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Advancing and Advocating for Social Justice & Equity

Pang Hlub Xiong
Third grade teacher in North Saint Paul MN

What does Multicultural Education Mean to You?

For the better part of my life, my identity has been clouded as I navigated and juggled the taboos and struggles of being bicultural in America. Growing up, I was often confused—about who I was and about who we Hmong are as a people. The stories my parents told me about growing up in the peaceful country suddenly destroyed by war was unfathomable to me but greatly influenced how I was raised. Throughout most of my life, I was made to believe that being bicultural was a handicap. I grew up in a time when the public school systems were just learning about Hmong people and how to serve these students with different needs. I remember the sense of urgency around having to learn English and the stigma of being an ESL student. It was important to learn the rules of school and the ways to be at school because the life I knew was wrong. Since my parents knew nothing about this country, I knew I had to work twice as hard and face twice as many challenges, only to be half as good as my peers.

Being bicultural meant that I would be misunderstood again and again because of the way I looked, the things I said, the foods I ate, the beliefs I valued, the choices I made, and the life I lived. Home life and school life often clashed as each had a very different set of values and expectations. Out of shame and embarrassment of my culture, I learned the lies to tell in order to gain approving nods from friends and teachers. These experiences continued throughout my life and shaped me to be the educator I am today.

Because of my unfortunate experiences, it is my goal to redefine what it means to be multicultural and create a safe learning environment where all children can learn to embrace who they are. In an education era driven by standards, there are no standards directly addressing multicultural teaching. Instead, multiculturalism is left to those educators conscious enough to recognize its significance. Multiculturalism extends beyond the classroom and should be addressed because of the lifelong implications it can have.


How does Pang enact multicultural education in her classroom?

Developing Positive Academic Identities

Watch Pang discuss and show an example of developing students' academic identities using a learning styles survey she designed that you can download and use. In what ways does she make use of classroom practices that reflect the research findings?

Developing Positive Social Identities

Pang does quite a lot both inside and outside the classroom to develop positive social identities among students. Her classroom is multilingual. Here, she explains what it meant to her growing up to speak a language other than English at home, and how her own experience influences how she approaches students social identities in her own classroom.


Outside of the classroom, she developed Hmong Club as a way to affirm the social identities of Hmong students. Listen to her explain why she did this.

Developing Respectful Engagement with Diverse People

Pang explains how, as a teacher of young children she uses her power as teacher, and her identity and life experience as a person of color, to develop her students' ability to engage respectfully with diverse people. How does her practice connect with the research findings related to young children learning respect for diverse people?


Developing Social Justice Consciousness and Action

Pang explains that she grew up in a culture that did not prepare her as an activist. Learning to take action was something she learned as an adult. Here, she explains how she took on an issue while teaching kindergarten, and how her activism influenced her students.

As a third grade teacher, she has involved her students in learning to take action on issues in their community. In the following video, Pang describes a specific issue and how she linked this work to her social studies curriculum. Then you can watch her scaffolding social action with her class, as a project unfolded over several days.

Project Hmong

What challenges does Pang face and how does she deal with them?
1. Standards and tests:

What do you believe teachers can do, given the emphasis on standards and tests? After reflecting on this question, listen to what Pang does.

2. Stresses of teaching:

What kinds of stresses do you experience or anticipate? How do you manage those stresses? After reflecting on what you can do, listen to Pang describe what she does.

3. Being stretched too thin:

If you were in Pang's shoes, how would you deal with the challenge of being stretched too thin? After reflecting on this question, listen to Pang's example of what she did.