PLE 4: Module 3

PLE 4: Developing Organizational Cultural Competency

Printable Version: PLE #4 Teaching Notes

Printable Version: PLE #4 Rubric               

Element Description/Instructions Instructor Notes
  • Understand how teacher/leader “monocultural” competence in a changing context, undermines school efforts to meet the needs of ELLs.
  • Develop individual and organizational cultural competence
  • Candidates will identify the individual teacher and administrator cultural competencies required for ELL success

This PLE is called “Developing Organizational Cultural Competence” because of the important role that culture and language have in ELL education. While this PLE focuses on “culture,” we know that linguistic competence (knowledge about language and language acquisition) is equally important.

In this PLE we look to link individual cultural competence to organizational cultural competence. Much of the focus in multicultural efforts in schools has been at the teacher level, but here we try to push candidates to think about how the school must develop this competency as well. 

This is especially true of for candidates who are working in schools with an “emerging” ELL population and with a predominantly English-only teaching staff. It is important to note that while most monolingual teachers may be White, African American teachers may also face challenges when introduced to an ELL population. In addition, teachers may feel that they are already “culturally competent” because of minor changes to curriculum or events. The nature of the cultural competency discussed here goes beyond that and much of what is shared focuses on school-wide competence.

In preparation for the PLE, candidates will complete a sample of the “School-Wide Cultural Competency Observation Checklist” (Bustamante & Nelson, 2007). This is a reflective tool for candidates to see how “competent” their schools are when addressing issues of racial/ethnic and linguistic diversity.

The focus of this activity is to emphasize the wide-range of areas that must be addressed in order to develop individuals and a school that are culturally competent.

This is a tool for the individual to reflect on the organization. The questions address the necessary elements of cultural competence and the level of integration into school culture and daily life. Alone, this “checklist” can be used to start discussions of assumptions of other cultures and definitions of “competence.”

The reflection can be given “whole class” (rather than individually) to spark a discussion about what candidates think about their school’s level of cultural competence.

If you are able to integrate this more into your class, the areas highlighted in the checklist can be used as “study questions” in which students break into small groups and discuss these issues in their school/district. Response can be presented in class or through an on-line discussion board.

Do not be surprised if students begin to pose some resistance. While this tool can be used to explore individual assumptions, it is primarily meant to look at the degree which organizational systems value diversity. Candidates may struggle with their own experiences and feelings about this (in particular around the difference between equity vs. equality). Candidates may default to arguments such as being “color-blind” or “not a racist.” The focus on the organization may help them to understand how “monocultural” school structures and systems are. This is an important part of their leadership development if they hope to lead diverse schools. [If the resistance persists, then we recommend the LSDL module that focuses on race/ethnicity from the UT-Austin]


Video can be assigned independently or in-class as part of a guided discussion.

If viewed independently, discussion/reflection questions are embedded.

If viewed in-class, clip can be paused for discussion. Discussion can be whole class or in small groups.

Video Length ~ 7:26

These clips address how Global Middle School began to develop its cultural competence and some of the challenges the principal faced.  The video also highlights the multiple levels of cultural competence that were being addressed simultaneously. The principal engaged teachers in these events all at the same time, not one at a time. This reflects the systems approach discusses in PLE #3. It is also possible to discuss principal learning through this PLE and the strategies that she employed to help her staff.

  • The principal introduces,
    Developing School Culture  (by focusing on ELL students and teacher relations)
  • Teacher Cultural Competence (using professional development and addressing underlying assumptions)
  • Home-School connections (understanding parents, providing translation, parents as partners, and identifying community resources)
Guided Discussion

There are discussion questions embedded in the video after every segment.  For example,

  • How does this build organizational capacity?
  • What resources were identified in the process?
  • What other school structures support organizational learning?

If candidates are completing this PLE independently, then students can write short responses to the discussion/reflection questions. These can then be submitted for professor review and/or an on-line forum or brought to class for group discussion.

If students are watching the video in class, the video can be stopped after every segment and questions can be used to foster class discussion.

These discussion questions can also be modified to reflect the local context, including constraints and needs.

Questions can also focus on the larger issue of culturally competent leadership. Many of the structures discussed here affect teaching/classrooms and require reallocation of resources (i.e. time, personnel). These are organizational changes, which highlights both a systemic approach AND how making curricular changes alone will not foster school improvement.


Gay, G. (2002). Preparing for Culturally Responsive Teaching Journal of Teacher Education, 53 (2), pp. 106-116

Bustamante, R.M., Nelson, J.A., & Onwuegbuzie, A. J. (2009). Educational Administration Quarterly, 45(5) 793–827. (Not open-source)

Coady, M., Hamann, E.T., Harrington, M., Pacheco, M., Pho, S. & Yedlin, J. (2003). “Claiming Opportunities: A Handbook for Improving Education for English Language Learners Through Comprehensive School Reform”

These readings highlight the role of individual (Gay, 2002) and organizational cultural competency (Bustamante, 2009) on ELL achievement. Through identification and analysis of individual assumptions, organizations can become more welcoming environments for ELLs (Coady, et al, 2003). These articles are vehicle for students to address cultural competence issues in schools and leadership.

Claiming Opportunities is a free on-line text. The whole book is relevant to this module. For this PLE, we recommend Chapter 3.

Supporting Materials

Bustamante, R. M.  (2008). The “Culture Audit”: A leadership tool for assessment and strategic planning in diverse schools and colleges.

Chamberlain, S. Recognizing and responding to cultural differences in the education of culturally and linguistically diverse learners. (2005).


These materials can be used in conjunction with or instead of the articles suggested.

Bustamante (2008) introduces a tool for assessing organizational cultural competence.

Chamberlain (2005) addresses the role of teacher cultural competence in the referral process – and overrepresentation – of culturally/linguistically diverse learners to special education.
Related Websites

Teaching Tolerance

Office of English Language Acquisition

There are numerous websites but these offer both research and policy information on ELL students and second language acquisition.
Reflective Journaling

Reflective journals are an important part of individual leadership development. It allows students to capture their thinking and underlying assumptions. Periodically, students can analyze their journal and see how their thinking evolves over time, both in terms of sophistication and skill development.

Candidates journal about of their experiences in changing contexts and their feeling about it, as well as strategies that were used to “manage the change.”

One way to maximize the journaling experience is to give students time in class to share what they are learning about themselves/their leadership. This serves to highlight the value of the journal and also give you insight into where their learning needs are.

These journals can also be done on-line via individual discussion boards, blogs, etc.

Assessments Level One

Level One: Candidates reply to the discussion questions in written form based on principal’s responses.

Level Two: Candidates write a brief case study of the school based on principal’s responses

Level Three: Candidates respond to guiding questions based on their own context

These assessments reflect the different levels of integration into existing course. Each “level” becomes increasing more complex and will require more time on the part of students and professor.

The extended activity described below requires extensive work outside of class and reinforces data collection and analysis skills.

Extended Activity
  • Option A: Candidates write an in-depth case study of GMS, addressing all the leadership areas, based on Dr. Baralié’s responses.
  • Option B: Candidates write an in-depth case study of their own school, addressing all the leadership areas and based on their own context. This requires that candidates interview their principal on some/all the leadership areas  raised in this PLE/Module and write an in-depth case study based on that data.


PLE #4  ELL Developing Organizational Competencies – Performance Assessment Rubric

Standard 2:
A school administrator is an educational leader who promotes the success of all students by advocating, nurturing, and sustaining a school culture and instructional program conducive to ELL student learning and staff professional growth.

  •  Second Language Acquisition, Culturally responsive teaching
  •  Develop the instructional capacity including professional development, lesson development

Standard 4: An education leader promotes the success of every student by collaborating with faculty and community members, responding to diverse ELL community interests and needs, and mobilizing community resources.

  • Community relations, parent involvement, community engagement

Standard 6: An educational leader promotes the success of every ELL student by understanding, responding to and influencing the political, social, economic, legal and cultural context.

  • Act to influence local, district, state, and national decisions affecting ELL student learning


Candidate Goals
Level 1
Level 2
Level 3
Level 4
Level 5
Can candidates identify and apply assessment and accountability systems to monitor ELL progress?
Candidates identify ELL performance status based on national, state, and local assessment results.
Candidates identify ELL performance gaps in schools, districts, and states based on high stake assessments.
Candidates determine and articulate the school and district AYP and proficiency goals for ELLs.
Candidates use item analysis to target specific ELL weaknesses and strengths on high stakes assessments.
Candidates identify gaps and trends within the ELL population. Using research literature identify factors for gap differentials.
What strategies do candidates use to promote an instructional capacity of staff for ELLs?
Candidates articulate the purpose of ELL program evaluation as a means to improve practice for ELLs.
Candidates identify ELL program evaluation standards.
Candidates identify ELL program evaluation criteria utilizing standards and ELL learning goals.
Candidates perform ELL formative (program implemented as designed) and  summative (program effectiveness) evaluations
Candidates present findings of program evaluation to stakeholders with recommendations for modification, expansion, continuance, etc.
How do candidates promote the use of the most effective programs and strategies for ELLs?
The candidate can articulate the settings and conditions under which bilingual education is optimal.
The candidate identifies the best way to teach English Language Development based on the research literature.
The candidate evaluates the impact of the instructional program based on results of standardized assessments.
The candidate gathers input from staff and students as well as formal assessment data to monitor and evaluate the impact of programs.
The candidate provides time and expectation for ELLs and staff to participate I multiple cycle of field testing, feedback and revision of the instructional program
Can candidates identify the learning theories and multiple learning opportunities appropriate for ELLs?
Candidate can -not identify appropriate learning theories for ELLs.
Candidate has minimal understanding of learning theories and cannot frame them within supervisory structures.
Candidate identifies  learning theories for ELLs and can articulate their relevance for ELLs
Candidate identifies and understands theoretical constructs of Second Language Acquisition but provides limited application in multiple ELL settings.
Candidate identifies and applies Second Language Acquisition and Culturally Responsive Pedagogy to multiple school settings. 


Assignment: Candidates will conduct a complete clinical supervision cycle of a colleague/teacher who has a group of ELLs, ESL class or Bilingual class. Utilizing the elements of pre-observation planning, observation, data analyses, post observation, and reflective analysis the candidate will prepare a written report that embrace the rubric goals and demonstrate the candidates understanding of the teacher competencies required for effective ELL instruction.