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Culturally Proficient Leadership

Culturally Proficient Leadership
The Personal Journey Begins Within

Second Edition

Foreword by Dan Alpert

June 2018 | 248 pages | Corwin

Becoming a culturally proficient leader requires the kind of courage, clarity, and insight that can only come from looking inward first. It’s a personal learning journey of will and skill, and if you’re up to the challenge, one that will change how you see your school, your students, and yourself as you build your own cultural competence. Consider this second edition of Culturally Proficient Leadershipyour personal road map for navigating that journey.   

Each chapter of Culturally Proficient Leadership invites you to put your experiences up front and challenges you to reframe your story based on multiple viewpoints—now, notably, with the addition of new coauthors Delores Lindsey and Eloise Kemp Terrell, who have their own remarkable stories and insight to share. Overall, all four authors will help you answer the critical question “Is what we say what we do?” utilizing the tools of Cultural Proficiency to 

  • engage in Reflections and Cultural Interviews to explore what you learn about those who are culturally different from you 
  • develop a Cultural Autobiography to provide a picture of the cultural memberships that have influenced who you are as a person 
  • use the Cultural Proficiency Continuum to examine your progress as a leader in serving your students and communities
  • prepare an intentional Leadership Plan that summarizes your journey from Cultural Precompetence to Cultural Proficiency

The central “inside-out” premise of Cultural Proficiency is that engaging in deep introspection around one’s personal beliefs, values, and behaviors in response to human differences is the first step toward systemic educational reform. We invite you to embark on this journey of self-awareness, of moral courage, and of the life-affirming power of human diversity.    

“I believe deeply that we cannot solve the challenges of our time unless we solve them together—unless we perfect our union by understanding that we may have different stories, but we hold common hopes; that we may not look the same and may not come from the same place, but we all want to move in the same direction: toward a better future for our children and our grandchildren.” 
—Barack Obama, Los Angeles Times, 2008  

Art of Hosting: Diversity
About the Authors
Part I. Leadership Is a Developed Personal Perspective
1. The Leadership Journey Begins Within
2. The Cultural Proficiency Leadership Lens
3. Constructing Your Cultural Autobiography
Part II. Knowing Ourselves
4. Leaders Responding to Issues Related to Race, Ethnicity, and National Origin
5. Leaders Responding to Issues Related to Language, Gender, and Social Class
6. Leaders Responding to Issues Related to Sexual Orientation, Faith, and Ableness
Part III. Leading From an Ethical Framework
7. Culturally Competent and Proficient Leadership Actions
8. Educators and the Promise of Democracy
9. A Note to Those Preparing Educational Leaders
A. Authors’ Autobiographies
B. Cultural Proficiency Books’ Essential Questions
References and Further Readings

"We’re so pleased to see the newest edition of Culturally Proficient Leadership is coming out soon! We have used the first edition of this valuable book for the last several years as one of the core texts for our course, “Educational Leadership for Diverse Learners,” and look forward to using the new edition. The very personal and interactive nature of the book provides our students, who are preparing to be school principals, both a model of what a deeply self-reflective journey looks like and a structure for engaging in such a journey for themselves. Through this work, we have seen dozens of future school leaders move into a process of personal development in a manner that both celebrates their journey and challenges their thinking. This most recent edition is updated to include references to the most recent version of ESSA and includes the voices of women by adding the perspectives and stories of the original authors’ life partners to the mix.  These additions are timely and important as more and more women seek roles in educational leadership. It’s about time."

Patricia A. Talbot and Brad E. Bizzell, Associate Professors of Educational Leadership
Radford University

"The Lindseys and Terrells continue to empower educators by sharing the tools of cultural proficiency. The guiding principles presented here are uniquely designed to ensure that, within our nation's beautifully diverse schools, every student knows adults who will help them thrive."

Joe Gothard, Superintendent
Saint Paul Public Schools

"Culturally Proficient Leadership has served as a reflective tool in assisting our school site principals through their personal journeys as culturally proficient leaders. As they reflect on their own experiences, our principals gain better understanding in order to respond to those day to day questions, concerns, and issues that arise on school campuses, which often times hold cultural underpinnings. Through the content in Chapters 1-4 and the accompanying reflective writing practices, our site leaders have begun to construct their own cultural autobiographies. Most effective have been the candid conversations principals have started having with each other about their own upbringing, as well as their noticings, wonderings, and increased self-awareness of their culture. More importantly, this self-awareness is building increased effectiveness in cross-cultural settings. These guided learnings continue to build those skills needed in supporting our community."

Cindy De Clercq and Mercedes Hubschmitt, Executive Director II and Director, Learning Support Services
Poway Unified School District
Key features
  • Different from other leadership books in that it is based on the premise that a leader must clearly understand his or her own assumptions, beliefs and values in order to be effective in cross-cultural settings
  • Personal journey narratives provide a guide to readers for discovering their own cultural identities.  They also serve as a powerful illustration of "Inside-Out" growth processes.
  • An effective companion to other books on cultural proficiency including Corwin Press bestsellers Cultural Proficiency: A Manual for School Leaders; Culturally Proficient Instruction: A Guide for People Who Teach; and The Culturally Proficient School: An Implementation Guide for School Leaders.
  • Chronologically-ordered chapters provide historical context to the development of racial and cultural identities
  • The reflective activities and cultural interview protocols guide readers to understand their own assumptions, to know their values relative to equity issues, and to create change within their own practice.

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