Lesson-4: Instructional Cultural Responsiveness and Divergent Thinking

Xochitl (Sow-Cheel) teaches at a predominately white institution. Xochitl was born in Mexico and named after her grandmother, but was raised in Columbia by her parents. She is more familiar with Colombian culture, but recently, has begun to explore her Mexican heritage. In the past, she has discussed the challenges of being a Latina familiar with Columbian heritage and disappointment when people learn she is not as familiar with her Mexican heritage as her Columbian heritage. Xochitl works in a predominately white institution with her supervisor Margo. Margo calls Xochitl “Zoe” which she does not like. Xochitl repeatedly corrects Margo that her name is Xochitl pronounced (Sow-cheel). Xochitl reports this is a taxing part of her job.  Xochitl pointed out that she struggles to understand her students’ behaviors and responses in class and the lack of connection she feels with some of her colleagues. Xochitl admits that racism is micro-aggression is blatant, and other times less so, which only adds to Xochitl’s desire to address this issue once and for all at least with her students and maybe also in her working environment.

Using her supervisor Margo as an example, Xochitl shares that she understands she is not asking for racism or micro-aggressions to occur, but she recognizes that and wants a better way to cope with the stress it is causing her.  Xochitl also sometimes feels marginalized by what she refers to as a “lack of understanding” from her students about her experiences in the classroom. She states that she cannot hide the fact she is Latina. Which creates a burden to answer student questions which at times are rude or uncomfortable to answer.  She also notes that white instructors did not have the same challenges with their students. The department dean suggested professional development on the CRS© model may be helpful. 

After attending the training, Xochitl received clarity on why she struggled to connect with her students and some of her peers. Some of the students were not showing respect due to bias and/or racism.  Xochitl could also see where some students were just relying on academic cultural norms, to navigate the learning environment. Xochitl recognized that she was attempting to teach in a way that did not reflect her culture.  She learned aspects of Eurocentric culture directly conflicted with her own and may have an impact on her teaching process.  Xochitl made a comparison of Applied Columbian Culture and Applied European culture and learning.

Columbian vs. Eurocentric (Plotts, 2020a)

Columbian Cultural Lens: Skill Building and ApplicationSelf-Reliant Skill Building (Scandinavian)
Columbian Cultural Lens: Students perceive investment in personal skill building as a caring act.Independent and Acknowledgement of Pride (Slavic Czech)
Columbian Cultural Lens: Family loyalty is paramount.Hospitality is paramount (Slavic Czech)
Columbian Cultural Lens: Significant access to medical care and extended resources when compared to their counterparts.Self-Reliance (English Culture)
Columbian Cultural Lens: The feedback should reflect the cultural value of education and resourcefulness.Consultative Facilitation (English)
Columbian Cultural Lens: Strong and consistent negotiation skills are a tool used to navigate collaborative experiences.Practical Solutions (French Canadian)

Xochitl reported that understanding the different cultures of her students and peers helped her manage acculturative stress. One because her experiences with racism and micro-aggressions were amplified by other faculty of color and two because Xochitl gained a better understanding of how her culture significantly contributed to the learning environment. Xochitl noted that she her favorite part of her professional development was that Columbian culture was affirmed within the learning practices. Xochitl also reported this insight would not change the micro-aggression of students or peers. Xochitl hopes to learn more about how her Mexican cultural heritage can influence cultural responsiveness in her classroom.

The new insight can help her manage the acculturative stress in the environment more effectively and create healthy boundaries and outcomes for herself.  This insight won’t make any of her peers change their attitudes or behaviors. Xochitl’s experience focused on her health and wellness. 

Xochitl is now able to explore the differences in culture aloud divergent thinking diminished the application of marginalizing used as a coping strategy. Lastly, Xochitl also noted that although the training provided explanations and clarity, it did not excuse the continuation of racism and micro-aggressions in her workplace. She will be looking for more alternatives to address the continued micro-aggressions from her supervisor.