Why Students Need #BeYou
By Dr. Sharroky Hollie, Executive Director, The Center for Culturally Responsive Teaching and Learning
For those who deeply understand cultural responsiveness, a query should arise for you eventually. When do your students have the opportunity to be who they are culturally and linguistically during the instructional day (as opposed to recess, lunch, and PE)? If you are earnestly practicing responsiveness, then you are dutifully giving your students opportunities for situational appropriateness through validating, affirming, building and bridging. You are talking to them differently, you are leveraging their cultural assets to build and strengthen your relationships with them, and you are teaching them differently (skillset). At some point, though, you want the focus to be validate and affirm and NOT build and bridge. You want moments when the students can be themselves culturally and linguistically…just because they can and it is celebrated as a contribution to their learning affectively (connectedness) and effectively (achievement). Students being themselves culturally and linguistically is the essence of the #BeYou Campaign.
BeYou as a concept is a challenge to you to ensure that there are times when your students can be who they are during instruction. It is an alternative narrative to the often used SLANT posters and protocols that have become so ubiquitous in schools. SLANT stands for Sit up tall, Listen, Ask questions, Nod your head, and Track the teacher. Note that there are many variations of SLANT.
We want students to BeYou (VA) and to SLANT (BB) situationally. As it stands now, the use of SLANT is imbalanced when looking through a CLR lens. It proves to be an over emphasis on our students acting a certain way, typically in alignment with the school culture behaviors and expectations. BeYou is not meant to counter this dynamic. It is intended to create more opportunities for structured ways for students to be themselves culturally and linguistically.
The beginning of this school year officially kicks off our #BeYou Campaign and it starts with you:
- Intentionally plan on instructional activities whereby students are utilizing their cultural assets based on the Rings of Culture and/or the Iceberg Concept Culture.
- Evidence it. Take a picture. Record it. Get student testimonies.
- Send it out via social media - #BeYou, @validateaffirm on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram or YouTube
The recommendation is that you focus on strictly validating and affirming a specific cultural behavior for a period of time - one to three weeks - and use your skillset or CLR Toolbox to attach activities to the selected behavior. Just validate and affirm!
Each month this year, I will suggest a behavior to focus on based on behaviors that are the most likely to be misunderstood. In the skillset section of VABB Perspectives, there will be suggested activities tied to that behavior. The activities will be divided by basic (anybody can do it), advanced (requires mindset, which means intent and purposeful use around culture and language, and premium (includes the mindset piece plus multiple steps and more preparation to do successfully).
August #BeYou Focus Behavior: Socio-centrism
Description: the act of social interaction is more valued than the content being discussed; expectation of non-linear discourse patterns. Learning better by talking, socializing.
Common Misunderstanding: Off task, distracting, disruptive, not focused, talkative, or chatterboxes.
Rings of Culture: Gender, Age, and Ethnic
See the skillset section of this issue for activities that validate and affirm socio-centrism and for when students can #BeYou.