Tuesday, June 1, 2021

Culturally Responsive Teaching

When I think about education today and the role the teacher or mentor plays, they have a lot to deal with to ensure everyone feels safe, heard, understood and respected.

In the classroom today, there are varying norms, beliefs and behaviors passed down from generations of family members and societies. 

For example, a student may answer in a certain way, not give eye contact or behave a certain way that may seem disrespectful but in their culture may be a way of showing respect and honor. 

What we want is for all our students to succeed. 

In the book, Culturally Responsive Teaching and the Brain, Zaretta Hammond writes that “by third grade, many culturally and linguistically diverse students are one or more years behind in reading.” 

Leaders and educators must be willing to take a look at what is and how that is impacting the education of our students. This could be done in a variety of ways, perhaps a brainstorming session to look at the experiences that have formed stereotypes which have overtime turned to implicit bias. These may be conscious or unconscious to us now. 

Perhaps the unintentional, unconscious attitudes might be impacting how students are related to. In turn this affects everything else about the educational system we have now to include students, parents, educators, curriculum, parents, and how learning is planned and assessed. 

Here is a test online that can be taken to find out your implicit bias: https://implicit.harvard.edu/implicit/

Are you operating from a place of critical care? Is your learning environment a place that marries high expectations with empathy and compassion?  Are your students, regardless of socioeconomic status or background, being held to high standards? Has your past interaction with a particular race of people impacted your ability to communicate with parents? Identify those places in your instructional planning where you might have allowed your implicit biases to prevent you from pushing your students to achieve at optimal levels. 

I believe as we look at our bias and answer hard questions, we can find the answers together that result in an educational system that works for all. 



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