Continuing on the Road to Cultural Competence

According to Sue & Sue (2003) cultural competence is “active, developmental, an ongoing process and is aspirational rather than achieved” (p.1). Growing as an individual and as a teacher is a journey that takes time as well as patience. Significant transformation is preceded by many small, degrees of change and becoming increasingly more culturally competent requires sensitive awareness, personal reflection, understanding and willingness to adjust one’s attitudes, words and behaviors in order to prevent marginalization and promote the success and happiness of all students regardless of age, race, religion, culture, gender, sexual preference or socio-economic status. When it comes to culturally competent instruction in the classroom, the ASCD Improving Student Achievement Research Panel (1995) provides a strategy list that, as a future high school English teacher, I am going to refer to regularly to ensure that my classroom is a safe and positive space for the growth and development of each of my students:


Strategy 1: Maintain high standards and expectation

Strategy 2: Incorporate the home culture

Strategy 3: Encourage active participation of parents or guardians

Strategy 4: Capitalize on Students’ Backgrounds

Strategy 5: Use culturally relevant curriculum materials

Strategy 6: Identify and dispel stereotypes

Strategy 7: Create culturally compatible learning environments

Strategy 8: Use cooperative learning

Strategy 9: Capitalize on students’ culture, language, and experiences

Strategy 10: Respect community language norms

Strategy 11: Use thematic, interdisciplinary teaching


In reflection, after completing the cultural competence self-assessment adapted from Sue & Sue (2003) one of the areas that will require development is “Knowledge.” In order to be a culturally competent professional, I need to “have a good understanding of the socio-political system’s operating in the U.S. with respect to treatment of marginalized groups in our society” (Sue & Sue, p.3). Also, I will need to have “knowledge of institutional barriers that prevent diverse groups from using services” (Sue and Sue, p. 3). To develop these areas of competency I will pursue students and parents and ask them to share about their own experiences, but beyond that, I will need to do outside research about the past and present experiences of different groups in order to understand where my students may be coming from and how I can best meet their needs. I will need to be more intentional about knowing what is happening presently both in the community and nationally in order to develop my knowledge-based competence and lay the foundation for advocacy.

Since I am not currently teaching, I took this self-assessment with my past working experience in mind, as well as my day-to-day encounters with others, so I am looking forward to getting into the classroom full-time, and being able to employ the awareness, skills and strategies I have acquired. Taking this self-assessment on a monthly or bi-monthly basis will be an effective way of measuring where I am being effective and in what areas I may be lacking in awareness, knowledge, skills or advocacy (Sue & Sue, 2003). This type of personal accountability and professional reflection will make sure that I continue toward my goals in pursuing cultural competency.



Adaptation of “Strategies for Culturally Competent Instruction” from:

ASCD Improving Student Achievement Research Panel. (1995). R. Cole (Ed.), Educating everybody’s children: Diverse teaching strategies for diverse learners.


Adaptation of “What Is Cultural Competence?” (, 2009) from:

Sue, D., & Sue, D. (2003). Counseling the culturally diverse: Theory and practice. (4th ed.). New York, NY: John Wiley.

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