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Cultural Humility…What Does It Mean to You?

Today, we completed our two-part Talks on Tuesdays webinar series entitled “Beyond Cultural Competence: How to Effectively Work with ALL Families.” This webinar series introduced what may be a new concept to early intervention practitioners. This concept, cultural humility, helps us think more deeply about culture and involves a sense of understanding that we do not and cannot know all that there is to know about any culture. While we may think we are culturally competent, the reality is that we can never truly be fully competent about any culture. There are too many other, unique influences in any one person’s life to assume that he or she will behave or think a certain way because of cultural identity. Our presenter, Barbara Grant, MA, shared a key idea today that summed this up: Treat everyone as if they have their own unique culture. 

If you did not participate in the webinar series, I invite you to watch the archived recordings. You can find both of them on the Talks on Tuesdays 2017 Recordings page (the archive for today’s webinar will be posted soon).  To help you continue this journey, here are some additional resources where you (and your staff) can learn more about cultural humility.

VIDEO: Cultural Humility

For a complete overview of this concept from Dr. Melanie Tervalon and Dr. Jann Murray-Garcia, watch this 30-minute documentary. As you watch, consider the following questions:

  1. How does the concept of cultural humility apply to my work with families?
  2. What cultural influences are present in my community?
  3. What is one thing I will do differently now that I am aware of cultural humility?

SELF-REFLECTION: Promoting Cultural & Linguistic Competency: Self-Assessment Checklist for Personnel Providing Services and Supports In Early Intervention and Early Childhood Settings

A key component of practicing cultural humility is self-reflection. You will hear the doctors in the video discuss its importance. Take time to complete this reflection checklist to examine your own ideas about promoting cultural and linguistic competence.

Once you complete the self-assessment, consider discussing the following questions during a staff meeting or supervision session:

  1. What did you identify as strengths for yourself? If you reflect more broadly on your work culture, what does your agency do well?
  2. Where could you improve? How would these changes affect your work with families? With your colleagues?

BLOG: True Confessions: Checking My Biases with Family-Centered Practices

Another aspect of practicing cultural humility is raising awareness of your own cultural biases. We all have them, but are not always aware of them. Taking the time to consider what biases might be affecting your relationships with families is the first step. Read this blog post and discuss it with a colleague or at a staff meeting. If want to dig in a little deeper, complete this checklist: Cultural Competence Checklist: Personal Reflection. Be sure to answer honestly, not how you think you “should” answer. Be open to learning about yourself as you process your responses with a colleague or your supervisor.

I encourage you to keep this conversation going, either internally or with your colleagues. Practicing cultural humility is an ongoing learning process, one that can be enhanced when we commit to learning and reflecting together.

What is one thing you do to practice cultural humility? How do you ensure that you are open to learning about families from backgrounds that are different from your own?

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For more information and resources related to cultural competence, visit the Cultural Competence topic page on the VA Early Intervention Professional Development Center site.

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