How to Demonstrate Cultural Competence in Your Class Blog or Website?

ISTE Standards for Educators 4B: Demonstrate cultural competency when communicating with students, parents and colleagues and interact with them as co-collaborators in student learning.

Due to the global pandemic, many educators have been teaching remotely and using a virtual space to replace physical classrooms. For most educators, an online platform is a place where we can assign student learning tasks, share resources, and gather feedback. As mandated from school districts, many educators have chosen applications like Google Classroom, Schoology, and Canvas. However, a class website or blog for a teacher can be another effective and creative option. The difference between blogs and websites is that all blogs are websites, but not all websites are blogs. A blog is just a website with a standard set of tools for organization of content built right in – called posts, which can be further organized using tags and categories(Burt & Morris, 2020). Blogs are made to deal with information that changes frequently while a website is great for things we want to leave up for a while. It is not well suited to daily changes.

Blog has been preferred by many educators because it comes with an interface that will allow teachers to easily attach keywords to each post, or automatically format the date and title of each post. It also provides a way for readers to leave comments on each post which website doesn’t. Regardless of choosing a website or blog for our class, how do teachers demonstrate cultural competency when using class blogs and websites communicating and interacting with students, parents, and colleagues? 

Cultural competence is the ability of a person to effectively interact, work, and develop meaningful relationships with people of various cultural backgrounds which can include the beliefs, customs, and practices in daily life (Rosario et al, 2016). According to research from the U.S Department of Education in 2010, 45% of students were from culturally diverse families. The U.S. Census Bureau estimates that by 2043, the U.S. will become a “majority minority” country. Therefore, educators working with students and families need to pay attention to culture which is one of the foundations of effective teaching and learning (Pang et al, 2011). 

While educators are using virtual environments like blogs and websites, they need to be culturally inclusive which means mutual respect, effective relationships, clear communication, explicit understandings about expectations and critical self-reflection.According to the article “Culturally inclusive environment”, in an inclusive environment, people of all cultural orientations can

  • freely express who they are, their own opinions and points of view
  • fully participate in teaching, learning, work and social activities
  • feel safe from abuse, harassment or unfair criticism

Culture is also a key factor in human growth and development, and the creation of effective

conditions for learning (Pang, 2010). One of the strategies for creating a culturally inclusive website or blog is choosing culturally responsive images to connect with students (Aguirre, 2020). Being intentional about the images we use in our blog and website has a profound impact on classroom culture because when students see themselves reflected in our virtual environment, they are more invested in what they are learning. Therefore, images we choose to use in my blog or website should reflect the students and families in our community, as well as those across the country.

Although the following strategies from “Promoting Culturally Competent Teaching” are not specifically for building class blogs and websites to demonstrate cultural competency, I find them share the same goal to promote a culturally competent environment for students and families. 

1. Recognize personal biases and how they may impact their expectations of students and families. Teachers can engage in readings and discussions about privilege or teachers can write personal identity stories that reflect on how their own identities are socially constructed.

2. Expand on teacher knowledge of their students’ cultural backgrounds. 

3. Include multiple cultural perspectives. 

4. Weave students’ own cultural backgrounds into curriculum through student-powered activities. 

5. Confront and engage in controversial topics. 

6. Engage parents and families by sending out regular communications and provide tools to translate information into different languages. 

Regardless of physical or virtual learning space, blogs or websites, our goal is to create a welcoming environment and establish the appreciation of similarities and differences among cultures.

References: 

Rosario T. de Guzman, M., Durden, T., Taylor, S., Guzman, J., & Potthoff, K. (2016, February). Cultural Competence: An Important Skill Set for the 21st Century. Retrieved April 15, 2021, from https://extensionpublications.unl.edu/assets/html/g1375/build/g1375.htm

Pang, V., Stein, R., Gomez, M., Matas, A. & Shimogori, Y., (2011, January). 

Cultural Competencies: Essential Elements of Caring-Centered Multicultural Education. Retrieved April 15, 2021, from 

https://www.researchgate.net/publication/254291460_Cultural_Competencies_Essential_Elements_of_Caring-Centered_Multicultural_Education

Burt, R., & Morris, K. (2020, May). Best Best Teacher Websites In This Time Of Remote Learning. Retrieved April 15, 2021, from https://campuspress.com/best-teacher-websites/

Culturally Inclusive Environment. Retrieved April 15, 2021, from https://www.usc.edu.au/media/19149448/designing-an-inclusive-environment-2021.pdf

Aguirre, L., (2020, October). Choosing Culturally Responsive Images to Connect With Students.Retrieved April 15, 2021, from https://www.edutopia.org/article/choosing-culturally-responsive-images-connect-students

Promoting Culturally Competent Teaching. (2017, August). Retrieved April 15, 2021, from

https://cpb-us-w2.wpmucdn.com/sites.udel.edu/dist/8/4456/files/2017/09/Cultural-Competency-Brief-092217-web-1-1l7jxku.pdf