I just finished reading the last three chapters of The Welcoming Classroom and for me, Chapter 4, Becoming a Culturally Competent Communicator, was the most relevant.
The big idea I took away from this chapter is that culture influences communication and without this understanding in place, there’s a real danger of miscommunication.
To communicate effectively with people from another culture we need to be thoughtful observers. We need to watch people as they interact with us and with others, and notice what makes them comfortable. We also need to pay close attention to body language, and in particular to touch, eye contact and personal space.
To sum it up, it’s all about being thoughtful and respectful.
Chapter 5 specifically addresses pre-school organizations and discusses ways to be culturally competent.
The book concludes with Chapter 6, “Culturally and Linguistically Competent Classrooms”. My favourite part in this chapter was Ernst’s advice to lose the lingo and use language that families will understand.
My guess is that most teachers already do this, but it’s definitely worth a reminder. For example, instead of saying “gross motor development”, say”large muscle development”. Similarly, talk about how “children feel about themselves and how they get along with others” rather than using the terms “social and emotional development”.
My Personal Opinion
Overall, I thought this was a well researched book with a great message. While it’s geared towards pre-school, there’s certainly LOTS that a teacher of any grade can take away. My only complaint (and it’s a mild one) is that it reads like a text book.
If you’d like to read my earlier chapter reviews you can find them all here.
Thanks for stopping by!