Five Ways to Celebrate Your Students’ Cultures

Five Ways to Celebrate Your Students’ Cultures

Effective teachers cultivate positive relationships with students every day, no matter if the classroom is physical or virtual. They foster emotional connections among students, and help them to feel a sense of belonging and purpose.

This is not a small task. In fact, it is possibly one of the most difficult but important things an educator can do. According to the latest research in developmental science, relationships between and among children and adults are “a primary process through which biological and contextual factors influence and mutually reinforce each other.”

This means that when children experience positive relationships, they are not only creating the pathways for lifelong learning, adaptation, and integration of social, emotional, and cognitive skills, but also making qualitative changes to their genetic makeup. In other words, children’s brains change in response to their life experiences, relationships, and the environments they encounter from birth into adulthood.

Positive relationships also foster resilience, and reduce the impact that negative factors—such as adverse childhood experiences (ACE)—may have on children’s healthy development. Researchers from the Center on the Developing Child at Harvard University suggest that these positive experiences, along with support from adults and the development of adaptive skills, can counterbalance the lifelong consequences of adversity.

Unfortunately, differences in social and cultural backgrounds can make it harder for students to trust teachers. For instance, Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC) students and their families may have a hard time trusting their white teachers, given America’s history and current reality of institutionalized racism. At the same time, white teachers may not be inclined to trust their BIPOC students due to their own bias and learned beliefs. This trust gap may hinder their ability to establish meaningful relationships, and can affect students’ academic success.

While an increasing number of schools are adopting social-emotional learning (SEL) programs and practices to create positive learning environments, many fail to incorporate cultural competence as an essential building block to foster these trusting relationships. However, educators still need to gain awareness of their own cultural identity, consider their biases, and how they use their power and privilege with students. Cultural competence also means that educators develop their ability to learn about and build on the varying cultural and community assets of students and their families.

In my new book, Teaching with the HEART in Mind: A Complete Educator’s Guide to Social Emotional Learning, I discuss why educators need to build their cultural competence in order to nurture positive relationships—and how they can ensure that students feel respected, seen, and affirmed. At the root of developing a culturally responsive classroom lies the belief that students’ diverse cultural practices and ethnic backgrounds are assets in the learning process, that should be celebrated and incorporated into academic content and pedagogy. “Culture is central to student learning,” writes education consultant Zaretta Hammond. “Cultural practices shape students’ thinking processes, which serve as tools for learning in and outside of school.” Therefore, students’ languages, cultures, and life experiences should be acknowledged as meaningful sources for learning and understanding.

1. Develop an awareness of your own racial and cultural identity

This entails identifying the historical roots of your identity, as well as beliefs, values, the way culture has influenced your life, and the things that motivate and matter to you. It also involves considering implicit biases, and the privileges and disadvantages afforded to you based on your race or ethnicity. This process is especially important for white educators, since research suggests people of color will commonly begin developing their racial identity before white people. According to author and University of Georgia professor Dr. Anneliese Singh, developing a positive racial identity entails cultivating nonjudgmental curiosity—questioning old ideas and remaining open to new ones.

How to Build a Culture of Inclusivity Starting With Your Kids

How to Build a Culture of Inclusivity Starting With Your Kids

I’m a parent of three children, ages 8, 10, and 13, with mixed identities. We’re Brown first- and second-generation Americans descended from Indian and Pakistani immigrants.

As a result, I’ve been keenly aware of how my kids are relating to their identities as they engage in their own paths of self-discovery.

Each has grappled in their own way with understanding how they “fit” into their surroundings. They code-switch and accentuate aspects of their identity like race, family background, and family culture to better assimilate in their communities.

When we traveled around the world as a family for a year, we all got a lot of practice in code-switching techniques. In each country, we accentuated the aspects of our identity that helped us assimilate, to be included by the community as one of their own instead of transactional tourists.

For example, in the 4-plus months that we traveled through Central and South America, we leaned into our Spanish-speaking skills and brown skin to facilitate friendships with locals.

In Cuba, we were proud when we were mistaken for Cubanos and relished an Indian shopkeeper’s delight when our bargaining language switched from Spanish to Hindi.

We loved feeling like locals but were aware of our differences, a balance that kept us culturally humble and hungry to learn.

The feeling of inclusion is powerful, yet it’s easy to take for granted when you’re used to it. Perhaps the best way to capture the power of inclusivity is to remember the painful feeling of its opposite.

Recall the hurt of realizing you weren’t invited to the birthday party or weren’t welcome to sit at the “cool” lunch spot at school. Remember those moments when you weren’t let in on the secret or didn’t get the “inside joke” that others shared?

Exclusion stings. It makes us feel like we are the “other.” We aren’t extended the acceptance, approval, and empathy afforded to those who are included.

In addition to the feeling of exclusion, we can look to science. Research tells us that social relationships affect a number of health outcomes, including physical and mental health.

A sense of belonging makes us feel that we aren’t alone, increasing our ability to cope more effectively with hardships. In other words, the stronger the connections and ties are to the communities we’re exposed to and identify with, the more resilient and empathetic we are likely to become. Here’s the catch. If we find inclusion and a sense of belonging only in like-minded people, we perpetuate implicit biases and discrimination. Put another way, creating “inclusion” through the act of excluding others falsely empowers a few while harming the larger community. For instance, the concept of patriotism hinges upon whether someone […]

Continue reading the rest at www.healthline.com

Fighting the Stigma: Mental Health among Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders

Fighting the Stigma: Mental Health among Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders

Although the US has made progress in raising awareness of mental health and normalizing conversations about the topic, a great deal of stigma remains around mental illness and poor mental health, and many still face barriers to accessing services and supports.

Among Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) communities, these issues are often shrouded by silence and shame, allowing misconceptions and minimization of mental health concerns to thrive.

But AAPIs are not a monolith . Our understanding of their mental health needs—and how we respond—should reflect the diversity of experiences within the AAPI community . Here’s what you should know about this important topic and underserved population this Mental Health Awareness Month and Asian Pacific American Heritage Month . AAPIs are the least likely of any racial or ethnic group to report mental health issues and to seek mental health services

According to the National Survey on Drug Use and Health, AAPI adults report serious psychological distress at about half the rate of the US average —but there is wide variation between AAPI ethnic subgroups. Vietnamese Americans, Native Hawaiians, and Pacific Islanders report poor mental health at rates closer to the US average than to their AAPI counterparts.

There are also notable differences in mental health across immigration-related factors . Second-generation AAPIs were almost twice as likely to report a mental health disorder in the past year than first-generation immigrants. But even after controlling for prevalence of mental illness, AAPI adults seek mental health services less than any other group. They are almost three times less likely than white adults to seek mental health services for unmet needs. A 2015 Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration study found AAPIs were more likely than people of other racial or ethnic identities to cite “low perceived need,” “structural barriers,” and “not thinking services would help” as reasons for not using mental health services. AAPIs face cultural and structural barriers to accessing mental health services

Although there are deep-rooted systemic challenges with the American mental health care system as a whole—such as inadequate funding and support, uneven geographic distribution of services, and fragmented and uncoordinated service providers— certain cultural and structural barriers also affect service provision and quality of care for AAPI communities more specifically.

Culturally specific attitudes among AAPIs that stigmatize help-seeking include the following: The model minority myth. The assumption that all AAPIs experience educational success and economic stability can place immense pressure on people to meet these societal and familial expectations, often at the cost of their mental well-being.

Generational experiences of hardship. Many first-generation AAPIs experienced trauma as immigrants or refugees adapting to life in a foreign land. As a result, younger generations often feel guilty about sharing their mental health […]

Continue reading the rest at www.urban.org

Opinion: Overcoming stigma as an Asian American with ADHD

Overcoming stigma as an Asian American with ADHD

In many Asian American families, a good education and success in school is prioritized above all else. According to Eurekalert, a science news website, this high academic pressure stems from Asian cultures believing that academic success is the only way to climb up the economic ladder.

This strict viewpoint is imposed upon Asian American high school students with immigrant parents, and many of these students struggle with this pressure.

Meeting such academic standards is even more challenging for learning disabled Asian American children. And I am one of them.

As a Chinese student diagnosed with ADHD and ADD, it is extremely hard to cope with the fact you have a learning disorder. Some people in my Asian community did not acknowledge my learning disabilities, as traditional Chinese people look down upon learning disabilities.

ADHD, ADD, and other learning disabilities are considered shameful in the Chinese community. People who dismissed my ADHD and ADD just assumed I was “not smart,” and that was a “fault” of my parents. For many, there is no such thing as ADHD and ADD — they believe this is just a cover-up for laziness.

In an article from Understood, a website devoted to educating the public about learning disabilities, Professor Manju Banerjee states that Asian American parents believe that their child’s learning disability is a result of bad parenting. Therefore, these parents do not feel comfortable revealing data or information on their child’s learning struggles.

Thus, there is a scarcity of literature investigating ADHD among Asian Americans, but it’s not because ADHD affects fewer Asian students. According to the National Association of School Psychologists, the lack of data on Asian learning disabled children could be due to the fact that fewer Asian families report their children as learning disabled, due to the stigma.

Because of the stigma of ADHD, my ADHD was not even recognized until I was in middle school. I began falling behind in my classes because I was unable to complete my work or focus for at least 30 minutes. However, none of my teachers or counselors believed I had ADHD because I still managed to keep up good grades. And I think it was also rare for them to see an Asian student with ADHD, so I believe this is why my learning disabilities were so often ignored.

Teachers were unaware of all my sleepless nights and hours of frustration trying to keep up with my peers, who did not have ADHD and ADD. I felt like I was running a race with a weight tied to my ankle. On top of that, no one made me feel like my ADHD was valid, and I constantly blamed myself for not being able to perform like everyone else.

However, over the years, I have learned to accept my ADHD. I accepted the fact that although it does not define me, it is a part of me, and I have developed ways to cope with it. I am able to achieve success, despite my ADHD. Finally, I no longer feel ashamed of having it.

I want to use this opportunity to break the stereotype of Asians not having learning disabilities. It is so uncommon to hear about an Asian with a learning disability because it is stigmatized so heavily in the Asian community. Many Asian parents feel that their child’s inability to learn is their fault, and do not talk about it or try to hide it because it is so shameful.

How I Learned To Talk To My Filipino Mom About My Mental Health

It can be hard to talk with family members about issues like depression and anxiety. It’s especially difficult for the adult children of immigrant parents. NPR’s Malaka Gharib has this story of a Filipino-American woman working to change that.

MALAKA GHARIB, BYLINE: Twenty-eight-year-old Ryan Tanep (ph) is from Virginia Beach, Va. Her parents both came from the Philippines. Growing up, she often felt like she was living in two worlds – the American world and the Filipino world. And that had an effect on her emotional life.

RYAN TANEP: Emotions and feelings – just something you don’t talk about.

GHARIB: I know what that’s like. My mom is Filipino. When I was a kid and I told her about something that bothered me, she’d just tell me not to think about it.

TANEP: You just kind of soldier on through it and not really ever tell your parents or family members whenever you’re going through something tough.

GHARIB: Ryan remembers this one time when she was in high school. She came home crying because a girl had bullied her.

TANEP: And my mom told me to read the Bible. She said, just open it to whatever page it opens to, and something there is going to help you. And I remember doing that, and I’m like, why isn’t anything helping me?

GHARIB: Ryan says that her Filipino friends were bumping into the same problem. It was as if their parents were reading from the same script. And it turns out, they kind of were. Stephanie Balon is a Filipino-American youth and family therapist. She’s with the Daly City Youth Health Center in California. She says she hears stories like Ryan’s from her patients all the time.

STEPHANIE BALON: So when there is that disconnect between parents and children, you can imagine how isolating that can be.

GHARIB: One of the problems is that our hardships seem to pale in comparison to the incredible struggle our parents had to go through, leaving their homes to start a brand-new life in America. So it’s understandable why Ryan kept quiet about her feelings. And for years, she dealt with depression and anxiety.

TANEP: I didn’t tell anyone, you know?GHARIB: And when things got really bad, she thought about suicide.TANEP: Not only that but, like, a lot of people I know – one of my ex-boyfriends – him, too. I’ve had friends open up to me, like, this is what I’m going through right now. What do I do?GHARIB: Studies have found that Filipino-Americans have some of the highest rates of depression among Asian-Americans, yet they seek mental health treatment at the lowest rates. E.J. Ramos David is a Filipino-American psychologist at the University of Alaska Anchorage. He says Filipinos don’t […]

Continue reading the rest at www.npr.org

Study: Asians Perceived To Lack Charisma

Study: Asians Perceived To Lack Charisma

Why do we see fewer Asian Americans in senior management positions? In the first study on Asian Americans and perceptions of leadership, researchers found that Asians are seen as having less charisma when compared to their white counterparts — a trait that’s often synonymous with leadership in Western societies. Host Michel Martin discusses the findings of this new study with lead author, Thomas Sy, of the University of California, Riverside.

I’m Michel Martin and this is TELL ME MORE from NPR News. Coming up, my weekly Can I Just Tell You commentary. That’s in just a few minutes.

But first, you may have heard the phrase model minority used to describe Asian-Americans. That’s because they are popularly perceived to have strong study and work habits, behave with discipline, and willingly adopt American culture. But that stereotype, favorable as it may seem, is not helpful when it comes to being viewed as leaders.

A new study says that Asian-Americans, when compared with white Americans especially, are thought to be lacking in charisma and thus lacking in leadership ability in business and the board room. And these results may help explain why we see a smaller percentage of Asian-Americans in top management than whites, the researchers say.

To learn more about this study and how the results might be used in real life, we’ve called the lead author of the study, Thomas Sy. He’s an assistant professor of psychology at the University of California Riverside. And he’s with us from NPR West in Culver City, California. Thanks so much for joining us.

Professor THOMAS SY (University of California Riverside): Thanks for having me, Michel.

MARTIN: So I’m going to ask you to try to explain as simply as you can what was your methodology.

Prof. SY: Sure.

MARTIN: But the basic core question is, is there a stereotype that Asian-Americans are technically competent, but somehow not qualified for the top job?

Prof. SY: That’s a fairly accurate statement.

MARTIN: So how did you go around testing that idea?

Prof. SY: Sure, sure. So we provided them with an evaluation of an employee. This description gives fairly basic information. And all participants get the same type of information. The only thing that we varied was race itself. For our Caucasian counterpart, the description of this employee was John Davis. For our Asian counterpart it was Tung-Sheng Wong. In addition to name, we varied it by providing with demographic information. We literally told them: race, colon, Caucasian or Asian. And a third variable, we actually provide them with a picture. So this picture was either a picture of a Caucasian individual or an Asian individual.

MARTIN: So you surveyed business undergraduates because you were interested in future leaders. But you also surveyed groups of […]

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