Culturally Relevant Leadership

 In Leadership

“Pay me in equity and watch me reverse out of debt.” Although different context, I think Queen Bey was on to something here. There is no doubt that when it comes to education, equity is the road to success. However, that road hasn’t always been smooth for black students who suffer far more than any other race academically, largely in part to the lack of connection between education and African American identity. No matter the background, the culture from your student’s home will inevitably make its way into the classroom.

Culture is pivotal to learning. That’s why it’s important for educators and administrators to understand that the way students process information is a reflection of their culture. When teachers are confident in handling cultural biases, they can create a safer and more inclusive space for their learners.

Culturally relevant leaders develop a critical consciousness that challenges inequities. Teachers who say, “I don’t see color,” are further ignoring the ways racial disparities exist in our school system. Instead of pretending it’s not happening, let’s start by embracing and understanding the experiences of black people.

Previously, we discussed the importance of reflective leadership and how it contributes to academic achievement. In order to be effective and really enact change, you have to challenge the status quo. Part of that challenge comes from going against what society expects.

It’s time to integrate cultures, backgrounds, and experiences into the classroom. When teachers welcome different perspectives, they help raise the level of consciousness concerning equity in schools. This kind of leadership has become essential to reform and social justice in education. We can empower students from diverse backgrounds by creating organizational structures at the school and district level that identify with the cultural nature of black and brown students, and their families.

Culturally relevant leadership includes:

  • Cultural intelligenceIn order to effectively bridge cultural differences, educators must consider the needs and core values of their students. Self-reflection and the willingness to challenge one’s own cultural assumptions is also key.
  • Cultural competency— This is effective when engaging students from cultures other than your own by valuing diversity, understanding cultural cues and views, and recognizing the norms of black students and their families.
  • Cross-cultural networking— Collaborating with people of various backgrounds to work together toward common goals. Integrating other cultures in the classroom is essential to learning in a diverse society.

The growing multiculturalism in America has imposed different leadership styles for educators when working and engaging with students of diverse backgrounds. If the curriculum does not respond to the culture, the culture will not respond to the curriculum.

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