I’m thrilled to introduce you to Razan Abdin-Adnani, the newest guest writer on the Bee Line blog! Razan composed a gorgeous three part series for the blog on building inclusive school environments. This is the second installment. See the first installment HERE and the second installment HERE.
Be sure to read to the end to learn more about the FREE WEBINAR Razan and RB are hosting on Thursday March 1st. We’ll be discussing the blog series and opening it up to questions from the live attendees. It’s going to be fun!
“Building Culturally Responsive Schools:
Tools for Supporting Diverse Parent Populations”
Research shows that when strong home, school, and community partnerships are established, students, families, and educators all benefit greatly. As our schools become increasingly more diverse, it is imperative that we identify potential barriers that may hinder familial connections. By adopting culturally responsive practices, we can implement effective strategies that will build authentic relationships and establish a sense of community with the diverse populations we serve.
Where to begin?
- Conduct some preliminary research about the countries and regions that your children and families come from. Where are they located? What language(s) do they speak? Which religions are represented? Is there a pertinent political situation there that you should know about?
- Familiarize yourselves with the deeper aspects of culture. Beyond food and music, how can culture affect concepts of time, courtesy, eye contact, physical space, values, power distance, expectations, etc.?
- The aforementioned advice is merely a starting point to achieve the most basic level of cultural competence. We have to do more.
Now, forget what you just learned…
Wait, what? Okay, so maybe don’t scrap all of it. While it is essential to learn about our students’ and families’ cultures, we must also recognize that no group is entirely monolithic. If you want to know how to respect a family that is in front of you—if you want to know about their values, expectations, communication preferences, etc., then you have to ask them! Try not to make assumptions. We don’t want to reduce any group down to oversimplified stereotypes.
Also, acknowledge that many families may face structural, attitudinal, and cultural barriers to school engagement. A lack of engagement usually results from one of these barriers and does not imply A) a deficiency within a group or B) that they don’t care as much about their children’s education.
- One really effective way of getting to know your families is by implementing a home visit program for each incoming family (that is, if all staff is on board). The visit should be conversational and not feel like an evaluation. Ask what their hopes and dreams for their children are and what their expectations are for school. Let them ask you any questions they may have. Create a partnership. The more we know about a family, the less likely we are to inappropriately cross cultural boundaries.
- At the very least, be sure that each parent resource/communication is available in any language that is spoken by the families at your school.
- Build Parent Leadership through education, support, and empowerment. See the potential for leadership in every parent regardless of language, level of educational attainment, SES, etc.
- Ask, listen, and hear what these families say. Incorporate their voices into policy, programs, and services.
- Hire staff members who reflect the communities and families that your school serves. This is essential.
- As always, we adults must constantly confront our own biases that might affect our ideas, interactions, and practices.
So, what is the first step you will take to create a more culturally responsive community for the families you serve?
Would you like to explore this topic more? Join us for a webinar on Thursday, March 1st to engage in a juicy discussion on what “culturally responsive” means and how we apply that meaning in our schools. Scroll to the bottom for full details!
B i o
Razan Abdin-Adnani is an Early Childhood + Equity and Diversity Consultant and Coach. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in International Studies, a Master of Education with an emphasis in Montessori Studies, an AMI diploma at the Primary level and is a DONA-trained Postpartum Doula. In her spare time, she enjoys traveling, reading, dining out, live music, being outdoors, cooking, and learning more about educational equity.
W e b s i t e
S o c i a l M e d i a
H i r e
Razan offers workshops, webinars, consultations, coaching, and curriculum development services to schools, colleges and universities, families, and community organizations.
Her services are available worldwide via video chat. She is also available for travel. You can contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org to discuss the needs of your community!
Inclusive Leadership Webinar
Join RB Fast and Razan Abdin-Adnani for a free webinar all about building inclusive school culture.
- Thursday, March 1st
- 4:00 pm ET/ 2:00 pm MT
- 48 seats available for live event
- Live Q & A
Webinar will be recorded for those who register but cannot attend live.