“Getting Centered—Valuing Diversity Is a Reflection of Shared Beliefs, Values, and Vision" Chapter Six (Lindsey et al, 2009)
—Covey (2004), p.27
The above quote from Covey holds especially true in the globalized world where information is abundant and we often struggle to make sense of it. When we collaborate collectively we are much stronger and add to our understanding. Here valuing differences becomes an opportunity to further knowledge.
In terms of valuing diversity, my school site embraces differences, probably more than most schools. We have several students who are mixed race, bilingual, gay, lesbian, or transgender, foster children, a few student’s who are homeless, and many from poor socio-economic backgrounds, as well as wealthy backgrounds. Overall, because my school site is an Art’s magnet, we value diversity and it shapes who we our.
Going deeper with cultural proficiency, I agree with the idea that we value diversity through shared beliefs, values, and vision in culturally proficient learning communities. In my role as a professional educator and teacher of World History, the following questions help guide how I approach my work:
1. In what ways do we acknowledge multiple perspectives?
2. In what ways do I insure that assessment choices reflect a value for diversity?
3. In what ways do I insure that my value for diversity is apparent to our students?
Questions addressing the culture of my school include, but are not limited to:
1. In what ways do we acknowledge common purpose(s)?
2. In what ways do we insure that curricular choices reflect a value for diversity?
To extend professional learning, my school site might look at the ways we base vision and actions on common assessment results? Or what ways we insure that instructional strategies are differentiated in a manner that values diversity? Or in what ways can my school site insure that we our learning communities incorporate valuing diversity as a lens for our work? This year, our site began this process by focusing on Fisher, Douglas, Nancy Frey, and Ian Pumpian’s book, How to Create a Culture of Achievement in your School and Classroom (2012). The work began through our Instructional Leadership Team and there is a plan in place to continue it next school year.
Reflecting on Vignette #4: Personal Identities—Maple High School Vignette: Although sexual orientation is an issue for many learning communities, it is not an issue at my school site. We have several gay and lesbian faculty members at my site, including a few who recently married, and a club on campus for student’s whom are either gay, lesbian, or transgender or who have an interest in gender identity. In fact, our Principal and his partner are scheduled to marry next week. For me, the sexual orientation of the Maple High School student’s parents was an eye-opener that not all learning communities are like the one at my school site.
Three Key Lessons:
(1) Valuing diversity involves shared beliefs, values, and vision.
(2) Deeping culturally proficiency.
(3) Questions to assist educational leaders to guide learning communities to value diversity.
Three Key Quotes:
(1) “Acknowledge multiple perspectives”
(2) “Acknowledge common purpose(s), and”
(3) “Base vision and actions on common assessment results”
(Lindsey et al, 2009)
Three Key Questions:
(1) How to change set beliefs and stereotypes?
(2) How do we blend the cultures of horizontal and department teams with shared beliefs, values, and vision for our school in a way that promotes unity, individuality, and equity?
(3) How do we maintain the significance of our own experiences and individuality, but include the multiple perspectives and embrace collaborative opportunities?
Overall, this chapter explores many key issues for educational learning communities. The idea of constructing experiences that value diversity through shared beliefs, values, and vision being an essential one. Also, the vignettes on Problem-Based Learning (PBL) and on sexual orientation provide opportunities for developing professional learning goals and securing additional resources. Finally, it challenges educators to develop strategies to improve learning and achievement for students traditionally not included.