Cultural Proficiency

By Learning Forward
December 2012
Vol. 33 No. 6
One of the most important concepts in cultural proficiency is understanding the extent to which culture affects every aspect of our lives. Cultural values acquired in childhood endure into adulthood and influence basic functions, including communication, thinking processes, relational styles, and even conflict resolution. However, having this understanding is no guarantee that educators will apply this knowledge. Learning to apply the principles of cultural proficiency takes mindful practice. This is why professional development that aims to help educators become culturally proficient must occur over time and be directly linked to what educators do in practice. Educators must have coaches or mentors who provide feedback and help them see how culture operates in their own classrooms and schools. We can illustrate this point with an example

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Patricia L. Guerra and Sarah W. Nelson

In each issue of JSD, Patricia L. Guerra and Sarah W. Nelson write about the importance of and strategies for developing cultural awareness in teachers and schools. Guerra ( is an assistant professor and Nelson ( is an associate professor in the Department of Education and Community Leadership at Texas State University-San Marcos. Guerra and Nelson are co-founders of Transforming Schools for a Multicultural Society (TRANSFORMS). Columns are available at


Guerra, P. & Nelson, S. (2011, December). The ability to value diversity requires extensive, ongoing learning experiences. JSD, 32(6), 59-60.

Learning Forward is the only professional association devoted exclusively to those who work in educator professional development. We help our members plan, implement, and measure high-quality professional learning so they can achieve success with their systems, schools, and students.

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