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2013 OSEP Project Directors' Conference Blog

Cultural Responsiveness in Educational Settings: A Chat with Keynote Speaker Dr. Vanessa Siddle Walker

Jun 20

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6/20/2013 9:59 AM  RssIcon

 A number of sessions at this year’s OSEP Project Directors’ Conference will address cultural responsiveness, including a keynote presentation by Dr. Vanessa Siddle Walker, Samuel Candler Dobbs Professor of Educational Studies at Emory University.  Many OSEP funded projects strive to ensure the needs of diverse learners and school personnel are met through a variety of projects, including personnel development projects.

On Monday, July 15, 2013 Dr. Siddle Walker will deliver a keynote presentation, “Lost Professional Commitments and Living Conceptual Challenges,” that will focus on how using successful practices employed by Black educators in the past may better engage schools and communities today.  In this candid conversation Dr. Siddle Walker reflected on how the lessons learned from the past can influence practices used in school systems today, not only for diverse learners, but for all students.

Reflect on the History and Think About the Present The successes of Black educators during the de jure segregated South are often overlooked but there are invaluable lessons we can learn from their script.  We can apply the principles they used back then to address some of the complex issues faced in education today.    

Ensure Parents are Collaborators  Schools today are in need of being interconnected and operating from a similar agenda as parents.  We know from history that things work out best for diverse students and communities when parents collaborate with schools and they have distinct, agreed upon roles.    

Provide Education Leaders with Professional Autonomy  Professional educational leaders should be treated as professional leaders and given some autonomy to be professional. Educators need to have the space and opportunity to get to know their students and parents in order to create appropriate and individualized goals and action plans that works in that space, for those parents and students.  A professional leader needs to have the capacity to plan in their space.  They also need opportunities to network with other professionals so they can learn from each other and not reinvent the wheel.  However, the script cannot be the same for every school. One size does not fit all.  School reform efforts should operate differently in higher needs schools and communities than it does in affluent areas.   

Design Education around the Best Interest of Children Our goal should always be to create an educational system that’s in the best interest of children instead of other priorities.  Instead of focusing on other agendas, we should center the needs of children and do what’s best for them and put professional educators with them who believe that they know how to educate them.  In addition, we have to have educators who know and believe in children’s ability to succeed.  

To learn more about this important subject please join Dr. Siddle Walker at the conference on Monday, July 15, 2013 at 9:25 a.m. in Salon I & II for the keynote, “Lost Professional Commitments and Living Conceptual Challenges”.  

 Related Resources & Readings

 The National Center for Culturally Responsive Educational Systems (NCCRESt): This OSEP funded project has a plethora of resources on cultural responsiveness. 

 “Organized Resistance and Black Educators' Quest for School Equality, 1878–1938”: This article by Dr. Vanessa Siddle Walker discusses the role of Black educators during de jure segregation in the South. 

 “Original Intent: Black Educators in an Elusive Quest for Justice”: Presentation provided by Dr. Vanessa Siddle Walker at the 2012 American Educational Research Association (AERA) Annual Brown Lecture in Education Research in Washington, D.C.  


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