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Fish Out of Water: Mentoring, Managing, and Self-Monitoring People Who Don't Fit In

by Kikanza Nuri-Robins and Lewis Bundy Corwin Press
Pub Date:
Pbk 256 pages
AU$53.99 NZ$55.65
Product Status: Not Our Publication - we no longer distribute
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Fish Out of Water are people who are different because they do not know or meet the cultural expectations of their environments effectively. These people get targeted because they are different; they are the outsiders who are pushed to the margins, or who choose to walk there. In schools, children who are fish out of water include those who are targeted and bullied for being "too different." This can include children who don't conform to accepted norms related to sexual orientation, gender identity, ableness, income level, or ethnicity.


Similarly, adults who don't blend in well with the culture of their workplaces may find themselves targeted and/or excluded by their co-workers. An overarching theme of Cultural Proficiency is that organizations need to adapt to human differences in order to remain vital and relevant. By working to create inclusive and welcoming environments, all stakeholders will benefit. Most books in the diversity and inclusion genre address members of the dominant culture and provide information on how to change dysfunctional, oppressive, or inequitable systems.


The proposed offering acknowledges the need for organizations to embrace difference but, at the same time, also acknowledges that in a less-than-perfect, fish out of water can benefit greatly by having access to tools that help them to better negotiate environments that are not yet ready or able to embrace them. Chief among these is the ability to code-switch.


Much as ELs and speakers of non-standard English need to master the academic language code in order to succeed in schools, those who are systematically marginalized must learn strategies for fitting into where they are and protecting themselves from those who would target them.


The book is directed not only to those who teach, supervise, and collaborate with fish out of water but also (in the case of adults) to the fish out of water themselves. The authors have used this material as the basis of a workshop and have also integrated the principles in their respective coaching practices.

We Wear the Mask Poem
Foreword by Terry Cross
About the Authors
1. Who Are the Fish Out of Water?
2. What Is Code Switching?
3. What Is Cultural Proficiency
4. How Fish Out of Water Are Marginalized
5. The Consequences of Fitting In
6. From Code Switching to Code Sharing
7. Self-Monitoring When the Fit Is Not Right
8. Mentoring Kids Who Are Fish Out of Water
9. Managing Fish Out of Water
10. Managing the Environment
11. Leaving Well'Knowing When to Quit
Assessment Tools and Internet Resources
Videos and Teaching Guides
Fish out of Water in Literature
Book Study Guidelines
Afterword - Jeanne and Gordy

"Nuri-Robins & Bundy offer a unique approach to the topic of cultural diversity, pairing storytelling with helpful tools."
Kikanza Nuri-Robins and Lewis Bundy are Fish Out of Water who are accepted by and relatively comfortable in ponds that are not of their choosing. They have learned the cultural codes of their environments and to code switch effectively. They have spent their professional lives (approximately 40 years each) helping people to decipher organizational cultures, and to enhance their personal power by learning to code switch. They are organizational development consultants focusing on leadership and cultural proficiency in mission driven organizations. They each have experience as K-12 teachers and as post-secondary instructors and administrators. Nuri-Robins is the co-author of three books in the Cultural Proficiency library.