It was standing room only as UNC Pembroke faculty and staff gathered for a recent professional development session on Culturally Responsive Teaching in Higher Education.
Hosted by Shared Interest Group, a part of the Teaching and Learning Center (TLC), participants engaged in culturally responsive activities that included identifying the world of stereotypes, discussing the understandings of cultural misconceptions, participating in the multicultural self and ways in which UNCP can be responsive.
“Being a culturally responsive faculty member is vital, no matter what subject you teach,” said Dr. Scott Hicks, director of TLC. “This team of expert faculty is helping us learn how to build the bridges that connect our students to our curricula in ways that respect our students and leverage the strengths they bring to our classrooms.”
In addition to walking away from the session with knowledge about ways in which we perceive stereotypes and culture, the importance of self-reflection, why being culturally responsive matters to our students and how instructors can be responsive to all students, participants were provided with tangible resources to utilize that may potentially improve student outcomes. There was an energy shift toward the end of the session, a realization of how necessary these conversations are, leaving one participant to inquire about the next.
“The information provided in this professional development was quite relevant to the work of faculty and staff at UNCP as we serve a very culturally diverse student population. All of us, regardless of ethnicity and culture, can learn and improve by participating in such events that cause us to reflect on our own practice to better serve our students,” said Dr. Zoe Locklear, interim dean of the School of Education.
Future workshops from Shared Interest Group will initiate conversations in and outside of the classroom that are critical to changing lives through education. Through continuous reach, the group seeks to improve student outcomes, as UNCP is one of the most diverse institutions in the University of North Carolina System.
The initiative is guided with two primary focuses: to understand the professional development needs of faculty and staff and to understand the needs of our students.
The uniqueness and work of this Shared Interest Group has the potential to bring forth positive transformations that impact teaching and learning.