Submitted by Nichelle Harper on Wed, 10/02/2019 - 10:30
<span id="hs_cos_wrapper_name" class="hs_cos_wrapper hs_cos_wrapper_meta_field hs_cos_wrapper_type_text" style="" data-hs-cos-general-type="meta_field" data-hs-cos-type="text" >What is Culturally Responsive Teaching?</span>

What is Culturally Responsive Teaching?

Culturally responsive teaching centers around implementing a student-focused approach to teaching. It uses the power of application by identifying the unique strengths of each child to encourage academic achievement and a sense of belonging in a classroom setting.

According to research, teaching that ignores student norms of behavior and communication provokes student resistance, while responsive teaching prompts student involvement.

Culturally responsive teaching goes much further than learning about your students and their unique cultural differences. Creating a classroom environment that engages students, makes the elements of learning applicable, and the material accessible to the lives of students are all ways that culturally responsive teaching leads to classroom mastery. Teachers must understand where their students are coming from. Each student brings a wealth of experience in their own culture to the classroom. The culturally responsive teacher intentionally creates an environment that communicates care, support, and belonging in a way students can recognize.

Why is Cultural Responsiveness Important?

As an educator, attitudes are conducive to the attainment and application of knowledge to achieve classroom mastery. Being culturally responsive helps manipulate the learning into something more digestible for students and, in turn, can mean something more valuable to the classroom on an individual level. Cultural Responsiveness in the classroom is a way of specifically tailoring the lesson to be more meaningful to each student and makes learning relevant to their life learning process.

Research has shown that no one teaching strategy will consistently engage all learners. The key is helping students relate lesson content to their backgrounds.

Mastering cultural responsiveness can be the key to closing the achievement gap. Using culture to close the learning gap is the best way to eliminate issues of oppression and equity. Teachers need to be aware of the strategies and tools that are available to incorporate cultural responsiveness into lesson plans, according to Rehm's journal entitled Effective Teaching Strategies for Middle School Learners in Multicultural, Multilingual Classrooms. Obtaining the knowledge 

and strategies necessary to teach using culture is the next generation of effective teaching strategies.

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According to Zaretta Hammon's book, Culturally Responsive Teaching and the Brain: Promoting Authentic Engagement, teachers need to gain more knowledge about the dimensions of culture and other larger social, political, and economic conditions that create inequitable outcomes in education. In this context, educators must be committed to creating an environment of inclusivity as it relates to diversity in the classroom setting. Incorporating culturally responsive elements into students' education can be powerful for their learning process. Check out the examples below and incorporate these elements into learning.

Examples of Cultural Elements Involved in Learning

  • Grouping - one obvious way of having a culturally responsive classroom is to help students get acquainted with the different cultures among them. Revolve learning around a specific culture to incorporate relevant life-applicable aspects into the curriculum!
  • Set the tone - allow students to showcase their values, strengths, and experiences! Create a creative project to share this information. Not only do you learn about your students, but they learn about their classmates as well.
  • Draw connections! - use your content to connect to real issues. Draw out student-led discussions, opinions, experience and prior knowledge to guide learning. Invite new ideas, concepts, and connections.
  • Build & Sustain confidence - Give the students autonomy in the classroom. Offer multiple ways to demonstrate knowledge and understanding of the material. Discuss each perspective with the learning objective.

Modifying teaching to benefit all students' cultures and mastery levels requires constantly analyzing the students and their engagement levels during assignments, researching different cultures, and adapting teaching strategies and techniques to the needs of the classroom.

One of the most powerful ways to make learning accessible for all is being culturally responsive to the learning and application of the students in the classroom. Now more than ever, teachers seek to prioritize creating classroom environments where each student feels supported in their learning and success. Every teacher wields the power to impact the next generation with an influence incomparable to any other profession. Wield that power - make cultural responsiveness your responsibility by giving every student hope in learning fearlessly!


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