter you are presenting.

    Process: This format is designed to support group members as they are reading chapters of the book as assigned reading and coming together for dialogue about the reading. You might use, or customize, this format for your group. The approximate time for this format is 90–190 minutes. If something significant or controversial arises, modify the agenda to accommodate the time necessary to process the issues.

    10 minutesCheck-in. Allow participants to make necessary introductions and share a bit about their lives. For example you might ask each person to briefly share the highs and lows of their day, or over the time that has passed since you last met. “Highs and Lows” allows you to acknowledge that life happens, gives you an insight into what is important in the lives of your colleagues, and helps people focus on the work at hand.
    5 minutesLogistics. Reaffirm the starting and ending time and locations of future sessions. Make any necessary announcements. If you know that a group member is not going to be present, briefly share with the other members. This reduces speculation and reinforces that absent members are missed.
    2 minutesLearning Goals. Prepare the designated leader in advance to indicate two or three outcomes that is desired for the work of the group.
    3 minutesSummarize the assigned reading. The designated leader will briefly give key points of the assigned reading.
    10–25 minutesDialogue. Engage in dialogue about ideas or questions that surfaced for group members as they read. Encourage each member to keep a journal while reading the book to record his or her thoughts, feelings and questions. The dialogue will deepen the learning of group members. Be mindful of the power of silence, think time, and inclusion of all voices and different perspectives.
    30–90 minutesContinue the conversation. Conduct one or two of the activities embedded in the assigned reading. Allow adequate time to facilitate the learning experience and then to discuss it at length. Remember that the goal is not to complete an activity, but to learn something from an experience. The deepest learning will occur during the reflection upon the experience.
    5 minutesAssignment. Have the designated leader for the next session to indicate the section of the book to be read next and any activities that should be completed.
    5 minutesReturn to the learning goals to summarize the session and to assess whether they have been met.
    5 minutesCheck-out. Ask each member of the group to share what they are taking away from the session. This could be a thought, a question, knowledge that was affirmed, or a commitment to action.


    These questions can be used as reflective questions by participants or as a means for extending personal reflection or to promote dialogue among group members:

    • Are you aware of educational policies, practices, and procedures that demean individual English learning students?
    • Do you have colleagues who either knowingly or unintentionally engage in practices that demean English learning students?
    • Do you ever call these practices into question?
    • Are you willing to confront either systems or individuals that dishonor your craft as an educator?
    • Would you like to engage with colleagues in a process that will increase your awareness of diversity issues that impact English learning students and your skills in addressing them?

    The intention of this format is to build a learning community. This is an opportunity for colleagues to learn about themselves and one another in a supportive environment. Support does not necessarily mean agreement, but rather it means respect for a shared desire to learn, grow, and become a better educator. A learning community respects the need for and protects the confidentiality of the group. Members seek to understand one another rather than jumping to judgment. At the same time, group members will directly and gently correct, redirect or inform one another as they work through misunderstandings, misinformation, and misinterpretation of the reading and the discussions.

    Although each session will have a designated leader or facilitator, all members of the group are colearners throughout for process. When selecting the members of your group, seek colleagues who will commit to both the process and the values that underlie them. A goal for reading together about culturally proficient instruction is to engage with one another in a culturally proficient manner.

    Source: Adapted from Kikanza Nuri-Robins, Delores B. Lindsey, Randall B. Lindsey, and Raymond D. Terrell. (2012). Culturally Proficient Instruction: A Guide for People Who Teach (3rd ed.). Thousand Oaks, CA: Corwin, pp. xxiv–xxv.

    Resource F: Recommended Books on Instructional Strategies

    Calderon, Margarita. (2007). Teaching reading to English language learners, grades 6–12: A framework for improving achievement in content areas. Thousand Oaks, CA: Corwin.
    Calderon, Margarita, & Minaya-Rowe, Liliana. (2003). Designing and implementing two-way bilingual programs: A step-by-step guide for administrators, teachers, and parents. Thousand Oaks, CA: Corwin.
    Calderon, Margarita Espino, & Minaya-Rowe, Liliana. (2011). Preventing long-term ELs: Transforming schools to meet core standards. Thousand Oaks, CA: Corwin.
    California Department of Education. (2010). Improving education for English language learners: Research-Based Approaches. Sacramento, CA: Author.
    Goldenberg, Claude, & Coleman, Rhoda. (2010). Promoting academic achievement among English learners: A guide to the research. Thousand Oaks, CA: Corwin.
    Honigsfeld, Andrea, & Dove, Maria G. (2010). Collaboration and co-teaching: Strategies for English learners. Thousand Oaks, CA: Corwin.
    Soto-Hinman, Ivannia, & Hetzel, June. (2009). The literacy gaps: Bridge-building strategies for English language learners and standard English learners. Thousand Oaks, CA: Corwin.
    Zacarian, Debbie. (2011). Transforming schools for English learners: A comprehensive framework for school leaders. Thousand Oaks, CA: Corwin.

    Matrix: How to Use Cultural Proficiency Books

    Cultural Proficiency: A Manual for School Leaders, 3rd Ed., 2009
    • Randall B. Lindsey
    • Kikanza
    • Nuri-Robins
    • Raymond D. Terrell
    This book is an introduction to cultural proficiency. There is extended discussion of each of the tools and the historical framework for diversity work.
    Culturally Proficient Instruction: A Guide for People Who Teach, 3rd Ed., 2012
    • Kikanza
    • Nuri-Robins
    • Randall B. Lindsey
    • Delores B. Lindsey
    • Raymond D. Terrell
    This book focuses on the five essential elements and can be directed to anyone in an instructional role. This book can be used as a workbook for a study group.
    The Culturally Proficient School:An Implementation Guide for School Leaders, 2005
    • Randall B. Lindsey
    • Laraine M. Roberts
    • Franklin
    • CampbellJones
    This book guides the reader to examine their school as a cultural organization and to design and implement approaches to dialogue and inquiry.
    Culturally Proficient Coaching:Supporting Educators to Create Equitable Schools, 2007
    • Delores B. Lindsey
    • Richard S.
    • Martinez
    • Randall B. Lindsey
    This book aligns the essential elements with Costa and Garmston's Cognitive Coaching model. The book provides coaches, teachers, and administrators a personal guidebook with protocols and maps for conducting conversations that shift thinking in support of all students achieving at levels higher than ever before.
    Culturally Proficient Inquiry:A Lens for Identifying and Examining Educational Gaps, 2008
    • Randall B. Lindsey
    • Stephanie M. Graham
    • R. Chris Westphal, Jr.
    • Cynthia L. Jew
    This book uses protocols for gathering and analyzing student achievement and access data as well as rubrics for gathering and analyzing data about educator practices. A CD accompanies the book for easy downloading and use of the data protocols.
    Culturally Proficient Leadership: The Personal Journey Begins Within, 2009
    • Raymond D. Terrell
    • Randall B. Lindsey
    This book guides the reader through the development of a cultural autobiography as a means to becoming an increasingly effective leader in our diverse society. The book is an effective tool for use by leadership teams.
    Culturally Proficient LearningCommunities: Confronting Inequity through Collaborative Curiosity, 2009
    • Delores B. Lindsey
    • Linda D. Jungwirth
    • Jarvis V.N.C. Pahl
    • Randall B. Lindsey
    This book provides readers a lens through which to examine the purpose, the intentions, and the progress of learning communities to which they belong, or wish to develop. School and district leaders are provided protocols, activities, and rubrics to engage in actions focused on the intersection of race, ethnicity, gender, social-class, sexual orientation and identity, faith, and ableness with the disparities in student achievement.
    The CulturalProficiency Journey: Moving Beyond Ethical Barriers toward Profound School Change, 2010
    • Franklin CampbellJones
    • Brenda CampbellJones
    • Randall B. Lindsey
    This book explores cultural proficiency as an ethical construct. It makes transparent the connection between values, assumptions, and beliefs, and observable behavior making change possible and sustainable. The book is appropriate for book study teams.
    Culturally Proficient Education:An Assets-based Response to Conditions of Poverty, 2010
    • Randall B. Lindsey
    • Michelle S. Karns
    • Keith Myatt
    This book is designed for educators to learn how to identify and develop the strengths of students from low-income backgrounds. It is an effective learning community resource to promote reflection and dialogue.
    Culturally Proficient Collaboration: Use and Misuse of School Counselors, 2011
    • Diana L. Stephens
    • Randall B. Lindsey
    This book uses the lens of Cultural Proficiency to frame the American Association of School Counselor's performance standards and Education Trust's Transforming School Counseling Initiative as means for addressing issues of access and equity in schools in collaborative school leadership teams.
    A Culturally Proficient Society Begins in School: Leadership for Equity, 2011
    • Carmella S. Franco
    • Maria G. Ott
    • Darline P. Robles
    This book frames the life stories of three superintendents through the lens of Cultural Proficiency. The reader is provided the opportunity to design or modify his or her own leadership for equity plan.
    The Best of Corwin: Equity, 2012Randall B. LindseyThis reader provides a range of perspectives of published chapters from prominent authors on topics of equity, access, and diversity. It is designed for use by school study groups.
    Culturally Proficient Practice: Supporting Educators of English Learning Students, 2012
    • Reyes L. Quezada
    • Delores B. Lindsey
    • Randall B. Lindsey
    This book guides readers to apply the 5 Essential Elements of Cultural Competence and action research approaches to their individual practice and their school's approaches to equity. The book works well for school study groups.


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    CORWIN: A SAGE Company

    The Corwin logo—a raven striding across an open book—represents the union of courage and learning. Corwin is committed to improving education for all learners by publishing books and other professional development resources for those serving the field of PreK–12 education. By providing practical, hands-on materials, Corwin continues to carry out the promise of its motto: “Helping Educators Do Their Work Better.”

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