"Sustaining a Culturally Proficient Learning Community" Chapter Four (Lindsey et al, 2009)
—Fullan, 1999, p.37
The above quote from Fullan (1999) describes many of the learning communities and opportunities that exist in today’s learning environment—an environment abundant with information. To be effective in this environment requires a collective and collaborative mindset. In terms of the strengths and assets of the learning communities I serve in, most value diversity and multiple perspectives.
According to Fullan (1999), collaborative communities that value diversity can access ideas more effectively and solve more complex issues. I see the learning communities that I am part of as embracing these opportunities. As a member of several learning communities, I often contribute by assuming leadership roles and taking on additional responsibilities. In some cases, I take on too many responsibilities. In terms of cultural contributions, as a historian and traveler, I see my experiences as an asset and strength in the learning communities I serve.
At my school site, teachers serve on horizontal and departmental teams to collaboratively learn about our students. In our classrooms and within the school community, we survey students, parents, and community members to help assess the school culture and climate. In terms of technology, the classroom learning management system (LMS) has also afforded an opportunity to extend communications and collaborate more effectively.
Three Key Lessons:
- Sustaining a culturally proficient learning community once it is constructed.
- Developing a context for the culturally proficient learning community
- (3) Language shift from traditional models for school improvement to a collaborative model.
(1) “Effective collaborative cultures are not based on like-minded consensus” (Fullan, 1999
(2) “…worked together to encourage and support district educators to become more aware of the changing demographics of the community and to view diversity as an opportunity and positive experience rather than a challenge and negative experience” (p.57-58.
(3) “…a shift in language that occurs when community leaders focus on student learning rather than totally on student circumstances” (p. 58).
Three Key Questions:
(1) How does a school or district shift to language of professional learning communities?
(2) How do teachers create a context for culturally proficient learning communities?
(3) What are some of the ways my school community collaboratively learns about students?
Overall, chapter four serves as a lens to examine my school site and provides a transition from the language of compliance and blame to a collaborative model of commitment and on-going trust between people and the process.