Cultural Competence and Public-Private Partnership as Educational-Relational Thinking: Resources from #PoCC14

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Chris Thinnes


It was an honor and a privilege to spend most of the last week at the NAIS People of Color Conference in Indianapolis — convening with members of “Call to Action” for dialogue with NAIS senior leadership, co-facilitating White affinity group sessions, co-hosting a workshop on “Cultural Competence as Educational-Relational Thinking,” co-presenting at PoCCSpeaks on “Educational-Relational Thinking and the Future of Public-Private Partnerships,” collaborating with teammates on each of these projects, and connecting with past colleagues, supportive mentors, and dear friends from across the country.

Lots of ‘co-‘ words in that last line, right? I think I learned more about the urgency, complexity, and benefit of collaboration across difference — and practiced more, and struggled more, and discovered more about it — than I have in quite some time. The conceptual framework of two of these workshops featured Rinaldi’s notion of educational-relational thinking, which rests in part on the conviction that “the interaction between cultures is not only a political issue, but above all a cultural and cognitive issue.” Recent, grim reminders in recent weeks of abject injustice entrenched in our legal system, and a national outpouring of outrage and repudiation of that injustice, confirm that the interaction between cultures extends to legal, ethical, and profoundly moral issues as well — arguably the most pressing issues of our time in history. If only these issues preoccupied the thinking of prevailing education reformers as visibly as those with which we’re more familiar…

There are many experiences and epiphanies on which I’ll continue to reflect, and perhaps explore in this space in the weeks to come. For now, I simply want to share some slides from two of the presentations in which I was honored to participate.

1. “Cultural Competence as Educational-Relational Thinking: The Intersections of Learning and Community”

For quite some time I have had the privilege to collaborate with Gene Batiste, Steven Jones, Rosetta Lee, and Alison Park on a series of panels and a longer-term action project to support the development of cultural competency skills at the core of student and professional learning. Here’s our slide deck from a highly interactive workshop Alison, Gene, and I facilitated — in which participants had the opportunity to practice at length, rather than merely to listen to us preach. A variety of resources follow the main slide deck, which you may find useful.

2. “Going to School in the World: Educational-Relational Thinking and the Future of Public-Private Partnerships”

In a first-time PoCC event called PoCCSpeaks, I had the opportunity to join the amazing Daniel Harris, Jeremiah Jackson, Rosetta Lee, Doreen Oleson, and Ingrid Tucker in a series of 15-minute “TEDX”-style presentations on a variety of themes connected to our shared interests in social justice and school leadership in the years to come. My talk was rooted in ideas I explored in a recent essay for  Independent School Magazine. Here are the slides from that presentation:


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