It is not always easy for students of varying cultural groups to adjust or adapt to the drastically different environment, atmosphere, and behaviors that are present at their school. This can be labeled as cultural mismatch, in which students “may find school an unsettling place in which they don’t know what to expect from others or what behaviors other people expect of them” (Omrod et al., 2019, pp.110). Unfortunately, cultural mismatch can lead to an interference with students’ learning and academic performance. Some students may experience an identity crisis, in which they struggle to recognize who they are culturally as they navigate between more than one culture in their life. They may also feel alienated from one or more groups because they feel as if they do not fully belong to one particular group. It is critical that educators are aware of cultural differences and how even school environments/culture can negatively and positively impact students from other cultural groups. In that way, educators can understand and accommodate the needs of all students.
Padilla provides a Mexican American student’s account on living between more than one culture in school and at home. The student felt quite confused and torn between what he/she identified as culturally because of the conflicting cultures at home and at school. “I felt really different because everyone was American, including me. Then I would go home in the afternoon and be Mexican again” (as cited in Ormord, 2013, p. 111). This example demonstrates how students of varying cultural backgrounds might struggle to adjust between two completely contrasting environments on a daily basis. It is crucial for educators to understand these struggles and not undermine their experiences in the classroom.