Cultural Competence



“The National Education Association defines cultural competence in the following manner: Cultural competence is having an awareness of one’s own cultural identity and views about difference, and the ability to learn and build on the varying cultural and community norms of students and their families. It is the ability to understand the within-group differences that make each student unique, while celebrating the between-group variations that make our country a tapestry. This understanding informs and expands teaching practices in the culturally competent educator’s classroom. (National Education Association, 2018)” (Ormrod et al., 2019, p. 111). Some of the cultural differences culturally competent teachers should understand and incorporate into their lessons include language and dialect, talkativeness and verbal assertiveness, eye contact, personal space, and responding to questions (Omrod et al., 2019, pp. 111-113). Other cultural differences include public versus private performance, views about teasing, cooperation versus competition, family relationships and expectations, concepts of time, and world view (Omrod et al., 2019, pp. 114-116). These cultural differences are a big part of many students’ identities, so it’s imperative that teachers are working to be culturally competent and their students can see their identities reflected in their classroom.

One piece of research on cultural competence is the article, “Culturally Relevant Pedagogy in a Diverse Urban Classroom”. The study “stresses the importance of teachers developing cultural competence to maximize learning opportunities in the classroom” (Milner, 2011). The study focuses on the following three things that the teacher does to try to develop his cultural competence. First, “Mr. Hall was able to build and sustain meaningful and authentic relationships with his students, which allowed him to build cultural competence in the classroom because the solid relationships allowed him to learn from/with his students” (Milner, 2011). Secondly, “Mr. Hall recognized the multiple layers of identity among his students and confronted matters of race with them. These interactions helped him build cultural competence” (Milner, 2011). Finally, “Mr. Hall perceived teaching as a communal affair; he worked to create a culture of collaboration with colleagues and considered all students in the context his responsibility—not only those in his classroom. Mr. Hall was not only learning from students in his classroom, he was learning from those outside of his classroom; he was learning from his colleagues, which also seemed important in his building cultural competence” (Milner, 2011).