The amazing thing about being a school counselor is having the opportunity to work with all students in your building. Every student who walks in our building has the right to feel safe, accepted, and ready to learn. When working with culturally and linguistically diverse students, we need to expand our skills to incorporate an understanding of little people who may be different than us. Here are some tips to get started.
Multicultural counseling often involves helping immigrant students adjust to US culture. If you have immigrant students at your school, consider running a Culture Explorers group where they have a safe place to share their experiences and memories of home, as well as learn how to function in their new US culture. Culture and ESL is a post with lots of tips and resources for supporting immigrant students from a counseling perspective. Additionally, Exploring US Culture, gives step-by-step lessons for how to facilitate a culture group. – Stephanie at Bilingual Learner
One of my favorite quotes is “Other cultures are not failed attempts at being you” (Wade Davis). Think carefully and self-assess what you bring to each interaction with students. Learn from your students as much as they learn from you. Read more about interrupting racism and teaching social justice through character education. – Rebecca at Counselor Up
When I started out in graduate school and later on when I was at my most recent school, I worked with predominantly Latino students living in poorer neighborhoods. Being aware of my own experiences, values and biases was the first essential step to working effectively in counseling with any population, but particularly this one. The next was reading and collecting as many resources as possible. Check out The Morningside Center for Social Responsibility for classroom lessons and ways to approach current events. Outside of the counseling office, also consider your role in helping culturally and linguistically diverse students access special education supports. – Laura at Social Emotional Workshop
When working with students and families who are culturally different, it’s important to familiarize yourself with their cultural beliefs. These beliefs can have significant impact on parental involvement, attendance, and participation in certain school activities. For example, some students will celebrate holidays not observed on the academic calendar and therefore might require time off from school. Acknowledging and respecting students’ cultural beliefs will go a long way in helping you to build a trusting relationship with your students and their families. – Yanique at Kiddie Matters. Check out The Making of A Culturally Competent Counselor.
One of my favorite resources for multicultural counseling is Teaching Tolerance. Visit the Teaching Tolerance website to subscribe to the free magazine, sign-up to receive weekly newsletters, or read about multicultural lessons you can implement at your school. The website also provides free webinars for educators and provides information about the annual Mix It Up at Lunch Day. – Kate at EduKate and Inspire
One way to be culturally competent is to celebrate diversity. We host an annual event called Days of Diversity. Our building is transformed into an unbelievable sight with all the hallways decorated and every classroom a different country. Character Ed lessons are created by the counselors to aid in teaching cultural sensitivity and respect for all. The culminating event for this 3 day celebration is a night where families share their cultural traditions through a visual display of artifacts, dress, and food. We have a diverse population at our school with multiple religions, cultures, and ethnicities represented. It is an exciting week and promotes a culture of sensitivity in our building. Another helpful resource to use for awareness of different cultural celebrations is the Interfaith Calendar of Holidays and Festivals. – The DIY Counselor
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