The Future demands culturally competent educators

For this year's TASL conference I was pumped about the theme  "The Future is Now! I knew that I would learn about the latest tech tools, apps, and websites. But what I didn't know was that there was a thread in the conference theme that addressed the future and the need for Cultural Literacy.  The two keynote speakers brought in the theme of Cultural Literacy. 

Focus on Strengths of Cultures

On Monday, in her Keynote address, Sandra Hughes-Hassell encouraged librarians to flip the script and focus on strengths instead of what is wrong. She challenges educators to stop saying "at risk" and stop having low expectations for students.

She discussed the LibFive concept—Five Key Foundations for Building Inclusive Libraries

The Tuesday keynote was from Alvin Irby.

Alvin is the founder of Barbershop Books, "The nation's most innovative solution for inspiring young black boys to read."

Alvin's message was that Educators need to have cultural competency.  But then he asked the seemingly simple question "What is culture?"  It is influenced by many things like geography, generation, gender, nationality, race, and ethnicity.

He called for us to engage with students. He explained that environments matter and that we need child-friendly reading spaces.  Alvin had some philosophical questions for educators. How do we get to decisions and outcomes? Work with the student's assets instead of focusing on their weaknesses. How about consulting the students? Create transformative experiences for students that expand their realm of possibilities.

Check out Alvin and Barbershop books on Twitter

Resources for Strength-based curriculum

Dr. Lea Waters on strengths-based school culture

Teaching to Strengths
by Debbie Zacarian, Lourdes Alvarez-Ortiz and Judie Haynes

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