A Suggestion for Educators Among the Culturally Diverse Bay County

by Whitney Nieves
Photo provided by Whitney Nieves Photo provided by Whitney Nieves

As educators, it is our responsibility to sensitize ourselves, especially when we cater to a heavy military student body. These students are unique, bringing with them a worldly culture. We must be tolerant but also forgiving. (Abdul). We should take these opportunities to gain experience with our students, understanding that they may feel strongly about their heritage. However, we should never forget that there is always room to grow. It is unfair to assume that an individual is intentionally being culturally insensitive.

Being a culturally sensitive educator is not just a responsibility, it is a rewarding experience. As Paulo Freire (1993) explains, students are challenged when frequently presented with problems related to themselves and the world around them. They react with a sense of obligation and need to challenge the problem. In doing so, students view the challenge not as a single problem but as one that is interrelated to others. As a result, students practice critical comprehension with one another rather than alienating the challenge. This approach not only fosters a deeper understanding of the subject matter but also promotes a more inclusive and supportive learning environment.

The Bridging Cultures Project was designed to develop and implement “culturally informed instructional strategies” that resonate in the classroom. The project's most significant outcome was the profound connection educators formed with parents. Educators involved in the program experienced a transformative shift in their perspectives on families and themselves. They gained a deeper understanding of the student's world, empathized with the parents, and recognized the importance of background knowledge about the students. With a growing diverse student population in BDS, this skill set is critical to veteran and new teachers with minimal pedagogical knowledge.

● Abdul-Jabbar, Kareem, and Raymond Obstfeld. Writings on the Wall: Searching For a New Equality Beyond Black and White. Liberty Street, 2016.

● Freire, Paulo. Pedagogy of the Oppressed. Penguin Classics, 2017.

● Rothstein-Fisch, Carrie, and Elise Trumbull. Managing Diverse Classrooms: How to Build on Students' Cultural Strengths. Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development, 2008.

Whitney Nieves is running for School Board District 1.

(Bay County Coastal does not endorse candidates.)