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Learning from your students, their families and their communities

Students: You can learn a lot about the practices, values and traditions of different ethnic and social groups from observing and talking with your students. One way to become knowledgeable about your students’ social and ethnic identities is through inventories and questionnaires. Another way is through reflecting on what you know and what you need to know about your students’ backgrounds and current lives to help you be respectful and inclusive of both. Consider these tools:

Learning about culture from and with your students

Becoming knowledgeable about cultural differences among your students

Families: Open up lines of communication with parents on a regular basis. If you do not speak your students’ home language(s), ask a colleague who does to help you make the first contact with parents. Inviting families to provide information and insight is essential to keeping these lines of communication open and to being respectful of your students and their families.

Visiting families in their homes can also provide rich insight into cultural practices and into the funds of knowledge that students have available to them in their homes and communities.

Communities: Contact and visit leaders of organizations and businesses in the community. These kinds of contacts can help you to develop connections between the curriculum and the community that can be powerful sources of learning for your students as well as for you.