Culturally Relevant Pedagogy/Faculty Summer Institutes

BHCC has developed a successful model for implementing culturally relevant pedagogy across the curriculum. In partnership with community organizations, K-12 districts and four-year institutions, the College has expanded efforts to ground our curriculum in the rich culture of Boston’s local communities through culturally relevant, place based learning. Faculty Institutes are the hallmark of these efforts. In 2015-2016, the Institutes brought together 170 faculty, staff, students and community partners to support the success of our diverse student population. The Faculty Institute model is replicable and scalable.

Museum of African American History (MAAH) Summer Institutes. An informal alliance between MAAH and BHCC has existed for many years. In 2013, with support from the Catalyst Fund, the College and MAAH worked together to develop a model for integrating Museum resources into the College’s Learning Communities. The Museum not only teaches the central role of African American Bostonians in the 18th and 19th century abolitionist and equal education movements, it provides a historic lens through which participants can analyze and solve contemporary community challenges. The first outcome of the enhanced partnership was the Summer Institute Series, four-day immersion programs in African American history presented by the Museum. Now in its fourth year, the series engages participants in “unlearning” the conventional history of Black people in America. Black communities like Boston’s reveal not just an ability to endure hardship, but the capacity to build institutions that support community life and promote social change. The Institutes have featured well-known visiting lecturers, including Lois Brown, Ph.D., a literary historian who directs the Center for African American Studies at Wesleyan University, and Cheryl Janifer LaRoche, Ph.D., a scholar of the Underground Railroad and of free Black communities. In addition, the Institutes offer dozens of practical suggestions for incorporating the history into existing course materials. In 2013, 2014 and 2015, six MAAH Summer Institutes brought together BHCC, Roxbury Community College, and Boston Public School faculty to experience Museum spaces and artifacts first-hand, engage with scholars in the field, and begin the work of integrating these resources into their courses. To date, 30 BHCC faculty teaching courses ranging from Allied Health to English Literature have incorporated Museum resources into their courses. In 2015-2016 alone, class tours and field study introduced more than 400 BHCC students to MAAH resources and scholarship.

Bridging Cultures Asian American Studies Summer Institute. Modeled after the MAAH partnership and with support from a three-year NEH Bridging Cultures at Community Colleges grant, the College is collaborating with the University of Massachusetts Boston’s Asian American Studies Program to integrate the Boston area’s diverse Asian American cultures and communities into learning communities. The 2014 Summer Institute, facilitated by UMass Boston’s Dr. Peter Kiang, featured guided field study in several of Boston’s Asian American neighborhoods, while the 2015 Institute, facilitated by UMass Boston’s Dr. Shirley Tang, focused on the role students’ digital stories play in documenting and examining hot spot community issues. To date, 14 faculty have integrated Asian American content into courses ranging from English Composition to Statistics.

Latino Student Success Institute. In early fall 2015 the College won a $200,000 Vision Project grant to implement “Latino Student Success: Building Pathways from High School to Baccalaureate,” a collaborative effort aimed at improving educational outcomes for Latino students. In January 2016, 67 faculty, staff and students from Chelsea High School, Bunker Hill Community College, UMASS Boston and Chelsea Community Organizations participated in the first Latino Student Success Institute. Ongoing work aims to create seamless pathway for students from Chelsea High School to BHCC to UMass Boston. The Initiative is funded by the Massachusetts Department of Higher Education’s Vision Project.

Learning Communities Institute. In May 2016, the College sponsored its 8th annual Learning Communities Institute, which brought together 74 faculty and staff over two days to explore the topic of “Collective Impact for Student Success: Honoring the BHCC Student Experience.” Workshops and conversations showcased a range of initiative and practices in and outside of the classroom that are contributing to the success of our diverse student population. This year’s Institute was held on the Chelsea campus and featured field study in the city of Chelsea guided by the CBO Chelsea Thrives and the Chelsea Chamber of Commerce.

Together, the Institutes are contributing to a culturally relevant and inclusive teaching and learning environment at the College. BHCC data indicates that the college is making progress in closing racial/ethnic achievement gaps in course completion (see attached data on course completion). Lessons learned along the way include the following: 1) Culturally relevant  pedagogy is rooted in a firm belief in the capacity of all students to succeed; 2) Faculty need ample time during and after Institutes for critical reflection to process what they are learning and integrate it into their courses; 3) Curricular integration is an iterative process, with more depth and expertise achieved over time; and 4) Building authentic, reciprocal relationships with community partners is an essential component of this work.

ID 15587

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